Alvin Kamara was right.
This has never happened in the Ups and Downs series, but for the second week in a row, we don’t have any big “Downs” to go over from the game. There were plenty of “Ups.” Here are a few that stood out:
Up: Tre’Quan Smith
The Saints haven’t felt comfortable with their group of wide receivers not named “Michael Thomas” after Ted Ginn Jr was placed on IR. That led to the Saints signing Dez Bryant, and eventually Brandon Marshall after Bryant was injured before his first game.
With Marshall inactive, rookie Tre’Quan Smith was asked to step up. Tre’Quan did more than just “step up,” as he finished the game with a career night: catching 10 of 13 targets for 157 yards and a TD.
Ted Ginn is coming back soon. Brandon Marshall could see the field as early as Thursday. Keith Kirkwood has looked great in his first two games. The Saints wide receiver room could move from a weakness to a strength sooner rather than later.
Up: Mark Ingram
“Angry Mark” punched it into the end zone twice, rushing for 103 yards. You can just see how this Saints offense can find another gear with Ingram joining Kamara in the New Orleans backfield.
Up: Marshon Lattimore
Marshon Lattimore finally is starting to look like the defending Defensive Rookie of the Year.
He’s made small strides all season, finally taking two big steps the last two weeks. Lattimore was rarely targeted against the Bengals, and carried that same Island-mentality to the game against the Eagles.
Lattimore’s strong play and series of near-picks finally paid off with an interception on an under-thrown pass by Carson Wentz.
If Lattimore is able to start playing like his 2017 self, watch out.
Up: Third Down Defense
There are so many solid options for a fourth “Up” this week.
Taysom Hill called an audible at the line of scrimmage and changed the play to a tight end screen that went for a first down. Eli Apple has started to come in to his own in the New Orleans secondary after the trade with the Giants. Jermon Bushrod played admirably standing in the injured Terron Armstead, especially considering his off-the-field circumstances. Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Wil Lutz were all great as per usual, and Sean Payton called a great game.
But instead, let’s go with the Saints defense as a whole.
Coming into Week 11, the Saints were allowing first downs on 40% of third downs against them. They were able to hold the Eagles offense to only 30% last week, and keeping the Eagles oh-for on fourth down, taking a big step forward.