Rams Saints Football

Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) defends against New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) during the second half the NFL football NFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. The Rams won 26-23.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

OK, if the NFL insists on presenting these exhibition games as meaningful, let’s play along with the gag.

Let’s overanalyze the Saints’ first preseason exhibition of the season — sorry, no way you should call it a “game” ­— as if it was played on the level.

OK, that’s impossible, but let me get down off the rant.

Actually, for preseason fare, the Saints-Viking scuffle Friday night had near brushes with entertainment.

Certainly it was enough to give football-starved fans a taste of action.

At times it looked like football, with the added bonus that even Saints fans realize the final score doesn’t matter and it’s no big whoop that the Who Dats lost 35-24.

If recent years have taught us anything it’s that you’d almost be afraid if the Saints did start winning the August games on the scoreboard.

Besides, it’s kind of hard to take the Saints seriously when Drew Brees doesn’t play. And Brees stayed right on the bench (looking antsy for action) where he belongs for these affairs.

The Saints defense gave up 460 yards of Viking offense while looking confused, out of position and mostly disinterested.

Perhaps the start of the season will remedy that.

What Friday’s game basically turned into was a showcase for the backup quarterbacking job between Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill.

It’s not something most Saints fans care to fathom, but the organization has to consider life without Brees. And I’m working on the assumption here that the franchise will not just disband when Brees hangs it up.

Bridgewater looked OK and Hill was the Taysom Hill we’ve come to wonder at.

We already know that the Saints will find things for Hill to do even while Brees is in the game.

But who’s the true backup to take over if — again, repeat, perish the thought — Brees was unable to go in a game that meant something?

Well, here’s a nutty notion: Maybe the Saints have a dual backup quarterback plan.

If Brees were go down during a game — again, not saying it will happen but if it did — then I’d say Hill is the man to step up and finish that game.

What he does is so different from the quarterbacking norm that any team that prepared for Brees all week surely would have some serious adjusting to do, on the fly, with all of Hill’s nuttiness.

Bridgewater would just be a lesser version of Brees, presumably easier to deal with.

But quarterback gimmicks like Hill rarely work out long term, week in and week out, as defenses have to focus all their attention on figuring it out.

So if you’re looking at a couple of weeks without Brees — not that it will ever come up — then maybe a more traditional quarterback like Bridgewater would be better choice. Perhaps with more cameo appearances from Hill than he gets.

Anyway, it’s just an August thought.

A few other observations from Friday night:

l At the risk of overreacting, the Saints may have found something in return specialist Deonte Harris from Assumption College, the same little Division III school that gifted LSU with placekicker Cole Tracy as a graduate transfer last season.

He showed enough to at least want to watch the next meaningless exhibition to see if it was a fluke.

l If you were puzzled seeing LSU beside Cyril Grayson Jr.’s name after his 32-yard catch and wondered if he was just another pass-catching accessory the Tigers wasted, the answer is no. All he did in Baton Rouge is run track. Evidently, he’s fast.

l The NFL’s bold foray into pass interference as a booth reviewable play is much ado about nothing.

It’s part of the league’s response to the no-call in last season’s Saints-Rams NFC championship game that introduced the word egregious to the common language.

So maybe it was fitting that head coach Sean Payton went to his red flag when the Saints’ Kayvon Webster was flagged for defensive interference against Vikings wide receiver LaQuon Treadwell.

It wasn’t pass interference, but it’s the kind of call you’ve learned to live with when officials are in their flag-happy mode.

That’s supposed to have a remedy now.

Not this time. It supposedly didn’t meet the all the particulars to the letter of the law to get overturned.

OK. Fair enough.

But of not that play, then when? If the officials in the booth didn’t reverse THAT call, then the message was clear: coaches are wasting their time if they use one of their precious red protest flags on pass interference.

Just get used to it and deal with bad calls like always.

Nothing has really changed.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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