Good morning Y’all
As always, for our novice readers or non-New Orleanians, welcome!
Let’s start with some definitions:
Beignets (English: /bɛnˈjeɪ/; French: [bɛɲɛ], ben-YAY literally bump) are distinctly New Orleans, a delicacy intimately connected to the city’s rich French heritage. Best enjoyed heavily powdered with sugar.
This is your “After-Saints-Game” breakfast, where we talk about the state of the Black and Gold, we debate the goings-on in the NFC South, and paint the playoff picture in the NFC up to this point of the season. So, sit back, take a bite and a sip while your brain slowly wakes up, and let’s catch up on some football.
What Just Happened?
Think about this: any young Saints fan that is, let’s say 13 years old, knows nothing of the real struggle that it used to be rooting for the Black and Gold. So yesterday, with the Saints defeating the Bucs 31-24 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, we all witnessed we had never seen before in New Orleans’ franchise history: The New Orleans Saints have started two consecutive seasons with 4-1 records. For the first time, ever. How incredible is that? The Sean Payton era in New Orleans keeps establishing new records, resetting expectations, and on Sunday, with the way Teddy Bridgewater performed, it showed everyone that there can actually be a life after Drew Brees in New Orleans.
Speaking of life after Drew Brees: I hope with all my heart that Drew’s thumb heals as fast as possible, that he comes back to a Saints team that is 7-1 or 6-2. And I hope that following his return, the Saints go on to win Superbowl LIV next February in Miami, 10 years after their first championship. But on Sunday, against a stout Tampa Bay defense, the Teddy Bridgewater-led New Orleans Saints piled up 457 non-garbage yards on the Bucs, with Bridgewater throwing four touchdown passes and looking more and more in command of the huddle. New Orleans is now 3-0 since Brees’ injury and looks like on of the most complete teams in the entire NFL.
Five Numbers...That Don’t Lie
· 11: The number of receptions by Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas yesterday against the Buccaneers. Targeted 13 times, Thomas had 182 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Is Michael Thomas a good receiver? Yes! Is he a great receiver? Yes! But, is he an elite receiver and one of the very best in the league? You bet he is! He was worth absolutely every penny the Saints paid him this offseason and is basically THE one receiving threat that every opposing defense focuses on in the Saints passing game, and yet he still produces at a ridiculous level.
· 6: The number of sacks by the Saints yesterday afternoon against Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers. It was the second time this season that New Orleans had six sacks in a game (six sacks of Houston’s Deshaun Watson in week one). What was most rewarding about yesterday’s performance, was seeing defensive end Marcus Davenport (2) and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (1) enjoy the sack party: Rankins, coming off an Achilles tendon injury, is quickly getting back into the groove, while Davenport now has three sacks on the season and showed the rushing power that made the Saints trade up to select him in the 2018 NFL draft. The three other sacks of the day were recorded by Cam Jordan (1), Carl Granderson Jr. (1) and Malcolm Brown (1).
· 1. The number of receiving touchdowns by tight end Jared Cook as a Saint. Let’s face it, Cook has had an underwhelming debut in New Orleans, coming off a great 2018 season with the Oakland Raiders (68 receptions, 896 yards, 6 touchdowns). Yesterday was encouraging, as Cook not only recorded 4 catches and his first touchdown in the black and gold uniform, he looked engaged and showed some emotion during the game. Hopefully a sign of good things to come.
· 0: The number of sacks by the Bucs yesterday against the Saints. This number is significant because Tampa Bay came into the game with the NFL sack leader in outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (9). Even more impressive, a Buccaneers defensive line anchored by Ndamukong Suh and William Gholston, a unit that harassed Jared Goff in Los Angeles last week, was completely stymied by the Saints offensive line. Give New Orleans Big Uglies some kudos for this performance.
· 0: The number of receptions by Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans during yesterday’s game. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore locked down Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper last Sunday, holding Cooper to a measly five catches for 48 yards and no touchdowns. After that game, I stated that I expected Lattimore to show the same type of intensity against Mike Evans, a receiver with whom Lattimore has a bit of history. Guarded primarily by Lattimore, Evans was targeted only three times and did not secure any of the passes thrown his way. Slowly but surely, Marshon Lattimore is rediscovering his shutdown corner mojo of 2017, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
Beignets and Café au Lait Awards
· Fresh Beignets with Hot Coffee: Dennis Allen. I rarely compliment coaches for the job they do. It is quite understandable: players play, they are in the limelight and make all the flashy plays, thus they get most of the recognition. Let’s change that a bit: After Drew Brees went down, we knew that the Saints’ offense would struggle a bit to match its pre-Brees production. What we didn’t know was whether the Saints’ defense would be able to help its diminished counterpart. And boy, did they ever. Allen’s men stymied the Seahawks in Seattle (minus some Russell Wilson garbage time scoring). They then proceeded to smother the Cowboys last Sunday night, holding Dallas to 10 points. And yesterday afternoon, they made life miserable for Jameis Winston all game long. Unsurprisingly, the Saints are 3-0 in the past three games and Dennis Allen deserves a lot of credit for being at the head of a defensive unit that has stepped up big time when the team most needed it to.
· More Fresh Beignets with Tasty Coffee: Teddy Bridgewater. We’ve all heard it: Teddy needs to be more decisive. Teddy is going to cost the Saints a game. “Check-down Teddy” won’t throw downfield. To be fair to all the impatient Who-Dats around the nation, me included, after stepping in for Drew Brees, Bridgewater had been pedestrian, to say the least. And although it is understandable, for a player that hadn’t started a meaningful NFL game since the 2015 season, we all wanted him to look like Drew Brees from day one. Well on Sunday against Tampa Bay, Teddy sure looked like Drew: Bridgewater threw four touchdown passes, had 314 yards passing and…gasp: threw the ball farther than 10 yards a pop! Here’s to Bridgewater continuing his improvement at the helm of the Saints’ offense, because the longer he continues help the team win, the longer the Saints can afford to let Drew Brees fully heal while the team remains atop the NFC standings.
· The Saints will play the inconsistent but dangerous Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) in Jacksonville on Sunday at 12:00 CT. The Jags, led by new NFL sensation rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew (aka “The Jockstrap King”) are coming off a hard-fought 34-27 loss against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. They boast a strong defense and a stout running back in Leonard Fournette that should be familiar with the LSU contingent of Saints fans. The Jags are no pushover, but they are a beatable team. We could see the Saints revert to the “Seattle Gameplan” in this one, with Bridgewater dinking-and-dunking his way down the field and the Saints playing keep-away and great defense. Before you start complaining, remember though: there are no style points in the NFL, the only thing that matters is the scoreboard.
Following their win against Tampa Bay yesterday, according to fivethirthyeight.com, the Saints remain in third place as far as odds of winning the Super Bowl at 11%, behind only the Pats (24%) and the Chiefs (16%). Rounding out the top five are the Packers (6%) and the Rams (5%). New Orleans has the best odds to win the NFC South at 73%, followed by the Panthers (18%), Buccaneers (6%) and Falcons (3%).
Hey, how come you’re still here? Get some work done! Unless you’re still drunk from celebrating yesterday’s devouring of “Crab Leg” Winston, in which case, carry on.
With games against the Jags, Bears and Cardinals on deck, what will the Saints record be going into the bye?
This poll is closed
7-1 baby! Championship!
6-2. I think they’ll lose in Chicago, but win the other two
5-3. They will drop one game they’re not supposed to
4-4. I don’t like puppies and apple pie sucks
As long as I eat 10 burgers a game, they’ll keep winning