The word pretty is not what’s going to be associated with the New Orleans Saints for most of this football season. Most fans would be foolish to think that a transition from the franchise's best player to this current regime would be smooth sailing. To echo the phrase by the former Raiders owner Al Davis, “Just Win Baby”. No matter how it looks or what you have to go through to get there, a W at the end of the day is what matters. The Saints were able to do that in securing a 33-22 victory against the Washington Football Team. Here are my biggest takeaways from the victory.
Feast or Famine
The knock on Jameis Winston is that the risk/reward factor is high with him. Look no further than his last season in Tampa when he threw for 33 touchdowns but also 30 interceptions. The thought process would be pairing Winston with an offensive genius like Sean Payton could help corral his erratic decision making at times and leave the good quarterback qualities to shine through. It has shone bright at times and been a mixed bag at other times. In the Saints 3 wins, Winston has thrown for 11 touchdowns and 1 interception. In the Saints 2 losses, Winston has only managed 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Winston does have a 12 to 3 touchdown to interception ratio and is tied for 4th in the NFL in touchdown throws. None of this was more evident than in the first quarter of the game.
On the first drive of the game the Saints were facing a 2nd and 10 when Jameis dropped back to pass. The Washington defensive lineman pushed Andrus Peat into Winston and his pass helplessly fell into the arms of a Washington linebacker. Not all Jameis’ fault, but counts as an interception all the same. The next possession Winston launches a bomb 72 yard pass to a streaking Deonte Harris for a score. These are the kind of things you are going to get with Winston. It’s the Saints coaching staff and Winston who must make sure it’s more of the latter for this team to have ultimate success.
It seemed like Marshon Lattimore had a little extra juice this week in the matchup versus Washington. Not only was he paired against a young great wide receiver in Terry McLaurin, but McLaurin was also he former teammate at Ohio State. Whether former collegiate bragging rights or current NFL supremacy, Lattimore put on an absolute clinic on Sunday. Per Pro Football Focus Lattimore was the Saints highest grade defender on Sunday, holding the aforementioned McLaurin to just 2 catches for 31 yards on 9 targets. Lattimore also had 6 pass breakups in the game and held Washington’s quarterback to a 41.4 passer rating when targeting Lattimore. This isn’t anything new this season for Lattimore as he leads the league in pass breakups this season and has allowed the fewest completions in man coverage. Some argue that Lattimore only “gets up” for the big matchups and let’s lesser receivers get the best of him. Lattimore seems to be bent on winning every matchup every week and is showing why he was so deserving of the contract he received just a few weeks back.
Much Needed Break
If there ever was a team who needed a break for the bye this badly it would be the New Orleans Saints. The ever growing list of injuries seems as long as a CVS receipt and each and every game adds more to the list. Taysom Hill, Deonte Harris and Andrus Peat were added to that ever growing list on Sunday. Frankly, we know the Saints sit at 3-2 but we still don’t know who this team is or could be until their full complement of players is back. What will the offense look like with a healthy O-Line, all Pro Wide receiver Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith in the lineup? How much better will the defense be with David Onyemata off suspension and a healthy Marcus Davenport and Kwon Alexander back in the fold? What will the team look like with a healthy Wil Lutz being trusted to make a field goal? The current Saints aren’t the team we expect them to be at full strength. The bye week should allow them to get a little closer to that as they get a little healthier.
These were a few takeaways I had from the game on Sunday. What did you note significant? Sound off in the comment section below. The Saints have a bye this upcoming week before taking on the Seattle Seahawks the following Monday night.
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