First of all, I love how confused the national sports media has been when trying to figure out this team (even Vegas has been confused!), so let’s get into this glorious scene known as the 2019 New Orleans Saints. The Saints crushed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers like a Florida man finishing his Natural Light. It was amazing to watch. I ate popcorn like I was watching Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time, and it’s been weeks since I blinked my eyes out of fear it’s all a dream. Teddy is 3-0 as a starter for New Orleans in 2019, and he tied his 4 TD game record from when he was with the Vikings. Our defense was sacking Jameis so much at one point, even an ex con got in on the action. It’s another season of amazingness and wackiness, let’s just hope it ends with a Super Bowl title this time, Who Dats. This feels like so many seasons in the Sean Payton era where we get on these ridiculous streaks, and if nothing else, we gotta enjoy these Payton/Brees years while we can. So let’s take a dip in a Lazurus pool, and party like it’s 2009, Saints fans!! Let’s geaux!!
Let’s go back to before this game started. A lot of mixed opinions from both sides going around the media circles. Tampa just lit up the Rams for 55 points last week. Teddy Bridgewater and the offense hadn’t put up anything spectacular, but we beat Seattle at CenturyLink Field two weeks ago, and Dallas at home last week. Tampa’s defense was the #1 rush defense coming into the game, but their secondary was garbage. We’re all guilty of overusing the word “garbage”, but in all honesty how bad are we talking? Well after Sunday’s game, it’s safe to declare the Bucs secondary as hot garbage level defcon 5 apparently. By the 4th quarter, we had relagated the Tampa secondary to “Trash Island”, which involves a whole lot of disappointment if you’ve never visited. Some experts even called this a “trap game”, which is silly to say because it’s a division rival. Atlanta is a hot mess dancing at the Saint at 4 A.M., but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts they will be ready to play when the Saints come marching.
A lot of experts also said if the Saints and Teddy Bridgewater were gonna show more on offense, this was a chance to do it, unless they really are a simple “dink and dunk” offense supported by Kamara and Thomas. Offensively, Teddy delivered. 26-34 completions for 314 yards and 4 touchdowns?? Yeah, he did alright, I guess. And the proof is in the playcalling. A lot of downfield plays and deeper routes were dialed up that we hadn’t really seen until last Sunday. That #1 run defense? They did well considering the challenge. Alvin only had 62 yards on the ground. The Saints had 91 on the ground, not including QB scrambles. Kamara was also smart about safely taking what they gave him and going out of bounds cleanly when possible. So yeah, Tampa’s front 7 held well. They are certainly a solid front. What did not hold well, you might ask? Oh you mean the pass defense, perhaps?
Tampa lost their best cover corner, Carlton Davis, to ejection after a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on TE Jared Cook. People have been arguing the call, but here’s the bottom line: his feet left the ground, he led with his helmet, and speared Jared Cook in the head. Pretty cut and dry. And it did indeed change the game, because the second half was a passing onslaught. If Saints receivers and tight ends were fish, the field was definitely a barrel. My only regret was still not seeing more players involved in the passing game, but it was great to see a more productive Jared Cook.
The Saints defense really delivered in this game yet again after coming alive in Seattle. It’s almost as if, after the Rams loss, the defense got together and said, “Drew is down. We’ll put this team on our shoulders and scorch the earth.” By the end of the game, the score looked close, but if you watched the game, Jameis Winston was running for his life all day. Lattimore held Mike Evans to 0 catches all day. ZERO!! New Orleans’ front 7 racked up 6 sacks. Three in a row by three different players on one drive (my favorite moment of the game)!! Winston finished the day 15-27, 204 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Saints had at least 2 interceptions that should’ve happened, but were negated by dumb penalties (and by dumb, one was negated by a delay of game call on Tampa, and for some crazy reason they let the whole play play out despite throwing the flag when the clock expired). And yet, somehow the final outcome 24-31 Saints.
