Five numbers that will make you pause and appreciate life after the Saints’ 13-10 win against the Seattle Seahawks.
18 - The Saints Are in Great Hands with Sean Payton
Since 2006, when Sean Payton became the head coach in the New Orleans Saints, he has led his team on the field in 26 Monday Night Football games. In those games, the Saints are 18-and-8, a 0.692 winning percentage. The 18th victory was Monday’s 13-10 victory in Seattle, without Hall-of-Fame to be quarterback Drew Brees, without All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas, with a makeshift offensive line and only one viable running back. The Saints are 4-2, and if they defeat the 6-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday in the Superdome, they will be firmly in the race for a fifth consecutive NFC South division crown and the playoffs. Payton not only changed the fortunes of the Saints’ franchise when he took the job 15 years ago, he has been able to reinvent himself and has sustained excellence, which is the hardest thing to do in any profession. He is not a perfect coach by any means, but with him at the helm, I trust that the Saints’ organization will always have a chance to be competitive and as a Saints’ fan, that is an outstanding feeling to have.
66 - Life in the Fast Lane
Alvin Kamara is fast, deceptively so. On the field, he doesn’t ever appear to be running with maximum effort, and yet somehow, he is always nearly uncatchable, untacklable (I just invented that word) and at times, he seems to run away from gasping defenders with a baffling inevitability. How does he do it? Incredible genetics and a ridiculous work ethic in the offseason. That is how after Monday night’s game, Alvin Kamara became the fastest NFL player to reach 3,000 rushing yards (3,759) and 3,000 receiving yards (3,065). It took Kamara 66 games to reach these milestones, surpassing former San Francisco 49ers running back Roger Craig who needed 70 games to reach the same rushing and receiving marks. On Monday night in Seattle, Kamara had a combined 179 yards of offense (128 receiving, 51 rushing), with each yard needed to edge the Seahawks 13-10.
15.4 - It’s Not All Good in the Neighborhood
The 2021 NFL season always figured to be a bit of a struggle for the New Orleans Saints offensively. Gone was Drew Christopher Brees, who for 15 years (okay, maybe 13 years) played the quarterback position with a perfection that had never been seen before in New Orleans. Also gone, albeit temporarily, was Michael Thomas, he of the steel hands and hundreds of receptions in a single season, lost far too long to a pesky ankle injury that refuses to heal. Add a cast of misfits made of quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receivers Marquez Callaway, Juwan Johnson, Tre’Quan Smith, and Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Add in a butter-fingered tight end in Adam Trautman, mix well and you get what you got on Monday night from the Saints’ offense: 2-for-13 on third down. Yes, that is a 15.4% conversion percentage on third down against a Seattle Seahawks defense that had gotten abused by opponents for weeks. As good as the Saints’ defense is this season, New Orleans is going to need more from its offense if it wants to compete with any of the big teams in the NFC, because the era of the 2000 Ravens has come and gone, and offenses look like video games these days. Will it ever happen? Can it? Time always tells, but right now, Sean Payton and the Saints are winning thanks to their defense and despite their offense except for Alvin Kamara.
5 - Let’s Get This Party Started
You know how you can tell that your defensive line is getting healthier? When you come into Monday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks with 8 total sacks in five games and leave game No. 6 with 13 total sacks. In one night, the New Orleans Saints nearly doubled their season sack total with five takedowns of Seattle’s quarterback Geno Smith. The Saints were getting edge rusher Marcus Davenport back from short-term IR, and the pressure applied on Seattle’s offensive line and its quarterback was noticeably higher than the Saints had shown in any previous games this season. Even better, New Orleans did not rely on one specific player to rack up the sacks on Monday: Cam Jordan notched his first of the year, while defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (1), linebacker Demario Davis (2) and safety Malcolm Jenkins (1) all joined the party. Here’s hoping that the sack-fest continues with Tom Brady coming to town on Sunday.
1992 - A Year of Broken Streaks
Earlier this season, the Saints defeated the New England Patriots in Foxboro, in what was the Patriots’ second consecutive regular season loss to start a year, something that had not happened since September 17, 2000. Well, on Monday night, New Orleans went 8 years better than the Patriots’ record: by beating the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field, the Saints sent the Hawks to an 0-3 home record to start the season, something that hadn’t happened in Seattle since 1992. In an odd year of broken streaks, let’s be thankful that the Saints are the team doing the breaking.
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