“There is a house in New Orleans, they call the Rising Sun...”
Will the Cardinals game with the Saints tonight be the “ruin of many poor boys” or the fresh onset of a new, sunny day?
Over the years the Super Dome has been a dark cavern of doom for the Cardinals, particularly in the divisional round of the playoffs on January 16, 2010 when the Saints put a literal 45-14 pounding on the defending NFC champs.
It was the game that closed out the career of QB Kurt Warner, who, after throwing an interception trying to rally the Cardinals back from a 28-14 deficit, was on the wrong end of a bone crushing blindside block by DE Charles Grant, one of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ designated bounty hunters.
This hit forced Warner out of the game in the 2nd quarter, who was replaced by Matt Leinart.
The Saints, behind QB Drew Brees, would go on to beat the Vikings in overtime in the NFC Championship and then post an impressive 31-17 Super Bowl XLIV win over the Colts and QB Peyton Manning.
Here it is eight years later—-and Drew Brees is still performing his magic in New Orleans. While he did not play in the Saints’ first pre-season game, a come from behind 24-20 win over the Jags in Jacksonville, Brees is scheduled to play tonight.
Brees is backed up by ex-Texan Tom Savage, whose best game last year was against the Cardinals in November. But it was two big sacks late in the game (one a strip sack) and the spirited play of #3 dual-threat QB Tayson Hill that gave the Saints the 24-20 win. Hill is adept at running read options and various other RPOs. Here is a good look if you want to see:
For the Cardinals, this trip to New Orleans is a homecoming of sorts for CB Patrick Peterson (LSU), WR Chad Williams (Madison Prep H.S., Baton Rouge), WR Jaylen Tolliver (Rayville, LA), G Josh Allen (Lousiiana-Monroe), RB Sherman Badie (Tulane), DE Vontarrious Dora (Louisiana Tech) and newly re-signed CB Harlan Miller (Kentworth H.S., LA).
Chances are that the Cardinals’ Alabama natives, WR J.J. Nelson (Midfield, AL, UAB), Andre Smith (Huffman H.S. AL, Alabama), CB Chris Campbell (Phenix City, AL), Korey Cunningham (Monticello, AL) and S Rudy Ford ( New Hope, AL, Auburn) will have a number of family and friends in attendance.
Of the aforementioned Cardinals with local ties to Louisiana and Alabama, it would be auspicious to see WR Chad Williams, after a tough week in practice and no receptions in game one, emerge as one of the brightest lights on the roster.
It will be interesting to see if Jaylen Tolliver can build on his biy 47 yard catch last week—-if G Josh Allen can continue to make his case for a roster spot—-if RB Sherman Badie can make a splash (Green Wave style) this week in the 4th quarter—-if Vontarrious Dora can notch his first sack of the pre-season—-and if S Rudy Ford can continue his swift rise up the depth chart.
But the biggest question of the night is whether the Cardinals, with Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen taking the first half snaps behind the first string offensive line, can unveil a more diversified and productive passing game. One of the points of emphasis in practice this week was converting third downs, after going 0-11 in that category versus the Chargers.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals will face a formidable test from Drew Brees and his plethora of playmakers, most notably star RB Alvin Kamara, solid RB Mark Ingram and stud WR Michael Thomas.
On special teams, if there is one Saint the Cardinals would like to put a licking on, it’s Ted Ginn Jr. The Cardinals fared well on special teams last week, featuring Christian Kirk, who appears to be the most talented and promising punt returner since young Patrick Peterson. How well will the special teams perform in their first road test?
Will this game be a “Big Easy” for the Saints—-or a “Delta Dawn” for the Cardinals?