Wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys would have been tough even with Drew Brees. Considering the New Orleans Saints were able to win those games back-to-back without Brees is absolutely incredible.
It was still a roller coast of a game, with plenty of “Ups” and “Downs” along the way, though. Here are a few that stood out:
Let’s get this one out of the way early.
The entire defense deserves a huge “Up” for their performance Sunday night. Against the previously undefeated Cowboys, Dennis Allen and the Saints defense was able to hold Dak Prescott, Ezkiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper to 10 points.
The Saints defense generated three turnovers, held Zeke to only 35 rushing yards, held Amari Cooper to only 48 receiving yards, and hit Prescott all night long.
An overall outstanding performance by the Saints defense.
Down: Offensive Line
The offensive line had its worst overall game in recent memory.
The talented Saints offensive line gave up five sacks (granted, a couple were on Teddy Bridgewater for holding onto the ball too long) and was guilty of numerous holding penalties which killed drivers before they started. Away from the noise in Seattle and back in the Dome in New Orleans, they were even guilty of a false start, which is completely unacceptable when you know you have Teddy Bridgewater - and not Drew Brees - under center.
Terron Armstead repeatedly got beat. Erik McCoy had moments where he looked like rookie. Larry Warford struggled on his side. Andrus Peat looked gassed. It was only Ryan Ramczyk whose name wasn’t repeatedly called on the broadcast.
They will need to step up against Tampa.
Up: Michael Thomas
It won’t show up in the box score, but in the same way Alvin Kamara carried the Saints offense last week against Seattle, it was Michael Thomas who proved his worth to the Saints offense last night.
Thomas finished the game with “only” 95 yards, but considering that was almost half of Teddy Bridgewater’s passing total, it’s significant. He proved to be a reliable and consistent option in critical situations, hauling in all nine of his targets, routinely getting enough separation for Teddy Bridgewater to get him the ball.
There’s a reason the Saints paid him this offseason.
Down: Teddy Bridgewater
I might get a fair amount of flack of saying this, but Teddy deserves the game’s final “down.” Yes, I know he didn’t get a lot of help around him with drops and penalties. It’s hard to be critical considering we won the game, but he just didn’t pass the eye test this week. Maybe I’m spoiled from having watched Drew Brees under center for so long, but Bridgewater will need to play better in the next few games.
He held on to the ball too long and took critical sacks. He hesitated to attack down field and his pump-fakes seemed more like moments of being indecisive rather than attempting to confuse the defense. The two balls he threw for considerable distance both sailed high, and even his intermediate throws to open receivers were unnecessarily high (but Josh Hill should’ve caught that one...).
We can’t count on the defense consistently holding opponents to ten points. The Saints are going to need to Teddy to held lead the offense into the end zone if we want any chance of beating the Buccaneers and Jaguars moving forward.