Tampa got some breaks to keep the game interesting. Bridgewater threw a pick to set up a short field for the Bucs in the first quarter (his only mistake on the day, really). Deonte Harris had a career worst day in his short fledgling career to date. Luckily, he didn’t turnover the ball, but it came close as he got his clock cleaned in a “welcome to the NFL” hit. Probably the most controversial call of the game, he fumbled after a hard hit blew him up, the ball came free, a dogpile ensued, a Tampa player ran out of the pile with the ball, but after review they determined it was not clear which team actually recovered the ball. A rare lucky break for the Saints.
The Saints are loaded pretty much all around the roster. We knew that going into this season. Since the arrival of Jeff Ireland in 2017 as the Assistant GM and head of scouting, our draft success has been through the roof, and we’ve hit on several free agents as well. That depth combined with one of the best coaching staffs in the league is why you don’t count out the Saints, even when it’s Drew Brees who goes down.
Time and again, Sean Payton has proven that we, as fans, just need to be patient, and it will all make sense later. No he’s not perfect, but the man learns from mistakes, makes adjustments, and moves forward. Remember toward the end of our three 7-9 seasons, Payton recognized that the locker room culture and player characters and leadership needed to be improved? And he made it a point to change and improve all of that. That’s good coaching. And it’s made a difference. Our players now have a strong bond, and the leadership is outstanding. Look at how Demario Davis picked up the reins in Drew’s absense and hyped up this team!
So no, we shouldn’t be shocked that this team is THAT good. The Saints have been putting this team together for years, and now we are seeing the result of a quiet rebuild. Our offense, though not the golden years of insane stats, finds different ways to win. Our defense, who is boasting a 31 game streak without a 100 yard rusher, now has a solid pass defense to back it up. And our special teams are one of the best groups in the league. I’m not even worried about Deonte Harris. He’ll get the practice reps and the coaching, and the guy will grow into a beast. Credit to all of the coaches. If it wasn’t for a Minnesota Miracle and a NOLA No Call, we’d be working our way to a 4th Super Bowl Appearance, 3rd in a row, and in just over 10 years. That’s not easy to do, especially considering that the NFC South is a lot tougher generally than some other divisions around the league. Name someone not the New England Patriots that can boast that consistent level of play over the same time. That’s why we can’t go hating on this team. If this 2019 New Orleans Saints has disappointed you in any way, I think you should maybe just not watch football in general.
And now we’re off to Jacksonville to face off with the 2-3 Jaguars! Don’t let their record fool you, this team has started off with a tough schedule just like us. They lost their home opener to the Chiefs followed by a close loss in Houston. Then they went on a two game winning streak against the Titans and the Broncos, only to fall 34-27 to the Panthers because they couldn’t stop Christian McCaffrey.
They lost their starting QB Nick Foles to a season ending injury before the regular season. That has led to the rise of Gardner Minshew and his mustache. He’s been a pleasant surprise for the Jags, and he’s a big reason why former LSU standout receiver DJ Chark is having a monster breakout season thus far. Combined in that attack is none of than former LSU star Leonard Fournette, who will certainly be a focus in this week’s Saints practices.
The Jacksonville defense has taken a bit of a slide so far this season, but they’re still a good defense. There’s a possibility that Jalen Ramsey could return to the field, which would certainly give the team a needed boost against Michael Thomas. Jalen has caused a bit of drama this season wanting to be traded out because he got dissed by the front office. A lot of Saints fans were clammoring for a Ramsey trade. I say, keep that shit away from us, we good.
Barring some ridiculous turnovers or poor officiating, the Saints should be able to go into Jacksonville and handle business. We’ve already played this kind of team this season, and we’re built for it. Fornette will get shut down. Jags will become one dimensional. New Orleans needs to make a statement every week to let the world know we’re coming, just like 2009. Nothing personal Jacksonville.
Saints 33 – Jaguars 19
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