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Outsider’s Perspective: Can a healthier New Orleans Saints team start their first winning streak of the season?

A sit down with Mookie Alexander from SB Nation.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints are back on Monday Night football with a road matchup against the Seattle Seahawks next on the schedule. New Orleans is fresh off a bye week and will return several key players from injury as they look to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

Awaiting them will be a Seahawks team who have dealt with injuries of their own, most notably all world Quarterback Russell Wilson. If Seattle has any chance of keeping their season alive before a Wilson return, they’ll need to start winning some games.

In hopes to learn more about Seattle, we linked up with Field Gulls writer Mookie Alexander. Mookie gave us one of our more detailed episodes and it was fun to piece together. We hope you enjoy the latest extension of Outsider’s Perspective.

What should Saints fans expect with Geno Smith under center? How much does the offensive game plan change for Seattle?

We’re still on a limited sample size but based off of last week with a full game plan, don’t expect many deep shots or the types of throws that can really stress a defense. Geno wasn’t terrible but he was remarkably conservative so as to not throw interceptions.

I understand it but it obviously hurts the Seahawks offense when you have two remarkable deep threats in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett but end up with an average depth of target of 3.2 yards beyond the LOS. I don’t think they had more than three attempts more than 10 yards down the field, and that’s just not how the Seahawks offense normally operates when Russell Wilson is the QB.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

What was noticeable about the 3rd quarter is that the Seahawks abandoned a very curiously pass-heavy approach and Pete Carroll presumably got in Shane Waldron’s ear about running the ball. It worked superbly and Alex Collins had a 100-yard rushing performance and they even converted a 3rd and 7 on a draw with 3rd down back Travis Homer. Conditions in Seattle are expected to be rainy on Monday (surprise, surprise) so I have to think if there will be a gameplan change from this week compared to the Steelers game, the Seahawks are going to try and pound the rock.

Alex Collins might not be available since he got hurt, but Rashaad Penny is back from injury and they have Deejay Dallas and Travis Homer as the backups. The obvious issue beyond Seattle’s backfield and wanting to run it more is that the Saints run defense is stout, so uh... yeah that’s gonna be a problem for the Seahawks. Independent of the running game, I hope Shane Waldron can increase his play-action rate because it’s inexcusable to come from Sean McVay’s offense and be middle of the pack in PA rate.

DK Metcalf versus Marshon Lattimore is the matchup everybody will be tuned in to see. Everyone knows about the elite athlete DK is, but what would surprise people on a deeper level in regards to him playing the wide receiver position?

Metcalf is a far better route runner than he’s given credit for. The fixation over his slow three-cone time and whatever else the draftheads criticized him for pretty much typecast Metcalf as a go-route receiver and not much else. Patrick Peterson isn’t what he once was but DK had him spinning around on this play a few weeks back, and while the Seahawks are horrible at screens it looks like Metcalf is the only one who can create extra yards through his ability to break tackles.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When he gets a running start in space he’s like a locomotive out there and it doesn’t always have to be a vertical route. I still have my gripes concerning Metcalf’s struggles bringing down contested catches, but he has expanded his overall game so that he can beat you short, intermediate, and deep. Lattimore is going to be a very difficult matchup and with a backup throwing to him, but he did find success against Jalen Ramsey two weeks ago so this will be another fascinating WR vs. CB battle.

Saints fans surely know Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams for the Seahawks defensively. Is there a lesser known name that New Orleans needs to familiarize themselves with on that side of the ball?

Quandre Diggs is the free safety and while he’s no prime Earl Thomas, he has been one of Seattle’s most consistently good performers on an otherwise bad defense. He has the Seahawks’ only two interceptions on the season and in fact since he came over from Detroit in 2019, he has as many interceptions (10) in 27 games played as the rest of the Seahawks secondary combined. He has a nose for the ball and can deliver big hits like the classic Legion of Boom teams.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Another one to watch out for (if he plays) is Darrell Taylor, who’s essentially a rookie since he didn’t play last season after recovering from surgery. He leads the team with four sacks in six games and also is tops on the team in pressures.

Taylor had a terrifying looking injury on SNF against Pittsburgh and you feared the worst when he was hospitalized, but it looks like nothing really serious came out of that play and he may be able to suit up for MNF. At this point with the sudden decline of Carlos Dunlap, I’d say Taylor is already the Seahawks’ best pass rusher.

What’s the biggest misconception about the Seahawks right now?

That the Seahawks don’t invest in their offensive line. Don’t confuse bad investment with non-investment. Now to be fair they did really push the limits of minimal investment from 2015-2017 when they had some absolutely inept starters (Luke Joeckel at guard, J’Marcus Webb and Bradley Sowell taking turns trying to get Russell Wilson killed, Drew Nowak replacing Max Unger and never blocking anyone, etc.) but in recent seasons they have made more serious efforts to at least have a competent o-line.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

They traded for left tackle Duane Brown midway through 2017 and he’s been Seattle’s best o-lineman, drafted Damien Lewis in the 3rd round (and he’s starting at left guard right now), and acquired Gabe Jackson via trade to be the other guard. The bad investments were Germain Ifedi in the 1st round and really at this point Ethan Pocic in the 2nd round because he’s neither consistently healthy nor was he able to win the starting job at center this year.

Justin Britt (2nd rounder) wasn’t a bad pick and he was solid as Seattle’s center from 2016-2019 but he was a disaster at right tackle and left guard before they found his comfort zone in year three. Seattle hasn’t made the splashy moves in the offseason to bolster the offensive line but they haven’t just flagrantly ignored it. They’re just not consistently great with decision-making. I’m definitely not bitter over cutting Jahri Evans, for instance...

Your outsider’s perspective on the New Orleans Saints coming into the game?

The Saints’ start has been a bit odd to say the least. That blowout over Green Bay was incredible but that collapse against the Giants really shouldn’t have happened. I picked them to make the wild card this season and since this does not look like a strong NFC I’ll stick to that. It’s hard to see the NFC East getting a 2nd playoff team, the Panthers and Falcons probably won’t be factors in the NFC South, and the only viable 2nd playoff team I see in the NFC North is Minnesota.

The NFC West fielding three playoff teams looks unlikely with the way the Seahawks and 49ers are playing, so really New Orleans can probably still make the postseason even if they’re somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-8.

I’m certainly picking them to win over the Seahawks, as I think the defense will make Geno’s life miserable and a steady dose of Alvin Kamara will befuddle Ken Norton Jr, who will undoubtedly try to stick his linebackers and defensive ends on him in the passing game. If nothing else, the Saints have more than enough talent to be a playoff team but I doubt there’s a deep playoff run to be had with Winston’s boom or bust tendencies.

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