The New Orleans Saints 2019-20 season crashed to a halt on Sunday when they were upset by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the NFC Playoffs. Even though they fell short of expectations, the Saints still had a magnificent regular season. They finished 13-3, won the NFC South for the third consecutive season (a franchise first), and were one of the NFL's most dominant teams through much of the year. The New Orleans offense was their usual productive self, attacking defenses with one of the league's most balanced units. The Saints averaged 28.6 points per game in 2019, 3rd best in the NFL. They scored more than 30 points a league-high eleven times, hitting the mark in six of their last seven regular season contests.
Some believed that the Saints would struggle when future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees injured his thumb in Week Two. The offense barely missed a beat behind Teddy Bridgewater, who threw 9 touchdowns and averaged 244 yards per game while winning all five of his starts. Brees was as sharp as he's ever been upon his return. The legendary signal caller averaged 298 yards/game in the ten full games he played while throwing 27 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions while nearly breaking his own record for completion percentage in a season. Brees would grab another hallowed NFL record along the way, passing Peyton Manning into first place as the league's all-time leader in passing touchdowns.
The two star quarterbacks had plenty of help. The Saints possessed a productive duo at running back with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray, along with a dominating offensive line that bludgeoned opposing defenses. Here are our offensive game balls for the New Orleans Saints in a memorable 2019 season.
(HONORABLE MENTION = Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Terron Armstead)
Jared Cook, tight end
Cook was signed by the Saints to a lucrative free agent deal this offseason. After a slow start that saw him average just 28 yards per game receiving in his first six outings, Cook caught fire over the last half of the year. Over his last nine games, including playoffs, Cook hauled in 33 receptions for 591 yards and 7 touchdowns. He was one of the most productive tight ends in the league down the stretch, giving New Orleans a much-needed receiving threat to compliment their record-breaking wideout and versatile running back Alvin Kamara. Cook's size and athleticism were a matchup nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs alike, making him nearly unstoppable down the seam. He finished his first season in New Orleans with 43 receptions for 705 yards and 9 touchdowns despite the slow start and missing three games with injury, giving a powerful Saints offense a gamebreaking threat at the tight end position.
Taysom Hill, everything
Hill, who is listed as a quarterback but is a Jack-of-all-trades weapon, was already a cult hero among Saints fans entering the 2019 season. He has blossomed into a legitimate offensive threat at multiple positions for Coach Sean Payton's squad. Mostly utilized as a runner his first two years in the league, Hill worked hard and also became a receiving threat. He caught 19 passes for 234 yards and 6 touchdowns during the regular season, adding another score in the playoffs. Fifteen of Hill's receptions resulted in either a first down or touchdown, as he clearly earned the trust of his quarterbacks in even the biggest moments.
Hill also picked up 156 yards and a score as a runner, completed 3 of 6 passes for 55 yards, was an effective lead blocker, and continues to be one of the team's special teams aces. No longer looked at as a gadget player or trick play threat by defenses, Taysom Hill is now a bonafide offensive threat when he is on the field.
Ryan Ramczyk, offensive tackle
The 25-Yr old Ramczyk established himself as the best right tackle and one of the top offensive linemen in the game in 2019, earning his first All-Pro bid. Ramczyk, who was the highest graded tackle as both a run and pass blocker according to profootballfocus.com, became a cornerstone of the dominant New Orleans offensive line. Ramczyk's combination of power, athletic ability, and incredible technique was a perfect bookend to Armstead, giving New Orleans the best offensive tackle duo in the NFL. They silenced many of the league's best pass rushers, making them irrelevant and giving their quarterbacks a secure pass pocket along the edge. Ramczyk set the edge for the team's running backs, and was a devastating down field blocker on screen passes.
Michael Thomas, wide receiver
Michael Thomas had the most spectacular season of his incredible four year career in 2019, setting league records for production in a wideout's first four years. Thomas led the league with 149 receptions and 1,725 yards while scoring 9 touchdowns, breaking Marvin Harrison's league record for catches in a single season. He hauled in a jaw-dropping 80.5% of his targets, and 95 of his catches would result in either a score or a first down.
None of the other New Orleans wide receivers provided any kind of consistent threat, allowing opposing defenses to stack their coverages against the 6'3 212-Lb Thomas. Yet he'd continue to produce thanks to his rare blend of physicality, elite route running ability, incredible hands, and underrated athleticism. Despite the attention, Thomas had at least 70 yards receiving 14 times, with ten outings of over 100 yards. He caught at least five passes in 16 of 17 games this season and had over 10 receptions nine times. The 26-Yr old earned his second All-Pro honor after signing a record breaking contract extension during the offseason. He backed that up with one of the finest offensive seasons the NFL has ever seen, and left the feeling that we may have only seen the beginning of his exploits in what has already been an amazing career.
Who was your top performer for the 2019 Saints offense?
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