After all the anticipation and angst that preceded this season after the retirement of the franchise’s greatest player, the off the field player issues, a quarterback battle, and a hurricane to boot, the New Orleans Saints opened the 2021 season with a 38-3 domination of the Green Bay Packers. Here are a couple takeaways from the big opening day game.
The offensive line was dominant
Everyone will look at the stat sheet for Jameis Winston and see 5 touchdowns passes and heap praise on the 27 year old and deservedly so. However, so much of the praise needs to go to the “Big Nasties” up front who kept a clean pocket for Jameis and opened up running lanes all day long. The Saints ran for 171 yards and gave up no sacks on Sunday and enforced their will on the opposition.
This was even more remarkable considering starting center Erik McCoy left the game on the first drive with a lower leg injury. This caused the Saints to shift Cesar Ruiz to center and for Calvin Throckmorton to replace Ruiz at right guard. Even with the change, the Saints didn’t miss a beat up front. This allowed Winston to make good, sound decisions with the football. Jameis Winston was great on Sunday, but so was the offensive line.
Dennis Allen’s game plan
If I were to tell you that a quarterback in this football game would go 15 of 28 for 133 yards, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions odds are you wouldn’t think it would be the reigning MVP of the league. It was precisely him as the Saints defense dismantled and frustrated the Green Bay offense all day long. With question marks coming in about the defensive line interior and who could be the solidified corner opposite Marshon Lattimore, playing Aaron Rodgers didn’t seem like the ideal choice to figure these things out. The Packers figured out pretty quickly just how long of a day it was going to be for them.
While most would consider this to be one of Rodgers worst games in recent memory, Saints fans would say this is one of the defense’ best played games in a long time. Whether it was the pressure being forced up front on the defensive line or the secondary locking in and making it a “No Fly Zone” the defense looked energized, aggressive, and fierce. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur finally waived the white flag with about 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter by benching Aaron Rodgers in favor of second year pro Jordan Love.
By any metric you can think of the Saints D was dominant. They held the Packers to 1 of 10 on 3rd down conversions, only allowed 43 rushing yards for the game, and forced 3 turnovers. Because they stifled the running game up, the Saints employed a 2 deep safety scheme for much of the game. Nothing got past them deep and all the short, crossing routes got gobbled up quickly as the defense flew to the ball and made plays. The game plan was outstanding and the players ran it to perfection.
After a win as dominating as that, you can go on and on about stellar play from Marcus Davenport, how exciting rookie Paulson Adebo looked, or how bright the future may be for Juwan Johnson. Sound off in the comments below and tell us what stood out to you the most on Sunday. The Saints will look to improve to 2-0 on the season as they take on the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
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