The Good: Tyrann Mathieu, Chris Olave and Blake Grupe
The only thing the New Orleans Saints had going for them Sunday was a few great individual performances, specifically from Mathieu, Olave and Grupe. Mathieu picked off two passes from Desmond Ridder, both of which halted promising looking drives, the most important of which came at the end of the first half in the red zone to keep it a one score game. Chris Olave finished with 7 catches for 114 yards despite exiting halfway through the third quarter with a concussion. Olave made multiple acrobatic catches over the middle for big gains, unfortunately the Saints were not able to capitalize off of his brilliance. Rookie kicker Blake Grupe also had his best game of the year. Unfortunately it came as a result of the Saints ineptitude in the red zone, but I will give the kid his props as he did his job. Grupe made his first five kick, three of which were from beyond 40 yards, but came up short on his sixth from 54 yards out. Hard to believe he wasn’t gassed at that point as the offense could never punch it in just once, and relied on the kicker to score all of their points on Sunday. Had Grupe’s last kick gone through it would have been the most field goals made in a single game in team history, breaking an eight-way tie at 5. So that’s fun I guess.
The Bad: Injuries Piling Up
The only good thing you could’ve said about this season so far is that the Saints had stayed relatively healthy, but that is no longer the case. Currently the Saints only healthy receivers are A.T. Perry, Lynn Bowden, Jr., and Keith Kirkwood, their 4th, 5th, and 6th string WRs. Michael Thomas was placed on IR earlier this week, and Olave and Rashid Shaheed exited the game with a concussion and a quad injury respectively. For an offense that is already struggling, this of course is the absolute last thing they need. Not to mention Marshon Lattimore being placed on IR and Cameron Jordan exiting early with a shin injury as well. If we thought the Saints offense was bad before I shutter to think what it would look like without Olave and Shaheed.
The Ugly: Red Zone Offense
The Saints finished an abysmal 0-5 in the red zone on Sunday, as the Falcons defense actually scored more points in the Saints red zone than the Saints offense by way of a 92-yard pick six by Jessie Bates. The Saints only punted once but finished with just 15 points on 9 drives. Every drive for the Saints after the initial 3-and-out ended in a turnover or field goal attempt. If you told me the Saints would have five scoring drives against the Falcons I would assume they would have won big, but when all five scoring drives are field goals you don’t have much of a chance. The Saints ran 21 plays from inside the Falcons 25 yard line. Taysom Hill only had two touches on such plays.
The Saints first drive into the red zone ended after Derek Carr threw incomplete on what should have been an easy pass to Shaheed, and then had a miscommunication with A.T. Perry which led to another incompletion and a field goal. The Saints second adventure into the red zone ended when Carr missed three wide open receivers, two of which would have scored, and instead threw into double coverage and was promptly picked off and ran back for a TD. The third red zone trip ended after a penalty on a play that should have resulted in a first and goal from the 3 moved them back to the 27, and then a sack on third down led to another Grupe field goal. The next trip ended after a Hill fumble at the Falcons 8 yard line on a drive following an interception by Mathieu that gave the Saints great field position and an opportunity to go up by 5 early in the 4th quarter. The Falcons would take the ball 95 yards down the field for a touchdown on their ensuing drive. The fifth and thankfully final attempt in the red zone was also derailed by penalty, as a holding negated a run by Alvin Kamara that would have given the Saints first and goal from the 9. The drive would end with another field goal.
And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
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