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.
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?
Five years is a relatively long time. In professional sports, where athletes often retire around the age of 30, five years is an eternity. It had been five NFL seasons since the New Orleans Saints had lost three games in a row. September 26, 2016 to be exact. That year, the Saints finished 7-9 and alas, the 2021 Saints look a lot like that 2016 team: win, lose, win, lose, lose, lose. Even Sean Payton looks defeated on the sidelines and plays the game as if not to lose too badly. Yesterday, with the Saints trailing 33-19 in the fourth quarter, Payton and the Saints face a 4th-and-7 at the Eagles’ 10-yard line. New Orleans would have been down only seven had they scored a touchdown (and made an extra point), with just under seven minutes left in the game. Instead, Payton trotted out Brett Maher to attempt a field goal and make the deficit 11 points with that little time left in the game. That’s no “Ambush” Payton, that’s “I don’t have Drew Brees anymore and I’m sad” Payton.
The Saints are now 5-5 on the season, and unbelievably, still second in the NFC South after the Carolina Panthers (5-6) lost at home to the Washington Football Team. But with seven games left in the season and a first-place schedule due to winning the division last season, New Orleans is firmly in trouble and Drew Brees won’t be walking through the door of the facility on Airline Drive any time soon. At least not to take a snap under center, and boy could the Saints use him right now.
Beignets and Café au Lait Awards
Stale Beignets and Cold Café au Lait: The Saints’ Rush Defense.
New Orleans came into Sunday’s game in Philadelphia with the best rushing defense in all of professional football. The Saints were allowing only 72.9 yards-per-game on the ground. The Eagles on the other hand, were one of the best rushing teams in the NFL and did they ever prove it! New Orleans looked like it learned nothing from facing Eagles’ quarterback Jalen Hurts last year, when Hurts had over 100 yards rushing against the Saints and consistently juked Saints’ defenders on run-pass-option plays. Fast-forward to yesterday and the Eagles rushed 50 times for 242 yards as a team. That’s a healthy 4.8 yard-per-rush average. Hurts rushed 18 times for 69 yards, and had three rushing touchdowns on the day. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. On Sunday, the Saints’ rush defense was clearly and unfortunately not the best, meaning New Orleans had no shot of beating the Eagles at what they do best.
No Beignets and No Café au Lait: The Saints’ placekicking game.
What’s another extra point missed? Just the fifth this season for New Orleans. Hey, who needs them? Not the Saints, who have been trailing in each of their last three games. Brett Maher, the new kicker for the Saints after Brian Johnson was released last week, quickly reminded everyone that seemingly no kicker will adequately replace Will Lutz this year. Lutz, who is out for the season, has been sorely miss, with a New Orleans kicking game that has now seen Aldrick Rosas, Cody Parkey, Brian Johnson and now Brett Maher all take turns kicking for the team. Four kickers in 10 games. Not good.
The Saints return home on Thanksgiving to face the now reeling Buffalo Bills (6-4) who have lost three of their past five games. Josh Allen, an early MVP favorite has been pedestrian of late and the Bills just got destroyed 41-15 by the Colts in Indianapolis. If New Orleans is ever to turn this season around, the Saints cannot afford to lose four games in a row. The Bills will also be desperate to right their own ship. The real question for New Orleans is this: will Alvin Kamara, Ryan Ramczyk, Terron Armstead, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Taysom Hill, etc. return from injury? The Saints are already short-handed at the quarterback position, with a journeyman backup in Trevor Siemian. They also have a collection of average to below-average wide receivers and tight ends trying to catch passes from Siemian. If on top of that they are missing half of their offensive and defensive lines, they simply have no shot this year. Will the turkey be tasty or sour on Thanksgiving? We will find out soon.
What is the best fix for the Saints this season?
Have all the injured players return to the active squad.
Insert Taysom Hill at quarterback to start faster on offense.
Sean Payton has to return to a more aggressive play-calling.
The defense has to stop giving up big plays.
The fix: 5 double whoppers and a bottle of Crown Royal to drown the pain.
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