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Beignets and Café au Lait: The Return of the Passing Game

There may be a method to Payton’s madness

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Washington Football Team Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Hi Y’all!

We are back! The 2021-22 NFL season is underway, with the ecstasy of victory and the agony of untimely interceptions. So, let’s take a look at what happened in the Saints’ game yesterday. But before that...

As always, for our novice or non-New Orleanians readers, welcome!

Let’s start with some definitions:

Beignets (English: /bɛnˈjeɪ/; French: [bɛɲɛ], ben-YAY literally bump) are distinctly New Orleans, a delicacy intimately connected to the city’s rich French heritage. Best enjoyed heavily powdered with sugar.

Café au lait (/ˌkæfeɪ oʊ ˈleɪ, kæˌfeɪ, kə-/; French: [kafe olɛ]; French for “coffee with milk”) is a delicious New Orleans way to start your day.

This is your “After-Saints-Game” brunch, where we talk about the state of the Black and Gold, we debate the goings-on with the team and talk about what’s next at this point of the season. So, sit back, take a bite and a sip while your brain slowly wakes up, and let’s catch up on some football.


What Just Happened?

A pass, I saw the Saints throw a pass! I jest, of course. However, what we saw yesterday afternoon at FedEx Field in Landover, MD, was a first in this 2021-22 season: the New Orleans Saints threw at least 30 times in a game. Yes, the Sean Payton-led New Orleans Saints waited until the fifth game of the season to attempt 30 passes in a game. Coming into Sunday’s game against the Washington Football Team, the Saints had attempted an average of 33.3 rushes per game, while throwing the ball 22.5 times per game. On Sunday, the Saints threw the ball 30 times against just 23 rushes.

Was it what the defense gave them or did Sean Payton hear the critics who thought he wasn’t showing much confidence in his first-year starter at quarterback? We will likely never receive a completely truthful answer from Payton. What matters is that the Saints won the game 33-22, and despite throwing one interception and fumbling the ball once, Winston orchestrated and offense that made big plays including a 72-yard touchdown pass and a 49-yard Hail Mary for a touchdown. The Saints rushed for a healthy 4.3 yards-per-rush, making judicious use of those measly 23 carries. six of which were Winston taking off from the pocket.

New Orleans’ defense stole the show in the game, especially cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who will be featured in the awards section of this article. Despite recording only two sacks of Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke, Dennis Allen’s unit intercepted Heinicke twice and hit him enough times to affect him and make him antsy in the pocket. On the field for 36.5 minutes and 76 plays, New Orleans’ defense was able to shut the door and preserve the team’s lead, unlike a week ago against the New York Giants.

Now at 3-2 on the season, the Saints go into their bye week with a date with the Seahawks in Seattle looming after the bye. New Orleans might have caught a break, with Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson likely out for a minimum of four weeks with a finger injury suffered on Thursday in a game against the Los Angeles Rams. The Saints are likely going to face Geno Smith on October 25 at Lumen Field in Seattle: that’s already a win. New Orleans could also see the return of several injured starters after the bye, the likes of linebacker Kwon Alexander and wide receiver Michael Thomas. The return of No. 13 to the Saints’ offense could spell a lot more 30 passing attempts games, and wouldn’t that be a sight for sore eyes!


Beignets and Café au Lait Awards

Fresh Beignets and Hot Café au Lait: Marshon Lattimore.

Lattimore had one tackle yesterday. Just one! But often, when a cornerback doesn’t have a ton of tackles it means the receiver he was covering didn’t have the ball very often. Well, all game long, Lattimore shadowed Washington’s best wide receiver Terry McLaurin, and recorded no less than six passes defensed! To give you some perspective, coming into Sunday’s game, the NFL leader in passes defensed was Dallas Cowboys’ cornerback Trevon Diggs with eight, while Lattimore had only three. After Sunday’s game, Lattimore is now second in the NFL with nine passes defenses on the season. McLaurin caught only 4-of-11 targets for 46 yards and no touchdowns, and most of his catches were on play designs that helped him get separation. For the anecdote, McLaurin and Lattimore were teammates at Ohio State for three years, which explains why there were a bit of bragging rights at stakes yesterday.

More Fresh Beignets and Hot Café au Lait: Sean Payton.

The Saints have been a hard team to figure out so far this season. They have won three games on the road, and lost the only true home game that they have played. Despite being up and down, featuring a new starting quarterback and having a slew of players injured, Payton has held this team together, while completely swallowing his pride as a play caller. The Saints’ head coach calling card is all-out offense. He wants to throw the ball 40 times a game, with 50-yard bombs galore. Yet, with Jameis Winston now at the helm and the trust between he and his coach just starting to build, Payton has gone against his nature and has run the ball more than we thought we would ever see. Sure, many, including yours truly have not agreed with his ultra-conservative play calling against the New York Giants two Sundays ago, which allowed New York to come back and win the game. However, it is admirable to see that the Saints’ head coach is about winning first and foremost, not just about calling plays the way he likes to. On Sunday against the WFT, Payton called more passes than he had all year, yet the Saints still were balanced enough to keep Washington’s defense honest and eventually win a workmanlike NFC game that now has them with the same record as the NFC South second-place Carolina Panthers (3-2) who lost to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, and only one game behind the division-leading Buccaneers (4-1).


What’s Next?

This upcoming week, the Saints will be looking to win the bye week. That means getting healthy, not letting any stranger grind on them in a bar while people are filming, and coming back ready to go for a 12-game marathon to the end of the season. As for us, let’s enjoy a relaxing week, Who Dats, we’ve earned it from our couches.

Poll

At 3-2, are the Saints where you expected them to be going into the bye?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Yes, and I’m happy with this record.
    (99 votes)
  • 59%
    Yes, but they should be 4-1. I’m mad!
    (211 votes)
  • 2%
    No, I expected 5-0 y’all. I am disappointed.
    (10 votes)
  • 6%
    No, I thought they would be worse, so I’m happy!
    (24 votes)
  • 2%
    I always expect the Double Whopper burger to fully satisfy me.
    (9 votes)
353 votes total Vote Now

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