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What we learned in the Saints loss to the Patriots is quite a lot

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It was another long day in the NFL for Saints fans, as we take a look at a few things that stood out in the team’s loss to the Patriots.

NFL: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints offense just flows better with Mark Ingram in the game.

There. I said it, and as much as Saints fans have disliked this kid dating back to his rookie year, he is now one of the “play makers” on an offense searching for one.

For the second week in a row, the Saints offense was up and down. And for the second week in a row, the defense was atrocious. Most people will scream coaching, but I personally see guys in position that are unable to make a play (A.J. Klein), guys not having their heads in the game (Manti Te’o), guys being undisciplined (Kenny Vaccaro), or guys just flat out dropping passes (Ted Ginn Jr.). That’s talent issues, and said talent or lack thereof has a heavy focus in today’s piece.

Marshon Lattimore is Legit

NFL: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The young cover CB terrorized Brandin Cooks for much of the game before leaving with injury (concussion). Depending on who you want to fault on a score given up in zone coverage, his play versus Cooks for the most part was superb. So much so that at one point, a visibly frustrated Cooks proceeded to partake in some extra curricular shoving with Lattimore after a run play. Most people can agree that Cooks is a pretty good WR, so to see Lattimore shut him down in that manner has to be a positive thing going forward. How much they’ll build off this I’m not sure, but having a CB that can shadow a teams best WR gives the defense options.

Who Killed Kenny?

NFL: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Besides a slight assist from Gronk, it was mostly self-inflicted wounds as Kenny Vaccaro shot himself in the foot and every other appendage repeatedly. Whether it was being overaggressive in man coverage, or overaggressive in zone coverage - Vaccaro proved he’s part of the problem and not the solution. Maybe it’s too early to say his days are numbered in a Saints uniform, but being benched at this stage in his career is a bad omen for the young SS out of Texas. Vonn Bell isn’t a great option behind him, but you might as well allow him to take his lumps with the rest of the “under 25” squad on the Saints defense.

All Day looks more like Mid Day

NFL: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The AP or AD as you know him is no more. The jump-cut is there. The agility is there as is the vision, but the burst is non-existent. There was a pitch play that he converted for a first down (barely) in which he struggled to get to the edge on what can only be assumed was a well-blocked play. After looking as though he was running in sludge, Peterson was finally able to turn the corner and stretch for the marker with only inches to spare. That same play, with Ingram in, is a 1st and about 2-3 extra yards or more. The quicker Sean Payton relegates Peterson to a clean up role and features Ingram with some Alvin Kamara mixed in, the better the offense will roll.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Rookie woes continue as Alex Anzalone, Marcus Williams, Ryan Ramcyzk, and Kamara all accounted for some type of mishap. Growing pains indeed.
  • I’m concerned that the Saints haven’t been able to run the ball behind free agent acquisition Larry Warford. How a man that size can’t generate movement in the run game baffles me.
  • A.J. Klein dropped a pick, Sheldon Rankins failed to sack Brady on a TD play, Hau’oli Kikaha disappeared after his sack, and Manti Te’o couldn’t get off the field. Guys that we are expecting to make plays simply aren’t getting it done.
  • The offensive lineup of Andrus Peat, Senio Kelemete Max, Unger, Warford, Ramczyk seemed to give Drew Brees more time in the passing game, but couldn’t get much of anything going in the run game. They need to be challenged to get it done versus the Panthers.
  • Willie Snead being out is causing Ted Ginn to be relied on a little more than necessary, and you are seeing how his untimely drops can affect the offense. He’s not someone you should throw to when you need a 3rd down, and yet that’s the role he’s playing at times.
  • Tony Romo mentioned how many different looks the Saints were giving in coverage on defense while simultaneously pointing out the mental gaffes that resulted. Why we are trying to be a “game plan” defense versus a “this is what we do well” (beat us) defense I’m not sure but the less thinking these guys are asked to do the better.

Not much went right for the Saints on Sunday, and while I could make an extensive list of what those things are, I’d much rather prefer to move on to next week versus the Panthers. The team can still manage 2-2 at the end of this four-game stretch, but to get there they will need to figure out who their play makers are on both sides of the field and start to craft game plans around them and what they do well to help get some wins.

Was I too positive? Did I miss anything? Let me know below and add some extra tidbits that I failed to mention.