Five numbers that will make you gloomy about the Saints’ offense, with maybe a little bit of hope on the horizon despite the Saints’ humiliating 31-6 loss against the Buffalo Bills.
The New Orleans Saints have decided to roll with Taysom Hill at quarterback, according to reports. The Saints started the season 5-2, and have since lost four games in the row, the first time that happened to the team since 2015. During the four-game losing streak, the Saints have been abysmal on offense, and even the season numbers are mind-numbing for a team coached by one of the great offensive minds in the NFL, in head coach Sean Payton. We should have seen this coming once Drew Brees retired, but most of us in the Saints’ fanbase believed Payton could turn any quarterback into a future Hall-of-Famer. Not so. Now, the Saints turn to a healthier Taysom Hill in place of the erratic Trevor Siemian. New Orleans is hoping for a jolt of offensive energy with the insertion of the versatile Hill at the most important position on the field and do the Saints need some energy. Let’s look at some key offensive (literally) numbers for the Saints this season, and the reason why this season might not be salvageable, even with Taysom now taking over under center.
309.4 - Bad, Even in Total Yards
The 2021 Saints are 27th out of 32 NFL team in total yards with 309.4 per game. Total yards are one of the most flawed metrics in football, because they are highly insufficient to evaluate how good or bad a team is. A team that trails often will start chucking the ball up a ton to try and catch up and thus create a lot of “empty” yards, while still losing games. In another scenario, a team that has a short field via either an interception or a fumble recovery is likely to score without compiling many yards at all.
During their four-game losing streak, the Saints have trailed a lot, and by big margins. Despite that, New Orleans is still only five places from being the worst producer of total yards in the NFL. This speaks to the inability for the Saints’ quarterback to deliver accurate balls to the wide receivers, and the inability for these wide receivers to catch the well-thrown ball. It also speaks to a moribund running game and an overall anemic offense.
198.2 - Not Getting a Pass
Do you remember how Saints fans used to think that Sean Payton passed the ball too much? That was so...2020. Starting the year with Jameis Winston as the quarterback, the Saints were hiding their signal-caller, protecting him from himself and not allowing him to make the big mistake. The strategy worked early on, as Winston protected the ball, making big passes in spots, while the Saints relied on their defense to win games and get to a 5-2 record. Then Winston got hurt, and it all fell apart. With Trevor Siemian not being as efficient as Winston at quarterbacking an NFL team, the Saints are currently the 27th-ranked team in the NFL in passing yards per game (198.2). Not making matters better, New Orleans is the 24th-ranked team in the league in passing yards per play at 6.36. So, not only are the Saints not passing the ball proficiently, but they are also more often unable to create explosive passing plays (plays of over 20 yards), which explains the next number in this piece.
38.06 - Third Down and Out
When the 2021 Saints face a third down, they fail to convert it into a first down of the time 61.94%. A success rate of 38.06% on third down is 22nd out of 32 teams in the NFL, once again below average. This number goes hand in hand with the Saints being 24th in the NFL in first downs per game (19.2). If a team cannot create first downs, it cannot sustain drives, which is what has befallen the Saints during this four-game losing streak; as the offense failed to remain on the field, it doomed its defense to be on the field for long and tiring opponents’ drives, leading to large deficits that the team had to try and claw back from, alas unsuccessfully.
76.92 - Alive, but Not Kicking
Yes, the Saints have not been great offensively in 2021, and since misery loves company, the placekicking game has joined the sucky party. New Orleans is ranked 25th in the NFL with a 76.92% conversion on field goal attempts. A conversion rate of at least 85% is what is generally considered acceptable for NFL kickers. The 10th-best team in field goal percentage in the NFL thus far this season is the Indianapolis Colts at 87.5%.
For perspective on how bad this season has been for the Saints in the placekicking department, in 2019, the last year New Orleans had a healthy Wil Lutz for the length of the season, the Saints had an 88.9% success rate on field goals (7th in the NFL). A losing team is often the sum of multiple failing units. In 2021, the Saints have a lot more failing units than winning one, which is why they currently sit in third position in the NFC South behind both the Bucs (8-3) and the Falcons (5-6).
71.05 - Not Too Shabby
Despite being an overall below average offense in the NFL, one place where the Saints have excelled this season is in the red zone. New Orleans is second in the entire NFL in red zone scoring percentage with 71.05%. This metric measures the total number of touchdowns scored over the team’s overall number of red zone appearances. The Saints are behind only the 6-5 San Francisco 49ers (77.42%) and ahead of the likes of the Arizona Cardinals (70.45%), Cincinnati Bengals (70%) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (66%). With Taysom Hill inserted at quarterback and the fact that he brings the threat of both the pass and the run, the Saints figure to keep that percentage up, and they may even improve it. There is some sunshine on the horizon, folks. The only question is whether it will happen this season or next year. But the season isn’t over just yet.
How do you feel about Taysom Hill taking over at quarterback?
This poll is closed
It can’t hurt, the team needed a change
It won’t change much, he can’t really pass the ball
He will revive the offense, I think Saints make the playoffs now
Is it next season yet? Can we get Russell Wilson?
I never change my burger of choice midseason
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