Goodnight, Fat Prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest in Bel Air Belize. Or in other words, yo homes, smell ya later!

What, too soon?

I don't know what the hell everybody's boo-hooing about. I mean, who'da figured a top 3-to-5 NFL offense would make a brand new 34 defense — playing its third game in the system, on the road for the first time, without half its linebackers — look like dogshit on two (maybe three) of six first-half drives? SHOCKING, right? What a bunch of chumps! Clearly we're doomed. Or something.

Fuck that noise. Now may be a good time to remind ourselves that exactly one year ago, the Texans put up 24 in the first half against the Spagheads™.

And I'm perfectly willing to acknowledge that the 16 Houston put up in the first half Sunday afternoon could very well have been 20 if Ramon Humber and Rafael Bush hadn't stopped Garrett Graham at the 3 on the last offensive play of the half, or had Schaub thrown the ball to someone in the end zone, if you'll acknowledge that it could very well have been 10 if not for Randy Bullock having nailed a couple of unlikely 48 and 55 yard field goals. 

Look, I'm not gonna sit here and try to convince you that those two (maybe three) first-half drives didn't bring back the ole Spaghead PTSD, because of course they did. But hey, if we're gonna play the "Oakland in August" card, as we all did last week, then the "Houston on the road" card is fair game as well. I was frothing at the mouth my own self hoping they'd shut these fools out in the first half or something similarly unrealistic, but we all knew that was never really gonna happen. Not against Houston, not this soon.

I'd assert that the most shocking things that happened Sunday afternoon were that the Saints forced Houston to attempt 48 and 55 yard field goals, and held them to a zero-yards-gained 3 & out at their own 20, and held them out of the end zone at the end of the first half, and only allowed them to score 16 points in the first half.

In my book, that's good shit. A bona fide win.

As brutal as it was to watch at times, if that's what we can expect from this defense all year against elite offenses on the road with the deck stacked against 'em, I'll take it. I mean, for all the talk of "all they need is a top 20 or so defense…" isn't that pretty much precisely what we were probably looking at Sunday afternoon? Amidst circumstances that were about as unfavorable as they get?

On what planet does that not qualify as genuine ongoing progress? The one where the Spagheads didn't set an NFL record for futility last season?

Sure, there will be weeks when it's not good enough. But I'm pretty sure most weeks it will be. Aren't you?

See, the great thing about top 3-to-5 offenses is that there's only 3 to 5 of 'em. And one of 'em is on our side. And the Saints just played another one (who they won't have to deal with in the regular season) on the road, and beat 'em, holding them to "a mere" 16 first half points. In only their third game in the system. With a linebacking core that's decimated worse than Jesse Pinkman's psyche right about now.

Know who doesn't have a top 3-to-5 offense? Atlanta. They can pretend they do all they want, but they don't. And their defense blows too, far worse than the Saints' does right about now. Have you seen those fools play lately? Oof. And don't even get me started on Carolina and Tampa.

Meantime, is there any remaining doubt that the Saints offense is gonna be shoving 35+ down chumps' throats on a weekly basis all season long? Hell, at this point I've got half a mind to drop a couple of bills on an average of 40+ for the season.

So for fuck's sake, take a deep breath and relax, would ya? Nothing that happened Sunday afternoon suggests that this thing isn't right on a perfectly reasonable upward track. I'd even go as far as to assert that it might very well be significantly ahead of schedule (injuries notwithstanding.) The spates of incompetence are still there, but they sure do seem to be fewer and farther between these days, no?

Don't look now, but despite all the injuries and despite some bumps in the road here and there, overall this team is playing really, really well right about now. They're not just "winning" meaningless preseason games, they're winning the ones-vs-ones portions and for the most part looking pretty damn good doing it.

Drew is completing 74% of his passes with no picks and is sporting a passer rating of 128.4 for crying out loud. 7 of his 10 drives have ended in scores. He's only been sacked once, and one sack per 34 dropbacks is the lowest sack rate they've posted since 2008.

