Aug 18, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) looks to pass during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park.

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Hebert: A tale of two halves, two quarterbacks, in Saints win

Seth Dunlap
August 18, 2019 - 9:41 pm
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It was a tale of two halves in the Saints comeback win in Los Angeles against the Chargers.  

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater struggled with his accuracy in the first half, and the offense sputtered in his wake.  The Saints managed just three points in the first two quarters, unable to capitalize on three trips inside Chargers territory.  That included two treks inside the 10-yard line that resulted in Saints turnovers.  Miscommunication between Bridgewater and center Erik McCoy ended one goal-to-go threat, after an early snap on fourth down was fumbled and scooped up by the Chargers.  Later in the half, Bridgewater threw an interception near the goal line on an errant pass intended for Dwayne Washington.

Former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert knows a bit about ugly preseason football, having played 11 seasons in the NFL.  Hebert was especially frustrated with the offense's performance in the first half.

"After witnessing that and going into halftime . . . I was ready for a nap," The Cajun Cannon quipped on 'The Locker Room Show' after the game on the Saints Radio Network.  "And then all of the sudden Taysom (Hill) got going and then, 'Ah, ya know, the Saints are coming back.'  Even though it's preseason you got more action.  Where we are getting first downs, or we are moving the football."

Hill did indeed lead the team's second half comeback, with the third-string quarterback looking sharp completing 11 of his 15 pass attempts.  He totaled 136 yards and two touchdowns through the air and added another 53 yards on the ground.  It was a bounce back week for Hill, who struggled in the team's preseason opener against Minnesota.

Head coach Sean Payton tried to explain away the disparate performance by the Saints' two backup quarterbacks, telling the media after the game that Bridgewater had been playing with an illness.  That got Hebert questioning why Payton felt the need to publicly defend Bridgewater, as the veteran coach often eschews doing so in post-game press conferences.

"You can be sick and still make easy throws.  I don't know, you can't use that as an excuse," Hebert said.  "When does Sean (Payton) start defending a player that way.  I consider being sickness kind of like an injury.  And usually they don't reveal that at times."

While the offense had a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde afternoon in California, the Saints defense was much improved over last week.  That was especially clear on third downs, a glaring weakness against the Vikings.

"We were outstanding defensively on third down.  (The Chargers) were only four of 14 (on third down), twenty-nine percent,"  Hebert noted.  "That's a big plus for the defense who was coming off last week when they gave up five of seven, seventy-one percent."

The Saints win continued a run of preseason dominance over the Chargers.  They've now won four consecutive preseason games against the Chargers franchise, going back to the franchise's days in San Diego.

"We have had the Chargers number as of late.  We are now riding a four game winning streak in exhibition," Hebert said. "The last time we lost myself, Hokie (Gajan) and Steve Korte were all involved in it."

Hebert is referring to a 21-20 San Diego triumph in 1985, his first season in the NFL and the last time New Orleans lost a preseason contest to the Chargers. 

Now the Saints return home for training camp, and will prepare to face the New York Jets next Saturday in New Jersey in their third preseason tune-up.  

Listen to Hebert's full post-game commentary in the podcast below.

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