4 weeks ago we did a review on the first 4 games of the 2016 season. The Saints played 4 games vs the Panthers, Chiefs, Seahawks and 49ers. They went 3-1 in that period. outperforming all of our expectations. Nobody would have put in a lot of money on the Saints beating the Seahawks.
Marijn Pessers (@Monedula_)
I myself predicted predicted 1-3 where you Brian had a 3-1 feeling but backed down to 2-2. So how awesome this is, it is also pretty remarkable that the Saints re performing this well. Their defense has been very very bad at certain times and just above mediocre at their best. The 49ers game might have been their best performance if you take away all the quick passes/runs to the outside. What do you think is the reason for their success?
Brian Bauer (@SaintBrian9)
Glad to be back for another quarter pole wrap Marijn, and even happier that my 3-1 feeling panned out! The Saints have won 3 or their last 4 games (and 4 of their last 5 if you want to be even more optimistic) and here we are, sitting at .500. So let’s get right to your question … what’s the reason for this success? Honestly, I think the truth is that the last 4 games are a lot truer to who this team really is – they’re pretty darn good, actually. I think they were the same pretty darn good team to open the season too, but bad breaks (officiating, injuries, turnovers) caught up with them early. In other words, give New Orleans that same opening slate again and I think you’d have a result a lot like the last four games. The offense is clicking just like we’d hoped when the die was cast in the offseason (well, maybe not fleener), and the defense – I’m not going to write anything resembling “good”, “great” or even “decent” here – but the fact is the defense has been “good enough.” That’s about what we all hoped for heading into this year, it’s just taken about 6 weeks to show up. What about you Marijn? What’s the secret of the Saints success?
Honestly I have no clue haha. Well come to think of it I do have an Idea. The TEAM. I saw a video on a charity event by Morstead and he said something along the lines like: “To see the turnout, all the guys helping out even after a tough loss [at KC] it shows what kind of team we have. It was hard last year to get this many guys to show.” So it is the team. They will work for eachother and try and help each other. They know the defense is not great but instead of blaming they say: well the offense has to be a bit better then.
The emergence of some guys has helped too. Last time we also talked about about goat and GOAT of these 4 games. I called Crawley the goat, but though he wasn’t really good he was not bad either. My GOAT was Lutz and he has done really well. He DID score a winning FG and he had a very good day vs the Seahawks. Your call for GOAT was pretty spot on. Thomas. He should be Rookie of the Year and I sure hope the Saints do well in the playoffs just to make him noticed over Eliot or Dak. Also talk about your goat – I will save you the looking up the old post – Fleener.
Lutz has been very good and it’s really clear Payton is just dying for him to nail one from half a mile away and really show off what the kid’s got. He’s missed a couple, but I get the feeling that for whatever reason, he’s got a lot more rope than many others before him have had and hopefully he can continue to improve. Crawley, I agree, hasn’t been nearly as bad as we thought. Got to give him just a tiny bit of leeway – pretty hard to do a big boy job right off the top when you came into the season thinking you were a backup’s backup.
I think I already took a little jab at Mr. Fleener in my opening, so nice to see I’m still on point. In truth, Fleener has shown flashes of what the Saints had in mind when they signed him, but the drops and stuff are just brutal. Maybe he’s just on the wrong end of every bad pass that Brees throws, but I always feel like every incomplete pass on third down is in his general direction. Meanwhile, we might be starting to see what happened in Indy. After drafting Fleener and not quite getting what they wanted, enter Dwayne Allen. Is the same thing happening in New Orleans, where suddenly old buddy Josh Hill is making his presence felt? In all, I think this is all a good thing. Fleener playing better, Hill being a factor. Just more weapons opponents have to count for.
Maybe I’m jumping ahead here buddy, but did I just see you write “do well in the playoffs”?
So lets move on to what they should address, what to keep and what to do away with for the next 4 games. Let me start by saying what they should improve; pass rush. Can’t put it much better then that. They have Rankins how back. he should develop and they should get more QB pressure. If you increase that it makes it so much easier for the rest. If you look at the last game they were a lot better in the second half and that is by blitzing a lot. If Kaepernick would have been a better passing QB that could have cost us the game. No blitzing is needed if your front 4 generates huge pressure. What do you see as a point of improvement? … or did I pretty much cut the grass out from under you?
Pass rush is important, but so are better tackling and angle of pursuit. You mentioned if Kap had been a better passer they could have lost that game; I’ll disagree. Kap PASSED for like 25 yards. The Yards After Catch, however, was absurd. Guys catching balls in space, and turning to find wide open lanes to the end zone. When there was pursuit, the tacklers frequently took exactly the wrong angles and off to the races we went. I think Allen might be gambling a bit up front, and with your aforementioned pass rush not getting there, it’s leaving some brutally open people who are picking up yardage by the acre. What should they keep doing? Running. Yeah, it’s a little frustrating having Brees on TWO fantasy teams and watching Ingram and Hightower go bananas, but as a fan, it’s fantastic. If teams have to respect the Saints on the ground, they can pay even less attention to what they’re doing in the air. It also wears out opposing defensive lines and that keeps Brees standing longer, which is always a good thing. What do you think?
