1. What A Defensive Effort!
Just a week after surrendering 486 total yards to the Oakland Raiders, the Saints' defense gave up over 400 total yards again (432) to the New York Giants. Although that isn't stellar, consider that only 64 of those yards came via the run (in contrast with 167 given up to the Raiders a week ago) and the Saints allowed only 16 points, compared to 35 points last week. Moreover, the Saints forced three fumbles yesterday and recovered all of them. The Achilles heel for the Black and Gold defense remains the pass rush. On Sunday, the Saints sacked Eli Manning twice on back-to-back plays near the end of the first half, but they couldn't get close to Manning for the rest of the game. With the number of elite passers left on the Saints' schedule, this lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks is simply not going to cut it. - Grade: Awesome.
2. That...Was Offensive
The Saints under Sean Payton/Drew Brees are known for their explosive offense. On Sunday they were just offensive. The team finished the game 3 for 13 on third down (23%). They tallied only 41 yards rushing, on a measly 13 attempts. Brees like Manning. was sacked only twice, but he was far from accurate, completing 29 of 44 attempts, and recording a fairly low 89.5 quarterback rating. But the truly maddening stat is that the Saints' defense gave the ball back to its offense three times via a turnover and the offense scored exactly zero points off those turnovers. The narrative that the Saints' offense is a shell of itself on the road as opposed to the well-oiled machine that they are at home is alive and well. - Grade: Awful.
3. It's Time to Use the D Word
For the first time since Sean Payton joined the Saints as the team's head coach, New Orleans has started the season 0-2 in three consecutive years. The decline of the Saints franchise since getting to the playoffs in 2013 is now an undeniable reality. Payton has the coaching acumen and the talent at quarterback to remain mediocre for the foreseeable future, but this is not what the expectations should be in a city that has now tasted a Super Bowl win. My great fear is that the Saints fanbase (and God forbid, the organization's front office itself) will soon start accepting 7-9 and 8-8 records as being okay. If that happens, it won't just be a decline, it'll be a downfall that will eventually lead to the verified death of the greatest era of Saints football. - Grade: Awful.
4. The Fleener Catch Watch
My absolute favorite tight end in a Saints uniform continues to shine. This Sunday, high-prized free agent acquisition Coby Fleener was targeted eight times by Brees. The tight end caught only two passes for 29 yards. Hey, baby steps! A week ago, Fleener only had a single reception for six yards, so things could be worse. So far this year, Fleener has three receptions for 35 yards, so he's on pace for 24 receptions for 280 yards and zero touchdowns this season. Remain calm, these are just projections. - Grade: On Hold.
5. It's Falcons Hate Week
The Saints may be 0-2, but next Monday night, they're playing the Atlanta Falcons (1-1) in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. What could be better to cure all that ails the Saints than to come out and crush the slim Falcons' hopes of a successful season? Of course, those stupid Oakland Raiders who came here and beat us in week one then proceeded to lay a giant egg in their black hole while facing the Dirty Birds yesterday. But who cares? We don't need no stinky, one-eyed pirates to do the dirty job for us. We'll pluck the birds ourselves and roast them for dinner. What do you mean the tone of this paragraph is different from the other ones? Of course it is, it's Falcons Hate Week, pull no punches! Who Dat!!! - Grade: Awesome.