For those wondering if the title is a typo, I left the ‘D’ in New Orleans the same way the Saints did. Don’t let the turnovers fool you. The Saints defense got bailed out by a team that can’t resist shooting themselves in the foot, but the number of broken coverages and cases of ‘too slow’ to the ball in this game was agonizing. The 49ers offense was the worst in the NFL coming into this game, they put up 496 yards of offense on the Saints defense and scored on multiple long td plays. It was very apparent that the Saints sold out to stop Kapaernick from rushing in this game, but in doing so they left themselves vulnerable in the flats. They were repeatedly gashed for big gains by players who were entirely uncovered, and the reality is that without a Davis fumble at the goal line and a very timely Kenny Vacarro forced fumble in the fourth this game could have come down to the wire.
It isn’t all bad news though. The Saints offense looked like a death machine versus the 49ers, they rushed for 248 yards (including a SHOCKING 75 yard TD run from a VERY angry Ingram), threw for 323 yards, and the only error the offense made was a missed 55 yard field goal from Will Lutz (and he was perfect on his other 2, so while not great, missing from 55 is not a death sentence). For the most part the offensive line held their own even after Terron Armstead went to the locker room (and I PRAY that this was precautionary because Ware and Miller will kill Drew without him). The team showed balance, confidence, and started to have some of the old swagger that has been missing for the last few years. If the Saints want to make the second half of the season interesting, then they have to dumptruck bad teams. They only play one (arguably two) teams in their final 8 games who don’t fit that criteria. I don’t care how they do it, but if they can just beat bad teams like this they will have at least a chance at the playoffs.
The biggest test of the year comes next week, and if you aren’t terrified of Denver’s all world defense then you are delusional. But the emergence of Michael Thomas to complement Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks gives Brees something he hasn’t had before when facing elite defenses. He has receivers who can win a one on one matchup, Payton doesn’t have to scheme everyone open, and that allows him to focus his efforts on attacking the defense through formations and personnel. I won’t predict a Saints win next week, especially with this tire fire of a defense, but they will be able to keep it interesting at least and that is way better than I thought possible at the beginning of the year.
- Michael Thomas is a flat out stud, and the catch he made in the end zone was just ridiculous.
- The Saints desperately need speed on the defensive side of the football. The only player they have who can ‘fly around’ is vacarro. That’s not good.
- Seriously….read the last one, it needs to be mentioned twice.
- Nate Stupar isn’t a great linebacker, but man does he seem to have a knack for clutch plays the last two weeks
- Greg McMahon needs to have his ticket confiscated and be left at the airport, what an embarrassing unit.
- Drew Brees is awesome. Not really a brilliant insight, but just thought I’d point that out.
- Andrus Peat is moving from ‘bust’ to ‘beast’ slowly but surely, and some of his run blocking snaps are beautiful.
- Delvin Breaux was on a snap count, but the difference between him and Moore, and every other possible combination is as clear as day.
- Mark Ingram had damn near the game of his life, and while the opponent had a lot to do with it, it was great to see him respond to his coach challenging him instead of pouting. A true pro performance.