Indeed the run game has shown to be excellent. i think in the last 4 games they balanced out the running vs pass play selection about 3 times. Well that is easy when you are winning and the run game is going somewhere. I bet if Denver is able to stop effective runs you will see a shift in play selection. Keeping true to the run would increase the Saints chances of winning though. The thing I think they should keep doing? Creating takeaways. The games in which they have been getting INTs and fumbles have been good. Always go for the ball. Set yourself up to be able to make INTs even if it might cost you a couple completions. I will also throw in the thing that they need to change. That is in this case a guy. Cadet. I NEVER EVER have been a fan of him. I was sad they brought him back last season and he was good a game or 2 but he is just awful! I said it last time I did not like him one bit but last game; Waiting a full second before starting your return out of the end zone… Fair catching a ball that would have gone out of bounds, not to mention the numerous drops. I say we can find 100 currently FAs who would do a better job on this team than this guy.
Yep I agree with you on all fronts and by all means let’s move on from Cadet. I wouldn’t mind seeing what Daniel Lasco can do while we’re at it.
So as has become the tradition, let’s take a look at the next four. 1-3 at the first quarter pole, and 3-1 at the second. What’s the likely outcome for the next four, vs Denver, at Carolina, vs LA and vs Detroit?
For starters I see three home games and one very very dangerous road game. I’m gonna go bold this time around, and take another 3-1 mark. How? I like the Saints to continue their hot streak this week against Denver, falter a bit on the short week in Carolina, and then rebounding for two straight. That would put New Orleans at a thrifty 7-5 with high hopes for the last quarter of the year. Marijn?
I was gonna go 3-1 but then I remembered the Saints always lose the trap game. Rams will be that trap game and i see them lose to the Lions as well. 6-6… Lets just hope the Falcons finally collapse and the Saints are leading the division. how great would that be? I am still not having much hope for this season though. I am still already looking at next season. It should be awesome! A great team and then fill in some key positions with free agents. If you look at what they have acquired during the off season. It has been 50/50. Laurenitis is not good. Fairly has a drop off now but there is Robertson and well Evans. I mean if they can hit on a few key positions they could go a long way. But first lets just get though these next 4 games.
One tidbit left. Who do you think will be the goat and who will be the GOAT of the next 4 games? And of course we need to exclude Brees as GOAT. Because…. Just because. There is no question he is the GOAT always. So who do you pick?
Wow – so you have them defeating Denver AND Carolina, and then having the massive letdown of losing 2 straight to middling teams? Ugh. Man I hope that’s not true! Let’s start with the negative – the goat. Through absolutely no fault of his own, I’m going to say the goat is probably gonna be Terron Armstead. This is a guy the Saints need SO badly to be the best offensive lineman on the team, and I think that his injury (he probably should have been on the PUP or possibly even IR designated to return) is going to continue to limit him until he winds up on IR for real. He missed more than half the game against SF, and while that didn’t prove to be a huge deal, SF is decimated by bad decisions and injury. Teams like Carolina and Denver won’t be so courteous.
The GOAT is going to be Brandin Cooks. Mike Thomas has arrived, officially, and the notion of leaving him to roam in single coverage and giving Brees an outlet on every passing down is simply something defenses cannot afford. Cooks is going to take advantage of Thomas’ attention in a big way, and is going to have a ridiculous month that will put him in pro bowl conversations.
Marijn – talk to me about goats (and GOATS) …
Well after Drumpf beating Hilary anything can happen right? Good choices on Goats. My GOAT is gonna be Thomas. I kinda stole him from you haha. You say he has arrived. No baby! Do you remember Jimmy graham how he was held beck year 1? Ingram was also held back year 1. Thomas can not be held back. He is gonna explode way sooner. I pick Thursday night vs the Panthers. He will score 3 TDs against the Panthers. He will be in serious rookie of the year conversation.
The goat… I was thinking how about Brees? Well.. I thought hard about it. But it is not possible. He always has a lesser game, but I think this year, no. He will be awesome. At least the coming 4 games. My goat was my GOAT of the last 4 weeks. Lutz is very promising but he has never been really perfect. I think he is gonna miss one from 35 in the last seconds 2 points down. He is a cool guy but he has some technique problems. They will show that game.
We started writing this Monday and I got Brian to barely reply me this last part. I do not know if he is lying in bed crying, getting drunk or contemplating the best way to flee the country… I just hope he is around in 4 weeks to do the next quarterly review. I hope you will be too. See you then!