The New Orleans Saints took care of business to close out the season on Sunday as they defeated the Carolina Panthers 33-7. The victory also marked the first time in division history that a team has swept all three opponents throughout the course of the season.
A lot of things went right for the Saints as they will now face the Chicago Bears on Wild Card weekend with their game scheduled for Sunday. New Orleans showcased some players that haven’t seen the field in quite sometime and they had big games. This was due to COVID-19 keeping players out, and meanwhile others were facing injuries that were not illness related. This means that a lot of overreactions from fans are centered around these players.
Here we go!
Ty Montgomery is a starting running back
The entirety of the Saints running back room was ruled out for Sunday’s contest after Alvin Kamara tested positive for COVID-19. Due to close contact, Latavius Murray and Dwayne Washington were all ruled out as well. Enter Ty Montgomery. For the majority of the season Montgomery has been injured and therefore had only seen 28 snaps all season before the Week 17 game. Additionally, when he did take the field the majority of his snaps came as a wide receiver, not as a running back.
Yet, it was his versatility that was touted all week when it was discovered he would be taking over the starting duties at running back. The Stanford product ended the game with 105 yards on the ground and a reception for 2 yards. This type of performance has led many to believe Montgomery is starting running back material.
Obviously Kamara is a great player. But why pay him as much as the Saints did when Ty Montgomery, a guy who's barely played all year, can replicate that production for a much smaller cost?— Gordon (@beet_gordon) January 5, 2021
Furthermore, many have asked why is Kamara getting paid when a guy like Ty can come in and put up comparable numbers? It is a silly question considering that Kamara provides far more to this offense than arguably any other player. But, the offensive line has to be given credit for a lot of the rushing attack. Over the last two weekends they have been elite at run blocking and both Kamara and Montgomery have benefited.
Ty should have played himself into a new contract with the team after Sunday. However, he is not a starting running back, and his versatility is where his true value lies. He proved it on Sunday.
The Saints defense doesn’t need Marcus Williams
The Saints defense finished the season as the fourth-ranked defense in the league. Some of that was helped to the finish line by Sunday evening’s performance. 5 interceptions and 3 sacks later, New Orleans made Carolina look pedestrian. The secondary played well when it counted, such as intercepting passes in the redzone and the endzone to end good looking drives by the Panthers. In fact, Carolina pulled starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater during the game due to performance.
Many applauded the secondary’s efforts in the game largely because of the five picks, and many even insinuated that safety Marcus Williams wasn’t even needed on the defense. Williams has been out since Week 15 with an ankle injury, and while he may not be popular with many New Orleans fans for past transgressions, he has been a star. This season Williams has made the jump from good to elite, and Pro Football Focus (PFF) has him graded out at 79.3, a well above average grade for his position.
Please PLEASE keep Marcus Williams and leave the rookie in https://t.co/RDbPlgTCdR— (@TopBoyJRod) January 5, 2021
One of the biggest reasons this defensive unit has been so successful this season is due to Williams’s play. Yes, the run defense has been great and the secondary unit as a whole has improved greatly. Yet, a lot of that has fallen on Williams and his leadership and play. It is more than just an overreaction to say that Williams is no longer needed on the defense. He will make a significant impact in the playoffs when playing against playoff caliber teams, not the Minnesota Vikings or the Carolina Panthers.
Marquez Callaway is the second coming of Marques Colston
Same initials, same player, right? Well, maybe, but not quite yet. Callaway is a big receiver with good hands and understands his routes. He has built some chemistry with quarterback Drew Brees, and for a couple of games this season he has seemed like the “X-factor” for the offense. It is obvious why many would and do compare him with Saints legend Marques Colston.
On Sunday, Callaway caught 3 receptions for 51 yards and played in 73% of the offensive snaps. Naturally, with superstar Michael Thomas out, other receivers will get their chance to shine, but Callaway has really taken advantage of his. For the second season in a row the Saints have hit big on undrafted free agents, last season was Deonte Harris, and now Callaway.
However, comparing him to one of the all-time New Orleans greats is a bit premature, and at this stage of the game, it is an overreaction. Callaway has stepped up this season and showcased his skills. He has also all but assured he has a roster spot next season, something that is a bit of a rarity for UDFAs. With a little more work, and a little more time, he could very well be the next coming of Colston. But he isn’t there yet.
What are your overreactions? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Instagram at @SaintsCSC and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @KadeKistner. Also, please subscribe to the Bleav in Saints podcast hosted by Delvin Breaux, Maddy Hudak and Kade Kistner