Five numbers that will make you scratch your head and binge on burgers.
The 2021 New Orleans Saints will go down as the ineptest at quarterback of all Saints teams since 2006, when Sean Payton took the reins of the franchise. It all started with Drew Brees retiring at the end of the 2020 season and the team not really having an adequate plan for his replacement. While the team was 5-2 with Jameis Winston as the starting quarterback, Winston wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire. In fact, Sean Payton was actively hiding his starting quarterback behind New Orleans’ stellar defense. The fact that Winston got hurt in the seventh game of the season was bad luck, but it was also an event that the Saints were ill-prepared for, because the backups to Winston were Taysom Hill, who has never been a true pro quarterback in his life, and Trevor Siemian, who has been a journeyman since his short stint as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos years ago.
The Saints did not prepare for the post-Brees era at quarterback adequately, and now they are paying the price. On Monday night, they had to start Ian Book, a rookie from Notre Dame who quickly showed he did not belong on the field, in a 20-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins that included some unthinkably bad offensive numbers for New Orleans. They say that progress starts when someone is courageous enough to look at their flaws and address them. Maybe the Saints will heed that advice this offseason Let’s look at the numbers.
0 - A New Low
Against the Miami Dolphins, the Saints went 0-for-12 on third down. Yes, that is exactly 0%. What’s more, this was the first time since Payton took the Saints over that New Orleans went a full game without converting on third down. Counting only the regular season, that is 254 games, and on the 255th, a team led by offensive guru Sean Payton was not able to muster a single third down conversion. Who would’ve ever thought they’d see it? I certainly did not.
3 - At Least It’s Not Zero
When the Saints scored three points on Monday night in the Caesars Superdome, it was also a new low in terms of points scored in the Sean Payton era. Before that, the lowest number of points scored by New Orleans in a regular season game was six, in a 24-6 defeat to the Houston Texans on November 29, 2015.
4 - The King is Dead
The streak will stop at four, but what a streak it was. With the Buccaneers beating the Carolina Panthers 32-6 last Sunday, the Bucs won the NFC South for the first time since 2007. The division crown snapped a four-year NFC South winning streak for the Saints, a feat that was and remains a first for the NFC South.
4 - Home (Not So) Sweet Home
Do you remember what happened on October 31, 2021? The Saints beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 36-27 in the Superdome to improve to 5-2. Jameis Winston got hurt in that game, and New Orleans proceeded to lose its next five games. The last day of October was also the last Saints’ victory in the Superdome, as they’ve lost four games in a row at home. What used to be a great home field advantage is now a place where opponents come with no fear. Another thing the Saints need to change for next season, and it will start with having a quarterback that strikes fear in opposing defenses.
8 - No Luck for the Irish
Dolphins aren’t exactly known as predators, but on Monday night, Miami smelled blood in the water. The Saints were without left tackle Terron Armstead, right tackle Ryan Ramczyck and had to play the likes of Caleb Benenoch in the interior line. Ian Book, the impromptu starter for the Saints, a former starting quarterback for Notre Dame was sacked eight times in the game. Oh yeah, you guessed it: the eight sacks allowed were a record for a Sean Payton’s team. 2021 is the year of records for New Orleans, just not the kinds you want to hold. Is it 2022 already?
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