"In the past, there's been very little room for error," Brees said. "While it's frustrating that I don't think we're playing anywhere near our best football, we're still finding ways to win. And winning in different ways. Different strategies depending on the opponent, the flow of the game, and making those adjustments accordingly. That is something that I'm pleased with because the results have been wins." - Drew Brees
So, this is what it looks like when a team’s identity is built around its defense and it’s the offense’s job not to screw it up!
Despite two Mark Ingram fumbles, Drew Brees not throwing a single TD, and a 3rd down success rate of a meager 22% the New Orleans Saints were still able to pull out a win in the Dome. This would have NEVER been possible three seasons ago as this is the type of team we said Payton was incapable of building and yet here it is – A balanced methodical offense that compliments an opportunistic and stingy defense.
Sean Payton can still call a game offensively and Brees can still execute, but you can tell that the personality of this team is to control the clock and get big plays from the D.
Meanwhile, Brees is doing his best Steve Nash impersonation and playing the role of PG on offense, getting the ball to Kamara, Ingram, and Thomas. It also doesn’t hurt that he now has a RB tandem to lean on that has generated 150+ yards from scrimmage for the second consecutive week.
Let’s take a look at a few talking points from Week 8’s game vs. the Bears, as the Saints keep finding ways to win.
The secondary came up with the name, and it was Marshon Lattimore, a member of the aforementioned group, that came up with the theft on a game sealing INT. Best thing about this entire performance is that they dropped roughly three others. Lattimore, Klein, and Crawley had one each that slipped through their hands suggesting that Dennis Allen continues to put these guys in position to make plays. On the flip end, I think the one weakness on this D we’ll have to live with is getting gashed for big plays in the running game. Want the raw numbers? Saints Defense is Ranked 30th in YPC (4.9), T-31st in runs of 20+ Yds (9), and T-31st in runs of 40+ Yds (3). With that being said, they are doing other things well that have helped balance that out and forcing seven turnovers like the one below in the last four games is one of them.
Don’t Pile on Ingram
Ok, I get it, he fumbled twice and it almost cost us. However, context is important. His first fumble was all on him. Ingram is a fighter, and there are times when he needs to comprehend the situation and get down. He will scratch and claw for every yard, but against opportunistic teams it can prove costly when he’s stood up. His second fumble was just great individual effort as the player (Amos) never even went for the ball, just the strip. Ingram had both hands on the ball and yet defensive players are payed to make plays too. Credit the defender with a good one there. It was his first ever two-turnover game so this isn’t something that happens often. He’ll shake back, try not to put the steering wheel in his back and drive him too much.
Have you seen this guy?
The Saints are sorely missing a Y/Slot option in their passing game. Half of that is Willie Snead, and at this point I’m done trying to figure out when he’ll get worked in. It’ll happen at some point in the season, but what isn’t suddenly going to fix itself is the void at TE and the disappearance of Coby Fleener. No, the Saints won’t be trading for Jimmy Graham, as they don’t have the cap space to make the move, but there just doesn’t seem to be a consistent option in the middle of the field and it has caused the offense to look awful on 3rd downs this year with only a 38% success rate. Coby Fleener has been completely phased out and people will argue that they aren’t asking much of him because of better players around him, I’ll counter that by saying that aren’t asking much out of him because he isn’t capable of it.
- Offense continues to look sloppy overall in execution. Lots of illegal shift penalties and false starts. Uncharacteristic of a Sean Payton O this late in the season.
- That 56-yard punt that lands at the 5 was clutch by Thomas Morstead
- Marshon Lattimore is starting to show up in zone coverage now for the second straight game.
- Tyeler Davison, David Onyemata, and Sheldon Rankins are playing very well on the interior of the dline. They aren’t showing up on the stat sheet much, but they are disrupting things up front consistently.
- Klein has 4 dropped INTs on the Season and he’s left a bunch of plays on the field. Yet, he seems to be a feast or famine guy as he’s made his share of pivotal plays as well.
- Majority of the chunk plays on offense came in the passing game believe it or not and that’s exactly where I said they would have to come from vs. a stingy Bears front 7.
- Jordan, Lattimore, and Vaccaro are the lynchpins of that defense. Those have been your top 3 playmakers with all delivering big plays/games in various ways through this 5-game win streak.
- Vonn Bell is inconsistent. Really starting to feel like if Breaux returns and is the same Breaux as he was his rookie year he’ll steal away some snaps from Bell.
- Saints Defense in now 7th in the League as it pertains to opposing QB Rating (79.3).
I’m going to have to agree with Drew when he says this team isn’t playing their best ball yet. When both teams improve on their 3rd down % you’ll see a more complete team start to form. For now it appears as though they know what they do well and they’ve found a winning formula. New Orleans is playing complimentary football and for the 1st time the Offense is the complimentary piece to the Defense. Drop your comments below and I’ll see you Tuesday on the Who Dat Confessionals as we continue to dwell in the Saints 5 game win streak. Enjoy your week folks - Who Dat!!