I've finished with breaking down the film and as always, I focused on the guys who don't show up in the box score, the men in the trenches. This is part one that deals with the offensive line and touches on the TE's and RB's. The defense will be examined in part two later today.
After watching the tape, I've got a little surprise for you guys. Everybody's freaking out about the run blocking and how bad it was. Well, that's not exactly the case. On the opening drive, the first unit line was doing a good job opening holes and getting room for Julius to run. In fact, we had 34 yards rushing on the first drive including runs of 8 yards and two 11-yard runs. We were manhandling them on this drive. After that, the Saints realized they couldn't stop us by using their basic 4-man front. They resorted to stacking the box, bringing 5 or 6 guys from all different angles, and using stunts often. They did this a lot for the rest of the game. The fact that we picked up those players in pass protection accounts for the excellent games by Bledsoe and Romo. So don't be so hard on the offensive line, they didn't get much push on runs after the first drive, but they forced the Saints into blitzing often, which ended up burning them.
The pass protection was better than the run blocking again this week, but that's something that should be a positive, considering how worried we were about pass protection going into camp. The tackles all played pretty solid games - with McQ having the worst night - but that's also a good sign.
OK, now to the individual evaluations.
LT - Flozell Adams: Flozell had a short game due to injury; thank goodness his injury doesn't appear to be serious. When he was in there, he had a few bad plays. He got beat to the inside on a pass rush forcing Bledsoe to throw early, and he didn't chip a blitzer on the back-side who ran down Julius for a negative play. He did get out on an outside run and help open up a big hole.
LT - Pat McQuistan: Surprisingly, when Flozell went down, Parcells turned to McQ instead of Petitti. McQ once again showed he's got potential, but he's also a rookie. He struggled in pass protection getting beat several times. Bledsoe had to throw it away on one, he whiffed on a blitz that led to Bledsoe's sack, and he got beat on another blitz but Romo made a quick throw to save the play. He also got beat twice on run plays, one a complete whiff on the block, leading to negative gains. He did have a few plays where he got great run blocks to open the holes for good gains.
LG - Kyle Kosier: Kosier had a poor evening of blocking. Besides the miscommunications with Gurode, he allowed penetration on a run play that disrupted the flow and resulted in a short gain. He got beat once in pass protection forcing Drew to throw the ball away, he was slow to help McQ on a blitz and on another play he couldn't hold his block long enough and that ended what could've been a good run. He did show his mobility on a couple of pull plays, but not enough to save his night.
C - Andre Gurode: Gurode didn't play as well this week as he did the previous week, but he was OK. He and Kosier had two miscommunications; one that allowed a man into the backfield but Julius made a cut around it; the other was saved by a Witten block. In pass protection, he had one play were he got pushed back deep, but recovered just in time to give Bledsoe the chance to complete the pass, otherwise, he was solid. He got out on a pull-block to the left side and helped to open a big hole for Barber, but got beat on a Saints blitz that trapped Julius in the backfield. Finally, he got out front on a screen pass and made a block that got a pretty decent gain.
RG - Marco Rivera: Rivera joins Kosier as guys who didn't have great games. Rivera did show some good things when asked to pull; he got out there quickly and made a few nice blocks on some good runs. But like last week, sometimes he can be bull-rushed, one time he recovered in time, but on two others only quick throws by Bledsoe saved the play. He got beat badly on a run play that ended up in negative yardage.
RT - Jason Fabini: Fabini might've played himself right back into contention for the right tackle spot. He had a very solid game with only two negative plays that I saw. On one, he got beat to the outside on a pass rush causing Bledsoe to hurry his throw, and on a run to his side he got no push and the play died. Other than that, he had some excellent run blocking on his side for good gains, and he was surprisingly solid in pass protection. A great game for him.
LT - Rob Petitti: Petitti didn't see too much action as McQ played into the 3rd quarter. I don't have him down for any blatant errors, and he did get a few good blocks in the running game.
LG - D'Anthony Batiste: Batiste got the call instead of Stephen Peterman, perhaps indicating that Peterman is through, and Batiste is being evaluated for the practice squad. His work in the game will certainly help that cause. I have him down for only one truly bad play, when he whiffed on a run block that killed a play at the line of scrimmage. But I have him down for at least four plays where he made good blocks on running plays, a couple of times pulling. A good performance by the youngster.
C - Al Johnson: Johnson had an OK game and is usually best when on the move. On multiple pull plays he got out quickly and made good blocks. But on straight-up blocking he got beat badly on one play for a negative run, and got stood-up at the line of scrimmage leading to no gain on another. He looked good in pass protection.
RG - Cory Procter: Procter didn't play as well as last week, and had a very mediocre game. On a couple of run plays he got good pushes on his opponent and he also got to the second level with good blocks on a couple of plays. But he had another false start penalty, and had around three plays where his run blocks were responsible for no gains.
RT - Marc Colombo: Colombo had a quiet night, which in terms of the offensive line, is not such a bad thing. He had no major gaffes, provided solid pass protection and had a few good blocks in the run game. A steady performance; one that keeps him in the running for right tackle.
Anthony Fasano continues to get mixed reviews with his blocking. When he's asked to block from the traditional "FB" spot, he doesn't show a lot of drive or explosion when he hits the hole. A couple of times he got stood-up in the hole, clogging the play up. He also whiffed badly on a block that was on an off-tackle play, killing the chance at a good gain. Where he did well is when they ask him to help on the outside of the line in pass protection, he had several good blocks from that position.
Tony Curtis is another guy who struggled blocking. I have him down for two complete whiffs on blocks from the end of the line, and another poor block on a different play.
The backs did a better job this game of cutting-back, making several big plays on those types of runs. Barber still dances a little too much, but when he gets going north-and-south he can look good. Tyson Thompson's speed was on display again for a few runs, but he missed picking up a player on a blitz that helped lead to Romo's fumble and he still doesn't show patience some times on sweeps.
The defensive review will be up later today.