Welcome back New Orleans Saints fans!
As week three approaches the Saints have gone from possible NFC contenders to unknowns if you enjoy keeping up with the national media. After a wounded Saints team fell short versus an undefeated Carolina Panthers team in Week two, New Orleans will look to respond against a New England Patriots team who easily could be undefeated themselves entering Week three.
The Saints appear to be much healthier coming into Foxboro, and they’ll need to be as the Pats will pose similar threats from a defensive perspective that Carolina feasted on in last Sunday’s defeat. Ball security and offensive line protection will be crucial. as New England appears to once again have a dangerous pass rush on top of an elite secondary. On the other side of the ball, the Saints will see rookie quarterback Mac Jones and a running attack led by Damien Harris. For a more detailed look into New England, we caught up with Brian Phillips from Pats Pulpit. You can find Brian on Twitter @BPhillips_SB.
Hope you enjoy the latest episode of Outsider’s Perspective.
The Patriots could easily be 2-0 to start the season, why aren’t they?
They simply didn’t play clean football in week one at home against Miami. Any time you lose two fumbles – including one in Dolphins territory late in the fourth quarter while driving to take the lead – while also committing eight penalties for 84 yards, you’ve got a recipe for an ‘L’.
Week two saw much a much cleaner Patriots final gamebook. That, coupled with an aggressive defense feasting on rookie QB Zach Wilson’s mistakes, led to a decisive win in the Meadowlands.
Who’s a player that Saints fans may not know but need to pay attention to on Sunday for New England?
If you like safeties that appear a bit too big for how fast they move, then you’re going to love watching Kyle Dugger. The 37th overall selection in last year’s draft out of national powerhouse Lenoir-Rhyne asserted himself quickly in 2020 as a twitched-up, assignment-sound box defender and overhang player against the run.
Belichick’s trust in him grew quickly, and it wasn’t long until he was tasked with varied assignments from week to week. So, don’t be surprised on Sunday if on any given play he’s aligned in the deep middle on MOFC coverages or firing on blitzes from the overhang/nickel spot. Also, don’t be surprised if he’s showing serious chops in man coverage, as he’s shown improvement in already this season in processing, taking better angles, and reacting aggressively. Big things are on the horizon for this kid.
How good has Mac Jones been in detail? Can he be a game-changer early?
Mac Jones has been as advertised. He’s played with good poise in the pocket and, for the most part, delivered the football accurately on time. A combination of some inconsistent line play, conservative play-calling, and a fortuitous week-two game script has led to fewer downfield throws, but the opportunities have been there for him to seize. All eyes will be on that aspect of his game moving forward.
Can he be a game-changer early on? For now, I’ll say no because 2021 will be spent learning the nuances of the NFL game, limiting mistakes, and allowing the personnel around him to drive production. But the future looks pretty good for a guy just eight quarters into his career.
What’s the biggest misconception about the Pats this season?
The biggest misconception around the Patriots is the notion that this isn’t a playoff roster. It is. There’s simply too much talent in all three phases to be written off. Growing pains on offense were, and still should be, expected. But, even if Stephon Gilmore never sets foot on the field in 2021, their defense is a top 5-7 group, and you’d be hard-pressed to find special teams units better than New England’s. An 11-win season is not out of the realm of possibility.
5. Your outsider’s perspective on the Saints?
There are four things I love about the Saints organization:
How Mickey Loomis constructs rosters and manipulates the salary cap.
Sean Payton’s seemingly endless wizardry. Week in and week out, there’s only one coach in the NFL – in my biased opinion – that yields more production from the personnel he has to work with.
I love how this Saints roster was built with a trench-first focus. When healthy, they are easily a top-5 OL/DL combo in the NFL. In many ways I think these two teams are on similar tracks at the moment; very good cores of young and veteran talent each led by a genius head coach and QBs whose ceiling heights are matched only by the number of question marks surrounding them.
It’s going to be a fun match-up, although I am predicting an ugly game. In the end, the dominance of New England punter Jake Bailey will be too much for the Saints to handle: 19-17, Patriots.
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