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What We Learned: 2017 Saints a dish best served away

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Despite being 6-1 at home, the Saints are a much better road team and I’ll tell you why.

NFL: New York Jets at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

A win, is a win, is a win.

I get that wholeheartedly, however the statement below by Saints head coach Sean Payton has become far too common place this year.

“We did a lot of things that keep you from winning games, and will keep us from winning when we play better competition”. - Sean Payton

Deuce Windham sent me a text Sunday afternoon saying the crowd at the Superdome was meh.

I wasn’t surprised.

It’s hard for a crowd to stay into it when the offense stalls frequently (19th in 3rd down conversions), penalties interrupt momentum consistently (8th in penalty yards with 894), or when the defense gets gashed for huge running plays (tied for 4th in 20+ yard runs & tied for 4th in 40+ Yard runs) that suck the wind right out of stadium.

Despite the fact the Saints are 6-1 at home, I still don’t sense the same ‘Dome Field’ advantage the team had back when the offense was more of a downfield attack

In fact, outside of the running game and distributing the ball to the RBs and Michael Thomas, the offense as a whole has been disjointed and slightly less disciplined and crisp in year;s past overall.

An easy explanation for that is that Drew Brees has a lot of first and second year players around him or guys new to the system entirely. You’ve got to think that by the time 2011 hit, Brees had clocked nearly 4-5 years of time with the majority of his receiving group.

Currently, the offense is still growing around him, and for a guy like Brees that can be a detriment, especially if you are a precise person that’s expecting one thing and guys do another.

Alas, here’s what they do have working for them.

We’ve seen a lot of this from Mark Ingram.

Oodles of this from Alvin Kamara.

A ton of this from the defense.

With a QB who can still bring you back in games like this.

While having this guy as a go-to in critical situations.

It should be easy to see unless you’re a pirate or Sagat, that this team is perfect for coming into your house, taking your cookies, taking your crowd out of it, relieving you of your soul like Shang Tsung via the running game, and then taking home a W and celebrating on the plane ride back to New Orleans.

The brand of football the Saints are currently built to play is boring. The offense isn’t high flying and slinging it everywhere and stalls too much. And with them performing rather lethargically, so does the crowd. Meanwhile, the defense doesn’t have a speed edge rusher (closer) that can take full advantage of the “fan impact play” opportunities as they are called in the Dome.

If the Saints finish out the right way and have to play the Panthers at home for a third time, then I’m cool with that because they typically show up for division games. However, I’m perfectly okay with them setting up shop in other team’s houses for the duration of the playoffs beyond that point.

I just feel more confident in the coaching staff playing to their strengths in away games like the Buffalo win, which is the best example of who they can be on the road and overall as a team.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Al-Quadin Muhammad saw a significant number of snaps and was outperformed by new Saints DE George Johnson. Now you know why he’s been inactive.
  • Did you notice Hau’oli Kikaha playing SAM linebacker? We discussed how you’d increase his snaps without exposing him to injury, and asking him to play off-ball on base downs was the solution.
  • I don’t care what tier of WR you put Michael Thomas in, according to his stats he’s a top 10 guy at the position.
  • Willie Snead hoped this would be his week to get his number called more. It didn’t happen and it’s time to start thinking it won’t happen this season.
  • Cameron Jordan deserves 1st Team All-Pro and some votes for Defensive Player of the Year. It’s not even a discussion. For years he’s always been considered a notch below J.J. Watt, but the last 3 years he’s closed that gap considerably.
  • Kamara returned and made an impact, but I did feel like they toned down his usage to save him for the Falcons.
  • I’m starting to be confident in Tommylee Lewis returning punts and kicks. I noticed I wasn’t expecting the ball to be dropped the last two weeks. That’s a good sign.

I didn’t go into details on the win over the Jets because it wasn’t impressive. It was sloppy, and after games like that I tend to focus on the things that could have made it a loss. If they have a repeat of that game versus the Falcons, they will lose again. Without question, if Bryce Petty was a better QB and the Jets could take advantage of those turnovers, that’s a loss. It’s a fact that we are who we are at this point in the season and some of the issues can’t be fixed long term but if we are to avoid being swept by the Falcons they’ll need to be patched...Pronto!