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1 Up and 3 Downs from the Saints MNF loss to the Raiders

Penalties, defense, killed the Saints in the first NFL game in Las Vegas

New Orleans Saints v Las Vegas Raiders
Alvin Kamara had 174 yards total in the Saints loss.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints losing to inferior teams? Is it January already? Let’s hope the Saints got their screw ups out of their system on Monday night , because if Sean Payton’s team keeps playing like they did against the Las Vegas Raiders, there might not be a January, and if the Saints do make it that far, it won’t be for long.

Michael Thomas, last year’s league leading receiver in targets, yards and receptions, missed the game with a high-ankle sprain. There’s no doubting his importance to the team, but it would be naive to blame the loss purely on his absence. After all, a lot would have to go wrong to lose to the Raiders.

Down: Penalties

There’s no one stat that sums up all that went wrong in the loss but the one stat that does the most justice in explaining the loss was the penalties. 10 penalties for 129 yards. A horrible stat line in general, but even worse when compared to that of the Raiders (3 for 13), and even more horrifying considering it’s worse than last week’s six penalties for 119 yards against Tampa Bay.

All night, the Saints penalties kept the Raiders drives alive. The Raiders had five first downs from penalties. Unlike last week, the Saints were diverse in their penalty calls. The Saints had holding calls, neutral zone infractions, offensive and defensive pass interference, illegal blocks, roughing the passer and horse caller flags. In short form, they had a bunch of flags. At one point in the third, the Saints were flagged three times in four drives leaving us at a 2nd and 31.

Most notable flag was the defensive pass interference call on 3rd and 5 when Janoris Jenkins hooked arms with Henry Ruggs on a basically uncatchable ball. The penalty cost the Saints a stop, 29 yards, and put the Raiders in field goal territory up 7 with just over two minutes left to play.

Going forward these penalties need to be addressed, especially the DPIs, because they will cost the Saints more losses if it persists.

Down: Drew Brees

On paper, Drew Brees looked okay throwing for 312 yards a touchdown and in interception. In reality it was a painful performance to watch as every throw over 5 yards was a glaring reminder that Brees is 41. Brees missed throws he should have made, and his usual surgical precision self was nowhere to be found with 12 of his throws going incomplete. He was outperformed by Raiders quarterback Derek Carr which is really, really sad to say. The long ball is not looking good for Brees, and the interception he threw was very much under thrown. Hopefully, Michael Thomas returns next week because Brees is gonna need all the help he’s gonna get.

Up: Alvin Kamara

Big money Alvin Kamara had another game living up to his contract, and frankly, he was the only upside from the game. Kamara had a great running game, rushing for 79 yards on 13 carries, reaching the end zone twice. Kamara averaged 6.1 yards per carry which prompts the question, why wasn’t he given more touches? Kamara also made Drew Brees look sort of good, catching nine receptions for 95 yards, averaging nearly 10.6 a reception, for a total of 174 all-purpose yards.

Down: Defensive Backfield

Two big defensive pass interferences on Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins were big enough blunders to explain a poor performance by the Saints’s backfield but there’s far more to say. Malcolm Jenkins was getting burned all night, and Derek Carr and the Raiders had a field day. The Saints were torched by Darren Waller, who caught 12 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. Derek Carr threw the ball deep at will, targeting 11 receivers for 282 yards and 3 touchdowns. If this Saints secondary is as good as they say they are, they need to lock up on defense going forward and use this loss as a lesson.

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