The New Orleans Saints are 7-8, but they aren’t a 7-8 team. It’s hard to recall the last time a team played more shorthanded than they did Monday against the Dolphins in a 20-3 loss, even with the entire league battling COVID in its own way. The Saints threw a rookie out behind a makeshift offensive line and told him to do his best, and the Ian Book-led offense went 0-12 on third downs. That isn’t an indictment on Book or his future. That just is what it is.
The consensus among analysts is that the Saints are a better team than this, but we won’t find out how much better this season. The reality is, a team this obliterated by injury had no shot this late in the year. They lost the war of attrition, and now it’s time to think about 2022. While they’re not out of the playoff race just yet, this year Saints fans will want to remember two massive wins over the Buccaneers in primetime and not much else.
ESPN - #18 (From #17)
It was hard not to pick a defensive player such as LB Demario Davis or CB Marshon Lattimore, since the defense has been New Orleans’ driving force this season. But Kamara has practically been the entire offense because of injuries to WR Michael Thomas, QB Jameis Winston and the offensive line. Kamara is averaging nearly 100 yards per game from scrimmage (97.7) and has eight touchdowns in the 11 games he has played this season. And the offense fell even flatter when he wasn’t on the field from Weeks 10 to 13 because of injuries, with the Saints going 0-4 in that stretch. — Mike Triplett
USA Today - #19 (From #17)
Would they have started (or even drafted) Ian Book had they known he’d contribute to a 24-game losing streak by Notre Dame quarterbacks that dates to 2012?
CBS - #22 (From #22)
They just had way too many injuries and COVID losses to beat Miami. Their season looks to be coming to an end.
NFL - #21 (From #20)
Ian Book realized a dream on Monday by starting his first game in the NFL. By his second snap, it felt more like a nightmare. The rookie — pressed into action with both Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian on the reserve/COVID-19 list — threw a pick-six on the second pass of the night, and things didn’t get much better in a punishing loss to the Dolphins. Book was a piñata behind a makeshift offensive line, sacked eight times, and the toothless New Orleans attack failed to manage a single third-down conversion in 12 attempts. Like the Ravens in the AFC, the Saints feel like a once-promising team that’s simply endured too much. The roof has fallen in.
Bleacher Report - #20 (From #18)
If there’s one team in the NFL that rather deserves a mulligan of sorts for their season falling apart, it’s the New Orleans Saints.
Mind you, that mulligan isn’t going to get the Saints into the playoffs. And while New Orleans isn’t out of it completely after falling at home to the Miami Dolphins Monday night, it’s going to take wins over the Panthers and Falcons to close the season above .500—and some help on top of that to make the postseason.
And at this point, just accomplishing the front end of that is going to be a tall ask.
There isn’t a team in the league that seen the most important position on the field blasted harder by injuries this year than the Saints. Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending knee injury. Taysom Hill has been in and out of the lineup. Both Hill and Siemian landed on the COVID-19 list last week, forcing the Saints to start Ian Book against the Dolphins.
That went about like you’d expect. And so long as the situation under center is such a mess, the ceiling in the Big Easy is going to hover closer to also-ran than contender.
Yahoo - #20 (From #22)
The Saints had no shot Monday night, with a decimated offense led by rookie quarterback Ian Book. It stinks, because that might be the game that costs them a playoff berth.
Sports Illustrated - #21 (From #17)
Last week: Loss vs. Dolphins, 20–3 (Monday)
Next week: vs. Carolina
Copy and paste what I wrote about the Ravens, as this is another team that has just been devastated by injuries in a way that feels unfair. The difference here is New Orleans needs to find its long-term answer at quarterback to take advantage of the rest of the talent on its roster. But watching Ian Book just take shot after shot against the Dolphins did not feel like watching an actual Saints game.
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