Saints 14, Vikings 9

jscarlton 2010/09/10

Each week, I’ll post a few notes on the game. I won’t do a complete review, because that’s available elsewhere.

Yesterday’s game illustrated the thin line between a blowout and a close game. The Saints clearly outplayed the Vikings for most of the game, but a bit of bad luck (and poor execution) kept the game close. If Hartley makes those field goals, if we had a couple fewer dropped passes, and if the Vikings defense was a little less robust on 3rd down, then the Saints would’ve won handily. They were clearly the better team last night, and the Vikings looked old and injured, primarily because that’s exactly what they are.

To win a football game, you have to play well enough to beat your opponent and overcome potential bad luck and potential bad officiating. The Saints actually had good luck with the officiating last night (the Vikings incompletion that couldn’t be overturned by replay, but looked like it was probably a complete pass) and played well enough to overcome the bad luck of missed field goals, a couple of dropped passes, and a missed interception or two.

Offensive Review:

Overall, the offense was good with a couple of exceptions. Drew Brees was his typical stellar self, spreading the ball to 9 different receivers on his way to finishing 2736 for 237 yards of passing. One of the best and easiest ways to measure an offense’s efficiency is to look at Yards Per Attempt (YPA). YPA is a much better metric than passer rating, overall yards, completion percentage, etc., because it has a direct correlation to winning. When calculating YPA, though, you need to make 2 adjustments:

  1. Count QB sacks as both passing attempts and negative passing yardage, since they happen on passing plays.
  2. Subtract 60 yards for each interception.

The first adjustment makes sense on it’s face. The second one is harder to explain, but it basically goes like this: each interception hurts the team’s chance of winning about as much as having 60 fewer YPA. So, subtract 60 YPA for each interception.

Well, Brew had 36 attempts for 237 yards, didn’t throw an interception, and was sacked 1 time for an 8-yard loss. Add all that up, divide, carry the one, factor out the obfuscation exponent (just kidding), and use the calculator to get a YPA of 6.19. That’s okay, but not great. As I alluded earlier, if there had been a couple fewer dropped passes (6 of Brew Drees’ incompletions hit the receivers in the hands!), the figure would’ve been a lot higher, as would the Saints’ score.

I thought the game plan was solid, even though the Saints were probably a little too pass-heavy in the first half. The Vikings have a great defensive line, and passing the ball was a great way to stay away from those fat guys up front. If we’d caught a few more balls, had a couple of fewer penalties, etc., then no one would be complaining.

So, overall, I’m encouraged by the offense, and by the team’s performance in general. It’ll be interesting to see if the receivers can pick it up in San Francisco next week. I’m also concerned about our run defense vs. Frank Gore. But, more on that in next week’s show, which should be released on Thursday.