“Someone said: “numbers never lie.” And that was a lie, because sometimes numbers lie. But they don’t lie all the time, and that’s the truth.”
This is the fun part of writing about sports: the team you follow is on a two-game losing streak, the defense is falling off faster than a Mardi Gras bead thrown from a Bourbon Street balcony, defensive backs are giving away penalties like they are Oprah, and last but not least, the starting quarterback, Breesus himself is making non-believers all around the Who Dat Nation. Is there anything else happening in NOLA?
So, the Saints have kinda sucked the last two games. Well, where the defense is concerned, there is no “kinda” about it: they’ve been pitiful. But how about we start with something to cheer about huh?
The number of all-purpose yards by Alvin Kamara against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. Do you remember the Alvin Kamara from two years ago? Well, he is back. Further proving that last season was really an aberration due to injuries. AK41 has become the Saints’ offense through three games. With quarterback having turned into “5-yard-pass Drew” and wide receiver Michael Thomas missing, Kamara has put the Saints’ offense on his back and almost single-handedly kept New Orleans in the game against Green Bay.
Through three games, Kamara already has 438 all-purpose yards, with six touchdowns. As a team, the Saints have 10 total touchdowns. At this pace he’s going, Kamara will easily eclipse the 2,000 all-purpose yards mark by the time the regular season is over. That’s a man worth 75 million dollars.
Okay, maybe let’s address the quarterback elephant in the room? Last week after the Saints’ loss to the Raiders, the big story was about Drew Brees’ inability to go deep and gasp: his 64.7 completion percentage. Heck, I wrote about it myself. Since then, Brees went 29-for-36 for 288 yards, three touchdowns and no interception against the Packers. On the year, Brees is now 73-for-104 (70.2%), 760 yards, six touchdown and only one interception. Before it’s all said and done, Brees could have over 4,000 yards, 32 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Not too shabby huh? The truth is, despite not having played great through three games this season, there is a much bigger elephant in the room and pundits and Saints fans are not paying enough attention to it. So, let’s do it!
Through three games, the New Orleans Saints have surrendered 94 points, 31.3 points-per-game. This is the fourth-highest mark for the Saints in the Sean Payton era three games into a season. Giving up over 30 points a game is not just bad, it’s a recipe for losing. It doesn’t matter all that much how strong the arm of your quarterback is if his defense can’t stop a nose bleed. The Saints defense is allowing teams to convert a healthy 49% on third down so far this season, 80% (4-for-5) on fourth down. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 68% of their passes against the Saints this season, and pressure from the defensive line has been inconsistent. Case in point, Cam Jordan, the best defensive end on the Saints roster has exactly zero sacks through three games so far this season.
The 1-2 start that New Orleans has posted to this point is not even remotely resting on the weakened right arm of Drew Brees. Far from it. The Saints’ defense has been downright poor, and any hope for NFL contention in New Orleans this season rests on the defense starting to play up to their potential.
You know that sinking feeling you had in your stomach when the clock hit 0:00 on Sunday night and the Saints had lost to the Packers? And you wondered why that loss felt worse than even the one to the Raiders? There was something particular about this specific loss: it had been 31 regular season games since the Saints had lost two games in a row. For all the excruciating ways they have lost in the playoffs the past three years, the New Orleans Saints have been one of the very elite teams in the entire NFL these past three years. On September 27, 2017, a 36-20 home loss to the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots sent the Saints to an 0-2 record. New Orleans had lost 29-19 in their season opener at Minnesota that year, a game if you recall, where the Saints’ defense made Sam Bradford look like...well, Tom Brady. The week following that humbling loss to the Pats, the Saints went on the road and spanked the Carolina Panthers 34-13. It took an incredible two years and 10 days for New Orleans to once again experience consecutive losses. Saints fans will certainly be hoping for a win in Detroit next Sunday and the start of another long streak of non-consecutive losses.
Where’s Cam Jordan at? On TV! I kid, I kid...but not entirely. Through three games this season, Jordan has amassed as many sacks as you and me. Zero. Nothing. Nil. The Saints as a team have seven sacks, Trey Hendrickson has two of them, Demario Davis has two, Malcolm Jenkins, Carl Granderson and David Onyemata have one apiece. Cam Jordan is singing Celine Dion on NFL adds. I am being a bit harsh and somewhat facetious, but the Saints’ defense has been the Achilles heel of the team so far this season, and its leader isn’t leading by example to this point. Now the season is young and this weekend in Detroit, Jordan has a chance to change the sack section of his stat sheet from a goose egg to a crooked number, against a Lions team that has allowed four sacks per game the last two weeks. Let’s hope the turnaround starts on Sunday.
Which of these numbers most impresses you?
This poll is closed
197: Kamara is the team MVP right now and one of the best RBs in the league
70.2: Drew’s demise has been greatly exaggerated!
70.2: Numbers lie! Drew still can’t throw more than 10 yards in the air.
94: If the defense doesn’t turn it around, the season’s already over
31: Nearly two full seasons without consecutive losses is incredible!
0: Cam Jordan is too busy being a celebrity these days.