The New Orleans Saints enter their bye week at the halfway point of the 2019 regular season. They have a 7-1 record and sit on top of the NFC South. The Saints have won six straight games. Five of those without quarterback Drew Brees, who was sidelined with an injured thumb suffered in a week two loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
The New Orleans offense has continued to produce even without their Hall of Fame signal caller though, making big plays at crucial times to control the football. They've not only had to do it without Brees, but have been missing other offensive stars as well.
Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara started off the year extremely well. Kamara is one of the most versatile weapons in the NFL, and had 649 offensive yards in the year's first six games before missing the final two with a high ankle sprain. Tight end Jared Cook has also been out the last two contests with an ankle injury, just as the offseason acquisition had gotten himself well integrated in the team's offense. Second year wideout Tre'Quan Smith, who started the season with encouraging signs, has been sidelined the last five games. New Orleans expects all three players back after the bye week, and returned Brees to the lineup in last Sunday's win over the Arizona Cardinals. The Saints have benefited from top performances despite being shorthanded, allowing their offense to continue operating at a winning level.
Michael Thomas, WR
Thomas leads the NFL with 73 receptions for 875 yards at the halfway mark, scoring 4 touchdowns. He has at least five catches in his last 13 games and is not only re-writing the franchise record books, but setting new NFL marks for a receiver's productivity in their first four seasons. The 26-yr. old Thomas has 10 or more receptions and over 100 yards in four games this season. He has continued to be productive even though defensive coverages are designed specifically to try to stop him, especially with other top receiving options in Kamara or Cook hobbled. Thomas is perhaps the most precise route runner in the game today, overwhelms defensive backs with his physicality and underrated athleticism, and makes the tough catch in traffic look almost routine. He seems well on his way to another career year, with numbers that should also put him in the conversation for league M.V.P.
Armstead's value has been known throughout league circles for awhile. This has certainly been apparent with the Saints when he's missed games with injuries, as he had in 21 contests over the previous three seasons. Armstead hasn't missed a game this year (Saints fans knock on wood), and is a vital part of probably the best offensive line in the league. Armstead holds down the all-important left tackle spot, and has been both a powerful run blocker and dominant pass protector. As good as Armstead has been, his bookend at the other tackle spot may be even more impressive so far in 2019.
This third year right tackle has been a virtual wall in pass protection and bulldozer as a run blocker. He is often able to take on opposing linemen one one one, all but eliminating them as factors in a game. Houston's J.J. Watt, Tampa Bay's Shaquil Barrett, and Chicago's Khalil Mack are just a few of the NFL's best pass rushers that have disappeared when going up against Ramczyk. The 25-yr. old has become a star, and finally recognized as one of the best offensive linemen in the game. Ramczyk and Armstead combine to form the NFL's best offensive tackle duo.
Bridgewater has completed nearly 68% of his passes while throwing for 1,370 yards with 9 touchdown passes and just 2 interceptions during his 5 1/2 games in relief of Brees. More important than the statistics, the sixth year quarterback has taken care of the ball and made smart decisions. He was at his sharpest during his offense's first drives in the second half, often allowing New Orleans to take full control of games. His 5-0 record during Brees' absence surprised many, allowing the Saints to grab control of the NFC South standings and position themselves for a playoff berth down the stretch. The 26-yr. old Bridgewater's recovery from a devastating knee injury three years ago is an inspirational story, but the bigger story has been his accomplishments on the field. His performance has removed whatever doubts remained about his ability to be an NFL starting quarterback.
Who has been the Saints offensive M.V.P. through the first half of the 2019 season?
This poll is closed