GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 10: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints warms up before the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Saints 30-20. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
What's going on with our offense this year? Yeah, yeah, Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are hurt. Still, they played the first couple of games and it didn't seem to help. To everyone's shock, the Saints are averaging 19.8 points per game through 5 games. Sadly I took their offensive productivity for granted, based on how the Saints performed the first four years in the Sean Payton era. But this year, they're not running the ball enough, they're not running it well when they do, and they are struggling to throw it. Red zone percentage? Forget it. In case you were wondering for comparison's sake, the Saints averaged a healthy 31.9 points per game last year. The bottom line is the Saints are looking so beatable because they aren't putting points up on the scoreboard. It's time for Sean Payton and his crew to get back to what they do best, and starting this week. Make the jump for some interesting stats.
Through 5 games in 2010: 95.7 passer rating, 71.4% completions, and 7.1 yards per attempt.
Through 15 games in 2009: 109.6 passer rating, 70.6% completions, and 8.5 yards per attempt.
Through 5 games in 2010: 75.6 yards per game rushing, 3.3 yards per carry, 0.6 fumbles per game.
Through 16 games in 2009: 131.6 yards per game rushing, 4.5 yards per carry, 0.375 fumbles per game.
Through 5 games in 2010: Yielding 3 QB hits per game, yielding 1.6 sacks per game.
Through 16 games in 2009: Yielding 3.25 QB hits per game, yiedling 1.25 sacks per game.
PENALTIES (the whole team)
Through 5 games in 2010: Committing 4.4 penalties per game
Through 16 games in 2010: Committing 5.6 penalties per game
Through 5 games in 2010: 1.8 drops per game
Through 16 games in 2009: 1.19 drops per game
What does this all mean? Despite common perception that the line isn't performing as well, I'm not sure I agree. Granted, the running attack is horrendous so far. I'd blame Pierre Thomas, Lynell Hamilton and Reggie Bush all being hurt, but before they got injured they were miserable this season. In fact, Ladell Betts and Chris Ivory have both been way more productive. I guess you could argue that PT Cruiser and Reggie would have been MORE productive in those games, but we'll never know. You could blame the offensive line for doing a poor job of run blocking. Pass blocking wise, though, they are giving up slightly more sacks and slightly less hits on the quarterback. Overall it's about a wash. Also, the Saints are committing far fewer penalties so far in 2010. So everyone is talking about Jahri Evans' holding calls and whatnot, but as a team, the Saints are far more disciplined this year in that area.
What is obvious: Drew Brees is still performing pretty well, but not nearly as well as in 2009. The receivers are dropping more passes. The running backs aren't producing. Basically, the skilled players that are in a position to make the plays simply aren't making the plays. So that's who's to blame for the major drop off. I think it's mostly Brees, the receivers and the backs. I think the line has played worse than last year, but less so than the other groups. Kicker is obviously hurting the Saints' ability to score points too, with already 4 misses in 5 games.
So is @ Tampa the game that turns it around? How do you think they will fare? I think it's time for the Saints' offense to show up, put up points, and perform like they have for the last five years. Plain and simple, through 5 games, they're not getting it done.