It wasn’t the start fans were hoping for, as the New Orleans Saints quickly climbed into a 0-1 hole after Sunday’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. The team allowed a 22-point 4th Quarter to Jack Del Rio’s squad, which included a gutsy 2-point conversion to Michael Crabtree in the final minute. The Saints tried to come back, but rookie Wil Lutz had his potential game-winning kick hook left.
Here are five winners and five losers from Sunday’s contest.
Drew Brees - Brees moved back into 3rd All-Time on the NFL’s passing touchdown list yesterday, as he was tied with New England’s Tom Brady (428) coming into the game. Brees overcame a sluggish start to deliver another memorable performance, despite a loss. He may just have to do that a lot more times with major questions around the defense.
The Saints offensive line - Let’s face it, this was the single most worry area for the Saints coming into this game. Jahri Evans looked like the player of old, Andrus Peat held his own, and Zach Strief didn’t get beat like we thought he would. The pass protection held up, and kept Drew Brees upright for the most part.
BMW - Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas, and Willie Snead were huge beneficiaries from another stellar outing by Drew Brees. This trio is very lethal, and could present some big problems for opposing secondaries. They finished out with 21 receptions (24 targets) for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Kenny Vaccaro - I saw a very determined player on the field with Vaccaro on Sunday. He had a lot of pep in his step, and played a very good game. It wasn’t a coincidence that he graded out as the highest defensive player from Pro Football Focus, as he finished with an 86.1 grade. He finished with 7 total tackles, a pass break up, and a QB hit.
Craig Robertson - Although he was guilty of a bogus pass interference call at the end of the game, Robertson played a strong game in place of Dannell Ellerbe. Robertson led the way with 11 total tackles. Two of his tackles went for a loss, and he also had a pass break up and QB hit.
The Saints pass rush - No matter what the Saints defense tried, they just couldn’t get after Derek Carr. There wasn’t much mention of Paul Kruger, Cameron Jordan, or Kasim Edebali, and that was a big problem. Dennis Allen’s squad only managed to hit Carr three times, and didn’t sack him once.
Delvin Breaux - Breaux was playing fairly well, but naturally he’s going to be lost for quite some time. It makes you wonder what the trainers were working on during the sidelines only to have him hurt himself further.
Ken Crawley - Trial by fire proved to be a bit much for the undrafted rookie on Sunday, as Pro Football Focus pointed out Derek Carr had a 143.8 passer rating on eight targets against Crawley. He also missed some tackles.
C.J. Spiller - Some mystery swirled from the Saints not activating Spiller on Sunday, and we were told he was completely healthy. Instead, we got a few drops from Travaris Cadet. This doesn’t seem that encouraging for a player who has clearly looked much better in the preseason.
Coby Fleener - It wasn’t the debut that Fleener wanted, as he was targeted four times on Sunday and only managed one reception for 6 yards. You can’t entirely place blame on Fleener, as the Saints lost Josh Hill to an ankle injury, and the Saints didn’t have Chris Manhertz in the lineup. Hopefully, Fleener can rebound.