The Saints have shown an incredible ability this year to achieve victory even in defeat, by defeating themselves. It was awful coverage and penalties against the Raiders, forgetting to block someone on a FG against the Giants, two 4th quarter fumbles against Denver, and two turnovers early to put themselves down big against Carolina. The reality is that the Saints have only truly lost one game this year. They have arguably beaten themselves in the other 5 losses. Drew Brees holding on to the ball too long, taking unnecessary shots against cover two, failing to execute on simple defensive plays, dumb penalties. The Saints have shown signs of being an improving team, and we will cover those in the ‘Observations’ section, but the reality is that this is probably a 6 win football team.
There is absolutely no question in my mind that if Delvin Breaux, PJ Williams, and Terron Armstead are healthy the Saints have 3 losses at the MOST, however the reality is that those players aren’t healthy. You can play the what if game all you want, but at the end of the day when you are an ‘almost’ team the margin for error is just too small. The Saints offense made critical errors early in this game. The first was the sack/fumble on Brees where he waited WAY too long to get rid of the ball and paid the price for it. The second was also on Drew where he took an ill advised shot along the sideline and floated the pass which was intercepted. Beyond those two plays he was largely fine, but the offensive line got bullied badly until very late in the game when the Panthers front was obviously gassed.
Some of the issues that plagued this team tonight are ones that have been problematic all season long and will continue for the rest for the year. However, others can and should be corrected. Having returners who catch the ball out of bounds at the two is unforgivable, having special teams mistakes that have tremendous impact in a negative fashion EVERY WEEK is not acceptable. Having an offense that presses and forces plays and turns the ball over CANNOT happen on a regular basis. Having receivers drop passes in key situations, corners who can’t play the sticks, and worst of all have idiotic penalties that are completely unnecessary can ALL be fixed. The fact is that the Saints defense got to the quarterback, and without his ability to be a running back Cam Newton was as mediocre of a quarterback as he usually is. They should have won this game, the plays were there to be made, but the Saints shot themselves in the foot as seems to be the case this year.
- Sheldon Rankins has had a major impact from the get go, and he’s only going to get better.
- Dannel Ellerbe may or may not be an elite linebacker (when he is actually on the field), but he damn sure has an elite level impact for the Saints
- Vonn Bell, Michael Thomas, David Onyematta, Andrus Peat, are just a few of the young names the Saints can build around, its nice to see.
- Will Lutz is at a crossroads. He’s got bucketloads of talent. But in my opinion he either fixes his low kicks, or he gets the boot. he’s got 6 weeks.
- The offensive line has struggled against bull rushes all year, especially the backups and that continued in this game. Peat was sorely missed on the interior.
- Drew Brees is pressing at times, and its killing the small chances to win the team has.
- Craig Robertson and Nick Fairley were HOMERUN signings, homeruns folks. If I’m Mickey I extend Nick tomorrow. He’s earned it.
- Brandin Cooks is just as capable of being a tough possession receiver as he is a deep threat, they need to use that more.
- Ingram and Hightower have the same problem, they are wholly dependent on their blocking…but I like them as a combo.
- Cam Newton isn’t a good quarterback, not when he tries to play the position pure.