Saintsinsider.com's Top 5: Week 2

Reggie Bush (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Each week Saintsinsider.com's Matthew Postins will analyze the top five issues facing the New Orleans Saints that week. In this edition, Postins analyzes who picks up the slack for Marques Colston, why activating Jo-Lonn Dunbar worked out for everyone last week and what the Saints defense must do against Washington to win.

1. Who will fill Marques' shoes?

The void left by the injured Marques Colston will be large, especially when you consider what the Saints have behind him.

Nothing that inspires sure-fire confidence, anyway.

But someone will have to step in the void and provide Drew Brees with a big-time receiving threat. I have an odd suggestion.

Reggie Bush.

Sure, Devery Henderson is quick enough to stretch the field — he proved that last week — and David Patten is a wily vet. Robert Meachem even had a solid preseason.

When it's all done, though, and Colston comes back, expect Bush to be the Saints' leading receiver.

Why? He has great hands, great speed and Brees trusts him almost as much as he trusts Colston. Trust is a big thing for quarterbacks. The Saints can line Bush up anywhere on the field and he can be difficult to defend, even for top cornerbacks. Put him in the slot against a safety or linebacker and it's no contest.

Henderson, tight end Jeremy Shockey and even Meachem may have some big games ahead of them, but in the end it will be Bush that Brees turns to the most when he needs a big play.

2. Dunbar the find

When the Saints had two of their six linebackers come up gimpy last week, they needed some help and turned to rookie Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who at the time was on their practice squad.

Smart move. While Dunbar didn't make any tackles on defense, he did produce a special teams tackle and the Saints coaching staff praised him for his work during the game. His tackle was a doozy, too, as he nailed Bucs rookie Dexter Jackson as he fielded a high kick from Saints punter Steve Weatherford. Jackson got a half-step before Dunbar leveled him.

Dunbar was one of the Saints' first signings after the draft, and after watching him play on Sunday it's easy to see why. He has quickness, but his physical play that impresses you. Playing in the ACC the past couple of years surely helped.

The Saints have plenty of veteran linebackers, but few young players. It's tough to base things on one week, but Dunbar's play leaves one optimistic that the Saints might have a gem on their hands.

3. Defensive key

The Saints were fairly surprising on defense last week, producing solid stops on third down and frustrating the Bucs pass offense enough to come away with an opening-day win.

The Saints made plenty of moves in the offseason to shore up their defense, but one area that didn't improve as well as the Saints had hoped was their run defense.

The Saints gave up 7.3 yards per carry against the Buccaneers last Sunday, as Earnest Graham – not exactly swift of foot – rushed for 91 yards on just 10 carries. Warrick Dunn added 54 yards on nine carries.

Those aren't the kind of numbers the Saints had in mind against the run this season. Some of that can be attributed to the loss of Hollis Thomas and playing rookie Sedrick Ellis inside.

But, giving up 146 yards against the run won't cut in during a 16-game season, and especially against this Sunday's opponent, the Washington Redskins. Head coach Jim Zorn would love nothing more than to establish his running game and take pressure off his young quarterback Jason Campbell. And the Redskins have a more capable back in Clinton Portis.

If the Saints aren't able to shore up their run defense this week, their pass defense may not be able to do enough to pick up the slack this time.

4. Deuce's status

This may become a weekly feature if this keeps up.

RB Deuce McAllister practiced all week last week, but didn't play at all last Sunday. In fact, with he and both Aaron Stecker out, the Saints had two running backs. Not good news.

Then, Sunday night, head coach Sean Payton had to call McAllister and assure him that he was still a part of the team's plans.

Really, coach? Then why didn't you play him?

If he's still being bothered by his knees, then put him on the injury report. But McAllister wasn't there all week last week. Every report had him practicing.

Perhaps the Saints don't want to overtax him too early in the season, and if that's the case, then you might want to let McAllister in on that before the game. He seemed as if he had no clue what was going on afterward.

Two ways to look at it. The Saints need to get Pierre Thomas more time, and they're doing just that. And that could protect McAllister from further injury.

But, if McAllister doesn't play and Thomas flourishes, what's the point in keeping McAllister?

Believe me, Deuce gets it.

5. My predictions

Deuce McAllister will not play for the second straight week, but will practice all week. More speculation will result.

The run defense will improve on Sunday, but not by much. They'll give up no more than 130 yards.

Reggie Bush will have at least 10 receptions.

The Saints will win rather easily to improve to 2-0.


Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of saintsinsider.com. He can be heard every Friday between 3-4 p.m. on WNSP Sports Radio 105.5 FM in Mobile, Ala.

SaintsInsider.com Recommended Stories