From the top, Griffin was extremely well prepared and poised and considering the circumstances much props to Griffin and the Shanahans. The offensive line played relatively well considering they didn’t get much time to play as a unit before the opener. But they have played together in the past so they know how to communicate well with each other. Chester was really good. Chester is tailored to the zone blocking scheme. He is powerful and athletic and can get to the second level on running plays. Liechtensteiger and Montgomery were solid and considering Liechtensteiger was hurt that was a welcome surprise. Polumbus didn’t hurt the cause plus he avoided penalties of any kind. Williams played with controlled anger. He was killing defenders to end plays. I don’t know what happened but for one first down in the 4th quarter Jordan Black came in to sub for Williams for one play. You can actually see Williams standing on the sidelines watching but he came back in on the very next play so who knows what that was about. The TE’s blocked well also. The RB’s also played their asses off especially in blitz pickups (Helu is the best of the 3 at this point in pass protection and in my opinion is the best all around RB for now). Morris has good vision and deceptive quickness but you gotta love his power. The ball was spread around but that may have been the result of Garcon getting hurt. I like to see the ball spread around to keep the defense honest. Griffin may become a nightmare for defenses because the threat he poses with his legs freezes LB’s and puts DB’s in vulnerable positions. That’s when they make mistakes in coverage or just straight up get burned. If the OL can protect Griffin we should see more big plays downfield in the passing game. What’s encouraging is that I don’t believe Griffin and the WR’s are completely on the same page yet. It will come with experience so the pasing game has room to improve. Also, this offense has lacked the ability to draw pass interference penalties in the past (which kill and demoralize defenses) but hopefully that's a thing of the past. Drawing pass interference penalties are huge in generating TD's. Although Griffin was somewhat of an unknown so it remains to be seen if the league will have a better gauge on how to attack our offense once the cycle of 4 games gets around the league. He needs to learn that not every play has to be downfield. Sometimes he has to accept a dump pass that results in a first down and forego the deep pass that could be an incompletion or worse especially when you factor in the down and distance. A good example was the play where he junked the deep pass on a second and short to throw a beautiful touch pass to Helu for a first down. A bad example was when he threw a bomb to Robinson on a 4th and inches. It resulted in a pass interference penalty against NO but it was a bad call by the refs and the ball should’ve been turned over on downs. Griffin ended up getting lucky on that mistake.
The defense tackled well and collectively. Props to Hasslett and to Rahim Morris. The DL was really good in blocking passes and reacting to the offense. It helps to have Fletcher. With this scheme and with the versatility of guys like Bowen, Jenkins, Orakpo and Kerrigan they can go into a game with one fewer lineman which opens up a key roster spot somewhere else. Carriker looked active so it looks like he is finally returning to form from the injury. Bowen was fantastic. The OLB’s seem finally comfortable in the scheme and look much more comfortable in space. Kerrigan and Orakpo should create problems for QB’s in upcoming games, especially when they dog from an overload side. They did get burned on the blitz a couple of times so they need to get that ironed out. Cedric Griffin played a good game which was a nice surprise. His strip that saved a TD and led to a touchback and change of possession is being overlooked as one of the biggest plays that turned the game around. Josh Wilson was good but he’s still soft and left the game a couple of times after a tackle only to return on the next play. There’s talk that “Crystal” Otagwe may be brought back because of the injury to safety Jordan Bernstine. They have to cut out the stupid penalties. Williams did some good things but he had a horrible penalty and also got burned on a 4th and 10 for a TD because he was peeking into the backfield from 30 freaking yards out! That was disgusting! I think up tempo offenses can cause them problems in the secondary though so it’s imperative to get Merriweather back soon. The most important element of this defense is LONDON freakING FLETCHER! (BTW, NO TE Jimmy Graham is a nightmare to defend)
They had far too many penalties and miscues on special teams. Robert Jackson was too eager to get downfield to cover a punt and it ended up getting the punt blocked (on that play if you slow down the replay you can see the hit that broke Sundberg’s left arm). Rocca mishandled a snap that led to a penalty. Banks put the ball on the ground twice (again). But Cundiff was soild.