You Can't Guard Mike
You may not have been in favor of the Saints drafting wide receiver Mike Thomas in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft, because we either wanted the Saints to draft defensive players or draft a guard! Mom, we needed a guard!!! But then again, you mustn't know Sean Payton well if you thought he wasn't going to get a little offensive toy early in the draft. Well, Mike Thomas was it and yesterday, I saw something I wasn't sure I would see anytime soon: A rookie wide receiver lined up across from all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman...and the rookie won. When he was lined up against DeShawn Shead, the other talented cornerback for the Seahawks, Thomas won again. He finished the game with a perfect six receptions on six targets, a 10.5 yards-per-catch average and a long of 17. On the season, the rookie who replaced our beloved Marques Colston sits right at 42 receptions for 500 yards. At this pace, Thomas will have about 96 catches for 1000 yards when the season is over. Not too shabby for a first NFL campaign. Hats Off Mister Thomas!
All Along the Hightower
26 rushes, 102 yards and a 3.9 yards-per-carry average and a long run of 28 yards. Against the Seahawks? You better believe it. After Mark Ingram fumbled for the second time in as many games, Sean Payton did something we barely ever see from him: he benched Ingram for the remainder of the game. Enter Tim Hightower, who ran the ball against the stingiest defense in the NFL as if he was a man possessed. Hightower is one of the best feel-good stories in the NFL, a guy who was out of the NFL for years after a devastating knee injury at the end of the 2011 season. After being cut by the Washington Redskins in 2012, Hightower didn't play in the NFL again until being given a shot in New Orleans last season, and boy has he made the absolute best of his second chance at football! You root for guys like this and it's such a rewarding experience to see them come up big on the big stage.
The Amazing Offensive Linemen
Terron Armstead is playing with a bad knee. Andrus Peat is hit-or-miss, Zach Strief and Jahri Evans are a combined 66 years old and Max Unger is on the other side of thirty. And yet, Drew Brees has been sacked only 11 times so far this season. Against the Seahawks, Brees often had ample time to throw and a good enough pocket to step up and find his targets. Against the toughest defense they'll face apart from the Denver Broncos', the Saints rushed 35 times for 123 yards, a 3.5 ypc that was made possible again by the offensive line. Suffice to say that even if they're not a perfect unit, our preseason fears about the Saints' offensive line were greatly exaggerated, as yesterday's game against Seattle was a performance for the ages.
That's how many points the Seattle Seahawks scored in the entire second half of Sunday's game in the Mercedes Ben Superdome. With the second half of games having been a house of horrors for the Saints' defense all year, this is a remarkable performance. Despite surrendering over 300 yards of total offense, the Saints corralled the Seahawks offense, holding Russell Wilson to a 74.8 passer rating and a grand total of zero touchdown passes. Next week the Saints' defense will have a chance to prove that yesterday's act was no fluke when they travel to San Francisco to face another offensively-challenged football team.
History Repeating Itself?
I told you last week that the past two years, the Saints have started 2-4, battled back to 4-4 only to limp to a 7-9 record. With the win against Seattle, New Orleans now at 3-4 has a gigantic chance to get back to .500 next week at San Francisco. After that, a home game against the Denver Broncos followed by a road trip to Carolina figure to be quite a challenge. But you can't get to 5-4 before going 4-4, so here's to the Saints taking care of the business at hand by beating the 49ers next weekend. Who Dat!!!