Five numbers that will make you question yourself and the reason you decided to root for a professional sports team after the Saints’ 27-17 defeat at the hands of the lovely Dallas Cowboys.
The New Orleans Saints decided to roll with Taysom Hill as their starting quarterback against the Dallas Cowboys last Thursday night in the Caesars Superdome. The result, alas, was the same as the four games that Trevor Siemian started, a Saints’ loss. To make matters worse, Taysom Hill injured his finger and proceeded to throw four interceptions in the game. Let’s just say that things are not exactly rosy in Saints’ land right now. But without further ado, let us take a look at the numbers.
252 - Ghosts From...never
With the loss to the Cowboys on Thursday night, the Saints have now lost five consecutive games. The occurrence was the first since Sean Payton took over as the Saints’ head coach, and the team played its first game under his guidance on September 10, 2006. Remarkably, it took 252 regular season games for the Saints under Payton to ever lose five games in a row. So, even in the meager 7-9 years of 2014-16 Payton has always fielded a competitive team. Tellingly, he also had Drew Brees as his quarterback all those years.
101 - Maybe Not a Quarterback, Certainly a Weapon
Taysom Hill is not a very good thrower of a football. This is the reason why I believe that the Saints should make a strong play for Russell Wilson this offseason, because Hill as a quarterback is an exciting yet limited player. However, as a non-thrower, I cannot recall the last time I saw a player as versatile as Hill. As we all know, he can play running back, gunner on special teams, wide receiver, you name it, he has done it. He possesses a rare combination of power, speed and toughness, willing to take on defenders and dish as much punishment as he is taking. Most running quarterbacks use elusiveness and try to avoid getting hit. Hill seeks collisions. Against the Cowboys on Thursday night, he rushed 11 times for 101 yards, with a long run of 24 yards and an incredible 9.2 yards-per-rush average. For perspective, the Saints rushed for a total of 153 yards in the game, and Mark Ingram, the starting running back in the game rushed 10 times for 28 yards. Hill is a much better player in the joker role that Payton has often played him in. Right now, he gives New Orleans the best chance to win, but it is mostly as a dual-threat quarterback, with an emphasis on the run.
167 - Slipping
Not so long ago, the New Orleans Saints had the best rush defense in the NFL. As the Saints’ offense has started the struggle, so has New Orleans’ defense against the run. Over the past three games of their current five-game losing streak, the Saints have allowed 167 total yards on the ground, and a much too generous 4.8 yards-per-rush. The Eagles landed the heaviest blow (242 yards, 4.8 average per rush), but both the Bills (113, 3.5) and the Cowboys (146, 6.1) gashed the Saints’ once vaunted defense. While most of the blame for the Saints bad form of late has been placed at the feet of the offense, the defense has had its fair of letdowns and blown plays. In the end, the failure New Orleans is experiencing right now is much more team-wide than initially perceived.
5 - Incredible Excellence
In his 16th season as the head coach of the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton’s teams have only had five losing seasons, with one of these being the 2012 year, when Payton was not even in the building coaching the team. This is a level of success that had never been experienced within the Saints’ organization prior to Payton’s arrival. With the team 5-7 on the season with five games to go, New Orleans needs to win at least four more games to go 9-8 and avoid suffering the sixth losing season for the Saints since 2006. A tall task for the Saints, but one that starts in earnest next Sunday at the New York Jets.
130 - Fourth Quarter Warriors
You have all guessed it, now we can actually put a number to it: the Saints are one of the highest-scoring NFL teams in the fourth quarter of games. By quarters, the Saints’ scoring this season goes like this; 24 points in the first, 80 points in the second, 40 points in the third and a whopping 130 points in the fourth. The sad thing is New Orleans has been outscored by 17 in the first quarter and by 27 in the third quarter. So, the reason they score so much in the fourth quarter is not because they are crushing teams, but because the other teams are so far ahead that they relax or start playing prevent-defense. Things can only get better from here, right? Right?
Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, on Instagram @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel.