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Beignets and Café au Lait: The Saints’ Offense is Offensive

And eight games into the season, there may not be a fix.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Hi Y’all!

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.

Café au lait (/ˌkæfeɪ oʊ ˈleɪ, kæˌfeɪ, kə-/; French: [kafe olɛ]; French for “coffee with milk”) is a delicious New Orleans way to start your day.

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?

Nothing we haven’t seen before from the 2021-22 New Orleans Saints: a supposedly inferior team comes to the Superdome, the Saints are decided favorites, the visiting team then proceed to take the Saints behind the proverbial woodshed for a thorough beating. Saints then summon some energy out of nowhere, make it close, just to eventually spit the bit and lose the game. If you feel like you’ve seen this movie before this season, you have: it was on October 3, when the hapless New York Giants visited the Superdome and left with a 27-21 win over a Saints team that had just defeated the New England Patriots in Foxboro. In the Saints’ three true home games, they have gone 1-2, the second loss coming yesterday, a 27-25 disheartening setback against the Atlanta Falcons, who at 4-4 are now just one game behind the 5-3 Saints.

New Orleans is not a serious contender in the NFC at this point, and this is not just an opinion, it is a fact. The Saints’ offense is the reason why. In the topsy-turvy world that is the 2021 NFL regular season, an offense led by Sean Payton is not just mediocre but decidedly below average in the NFL: the Saints are 27th in yards-per-play (5.1), 28th in yards-per-game (314.6), 21st in rushing yards-per-play (4.0), 22nd in first downs per game (19.9) and 24th in third down efficiency (36.8%). All these numbers are in the 20s, in a league with 32 teams.

Maybe Sean Payton will figure out his quarterback situation, maybe the Saints’ pass catchers will play better than they did yesterday, when the team scored a grand total of three points through three quarters, before an unlikely flurry in the fourth quarter. But until then, the Saints will not be able to compete with the likes of Arizona, Tampa Bay, Green Bay or Los Angeles (Rams). New Orleans’ defense is a unit capable of delivering a championship, but without help from the other side of the ball, I am afraid that the 2021-22 season will end like many others we have seen in recent years: an early playoffs exit.


Beignets and Café au Lait Awards

Stale Beignets and No Café au Lait: Adam Trautman.

Remember the times when the Saints had a bona fide pass catching tight end? Jeremy Shockey, Jimmy Graham, Benjamin Watson, even...gasp, Jared Cook. Well, now the Saints have Adam Trautman. And boy, am I ready to trade him to Atlanta. Trautman has been targeted 26 times this season, has caught only 15 of those passes, while dropping some crucial ones. Yesterday against the Falcons, Trautman dropped a crucial fourth down pass that hit him right between the 8 and the 2 of his number 82 jersey. He had two more drops, despite eventually catching four of his seven targets. When we are talking about the moribund state of the Saints’ passing game, one of the big reasons is the ineffective play of the pass catchers, wide receivers and tight ends included. Trautman unfortunately is failing to live up to the faith the Saints showed in him when they selected him with in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Stale Beignets and Lukewarm Café au Lait: The Saints’ Defense.

Hear me out: if the New Orleans Saints are to go anywhere this season, their defense is going to take them there. After flustering Tom Brady a week ago and picking him off twice, the Saints’ defense followed up with an uneven performance against Atlanta. The Falcons found no running room, rushing 25 times for 34 yards (1.4 yards-per-play). Atlanta’s longest run went for 5 yards. five! That is outstanding! What was not so great was how Matt Ryan carved up New Orleans’ defense through the air, and there seemingly was no response from Dennis Allen was his men. Ryan was 23 of 30 for 343 yards and two touchdowns. The yardage could have been even bigger had Falcons’ tight end Kyle Pitts not dropped a perfect pass on the very first play of the game that would have likely gone for well over 20 yards. The Falcons’ quarterback had a 135.8 rating (that is very good), and consistently burned the Saints’ secondary on passes to Pitts and do-everything-player Cordarrelle Patterson, who would catch the 64-yard pass with a minute left that would eventually lead to the Falcons’ game-winning field goal. Yesterday’s game felt like a half-bad day at the office for the Saints’ defense, and unfortunately, when your offense is entirely bad, that will lead to losses more often than not.


What’s Next?

It’s not getting any easier for the Saints: New Orleans travels to Tennessee to face the Titans next Sunday at 12 PM CT. Tennessee lost top running back Derrick Henry for the season to a foot injury, but that did not keep Mike Vrabel’s team from traveling to Los Angeles and handing the Rams a 28-16 defeat on Sunday Night Football. At 7-2, Tennessee has the best record in the AFC and is running away with the AFC South. Meanwhile the 5-3 Saints will be trying not to fall even further behind the 6-2 Bucs in the NFC South. Buckle up, we are just passing the midway point of the season.

Poll

What is the Saints’ biggest issue on offense this season?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Drew Brees retired?
    (49 votes)
  • 11%
    Siemian is not the answer. Taysom is not the answer. That’s it.
    (56 votes)
  • 66%
    Nobody can catch the damn ball man!
    (312 votes)
  • 9%
    Sean Payton doesn’t trust his receivers and calls games tentatively
    (46 votes)
  • 1%
    My biggest issue would be if they discontinued the double whopper with cheese.
    (6 votes)
469 votes total Vote Now

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