The Good: Defense
The Saints defense held an offense of Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle to just 13 points, the 49ers lowest total since Week 3, all without a turnover and with only one sack. The Niners went on just one drive of over 60 yards, which ended in a turnover on downs. The Saints defense ensured that if the offense had scored their season average of 20 points per game they would have come away with a victory. Linebacker Kaden Elliss had 14 total tackles, 12 of which were solo, his second straight game of 12+ tackles. Once again, the Saints failed to put together a complete game, as the defense had another great performance while the offense failed to score a single point.
The Bad: Offense
The New Orleans Saints were shutout for the first time since Week 17 of 2001 as the 49ers top ranked defense denied the Saints for the entire afternoon. This may have been the straw that breaks the camel’s back in terms of Andy Dalton’s tenure as the starting QB. Given that a primetime game in Tampa with the highest stakes the Saints have faced this year looms, perhaps it is time to give Jameis Winston his shot at revenge against his old team Monday night. The Saints offense gained just 260 yards on Sunday, as every drive ended in a punt, a turnover/turnover on downs, and a missed field goal. The last four shutouts in team history have come against San Francisco, as you’d have to go all the way back to 1983 to find a shutout at the hands of another team.
The Ugly: Coaching/Play Calling
The coaching and play calling for the Saints has been ugly all year, as the offense has look uninspired and vanilla and few adjustments are being mad during games. Sunday was the crescendo of a yearlong problem, as the Saints made no adjustments to counter the 49ers defense and looked ill-prepared all day. The 49ers are giving up 15 points per game, and if the Saints were able to reach that small amount, they would have won. Dennis Allen may be coaching for his job over the next few weeks, although it may be too late. Allen is now 12-35 as a head coach in the NFL, and to put that into perspective, Sean Payton won 12+ games in a single season five times. This isn’t college football where you need to give a coach a few years to build a culture. Lucky for Allen, the Saints are not completely dead in the water due to the poor play in the rest of the NFC South. They have a golden opportunity to get within half a game of first place on Monday night in Tampa and could find themselves even closer after a game against the Falcons after the bye in Week 15. If Allen doesn’t turn things around over the next few weeks, the Saints will likely be looking for a new head coach this offseason.
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