For all the hand-wringing about the rushing game, Pierre's running for 4.8 per. Ingram's running for 4.1 per and has 3 catches(!!!) for 39 yards. And I've got a hunch that if they keep throwing the ball to Ingram (and otherwise diversifying what they do with him) that 4.1 yards per carry is only gonna go up.

Kenny Stills is throwing those yellow fingers up to the tune of 7 for 140, 20 yards per, and two touchdowns. A fifth-round rookie in his first three games in the NFL. That's pretty damn strong right there. Nick Toon: 6 for 133, 22.2 yards per. A fourth-round redshirt rookie.

Glenn Foster: 8 tackles, 4 sacks and a forced fumble. At least one sack in all three games so far. An undrafted rookie.

And then there's everybody's favorite boastful douchebag, the Mexican Jeremy Shockey. Jeffrey's unimpressed because so far Vaccaro has looked less like a certain 12-year vet back in 2009 who is 6th all-time in interceptions, and more like David Lee Roth. Or something. (The Sharper comparison wasn't Jeffrey's, he was responding to and refuting the comparison.)

Anyway, Jeffrey's concerned that Vaccaro may be all sizzle and no steak, but that people are gonna love him anyway because we sure do love us some sizzle. REG-GIE! REG-GIE! REG-GIE!

And there's no doubt that he's a deliberately showy kind of guy. He has a way of drawing attention to himself, in much the same way Shockey did, even on routine plays. And I can see how that might rub some people the wrong way (although Lance Moore is kinda the same way and everybody loves that guy, with good reason. Maybe because Lance always looks like he's just having so much damn fun with it all.) It annoys me too when people heap vague, nebulous praise on a guy for little more than having "swag" and looking/acting the part of a "superstar" with very little in the way of production to back it up.

I just don't think that last part applies to Vaccaro at this point. This guy has been kicking some very real ass.

18 tackles over his first three games in the NFL, for fuck's sake. He's currently tied with Ramon Humber for the team lead in tackles, and both of those guys are tied for 2nd in the league in tackles. And Vaccaro is first in the league among defensive backs. that's pretty damn strong.

I don't have anything solid to back this up, but I don't recall him missing any tackles either. And I can't back this up either, but I'm pretty sure most of his playing time has come against the ones. Even better, those tackles have been all over the field. The guy has been all over the place, and usually pretty close to where the ball is.

Sure, for the most part tackles aren't very sexy or spectacular. They're routine, certainly not the hallmarks of a "rock star." He hasn't forced any fumbles or picked anybody off or made any particularly "flashy" plays so far. But it's early yet.

Meantime, "plays like a vet" may be pretty vague as compliments go, but it's not insignificant for a rookie. What it means is that the guy is advanced for his level of experience, and that's a very real, tangible thing. Especially for a rookie, and especially for a rookie defensive back. It means he's not making mistakes. That the plays he's making are overwhelmingly positive and rarely negative, "routine" or not. And that's good stuff. Real stuff.

So while the early rhetoric may be a little over the top and/or seem mostly baseless so far due to a lack of actual "flash" (as opposed to JoLonn Dunbar-style manufactured flash) I'd assert that Vaccaro is off to a faster start than any Saints rookie since Carl Nicks. And I don't think it's a stretch to give him a preliminary seat at the table with Nicks, Jahri Evans, Marques Colston and Thomas Morstead in terms of immediate rookie "earn it" factor. Which is obviously some pretty good company.

Anyway, I don't know about you, but I'm feeling really good about where this team is at heading into the regular season. Injuries notwithstanding. The offense is as deadly as ever, and that's a conservative assessment. And while the defense is still obviously a work in progress, the key word there is progress. Real progress. Significant progress. A couple of ugly drives against an elite offense doesn't change anything in my view. They look about as "ready" as could reasonably be expected, and they sure do look like best team in the NFC South going into week 1.

Time to strap ourselves in for the ride, bitches. Shit's about to get real, and fun times await.

If you're in it til the end (and I know you are) throw those yellow fingers up. High five!

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