To get ready for the upcoming New Orleans Saints season, we’re rewatching all of last year’s games to remember what happened to who and pick up clues on the Saints 2023 approach.
Week 2: The Saints are 1-0. The Bucs are 1-0. It’s the home opener in the Dome, it’s Tom Brady’s last game ever in New Orleans. Probably.
What to remember:
The Fight. This game is all about the fight early in the fourth quarter. The Bucs had the ball. The game was a snoozer at 3-3 (as much as the commentators talked about it being great defense, the offenses stink) and Brady throws a deep pass to Scottie Miller. He’s covered by Marcus Lattimore. Marcus, maybe, probably has Miller’s arm. No flag. Brady runs down the field to complain.
(I know, Tom Brady whining, can you believe it?).
Then he starts chirping at Lattimore. Lattimore barks back. Leonard Fournette gets involved (you can take the man out of NOLA, but not NOLA out of the man) Mike Evans comes flying off the sidelines to hit Lattimore, because they got beef. Marcus Maye is involved?
And in a dream world, the Saints use that emotion and momentum, and it carries them to a rousing victory.
Instead, Jameis Winston throws a couple of picks, including a pick six. Mark Ingram fumbles and the Bucs stomp the Saints 20-10.
We get the first real sign that Dennis Allen is not Sean Payton. Just before halftime the Saints have a chance to go for it on fourth down near midfield. Instead, they meekly let the clock run down and punt. Remember how sometimes the now Denver Broncos coach would be almost reckless in his approach? Calling timeouts that ostensibly help the other team? Skol clapping at the Vikings (we should probably forget that one). Well, fortune favors the bold. It doesn’t always work in your favor, but in order to be a winner, first, act like a winner. The Saints punted. They didn’t win.
The Saints defensive line was much better than it was in Week 1 against the Falcons, but never get much of a pass rush on Brady, even though he’s 67-years old and can’t move.
Alvin Kamara didn’t play with a rib injury. Dwayne Washington gets some carries. So does Tony Jones Jr.
The offensive line is better, but again there are big issues with blitz pickup. It’s impossible to know if it’s the O-Line who is not adjusting – or just not good enough – or Winston not recognizing the blitz and adjusting on the fly.
This is the game where Winston throws deep for Chris Olave a bunch of times and never connects.
Taysom Hill has one running play where he’s trapped behind the line and is basically never used again.
Whenever Jameis’ feet are moving in the pocket – which is often – the throw is usually off target.
Michael Thomas looks good. Again.
This game was there for the Saints in the first half. They were in control, but the offense couldn’t get out of its own way. Did the Saints win the fight? Who cares. They lost the game and their Brady mojo. It would get worse on the trip to Tampa later in the year.
Offenses rule the NFL. We know that. You can’t hit the quarterback and all that. But one of the other hidden reasons why offenses can’t be stopped is because of everyone running pick plays all the time, announcers call them “rub routes” where the wide receiver accidentally/intentionally rubs into the defensive back covering another wide receiver, giving him open space. The Bucs do this more than anyone. It should be illegal. It technically is illegal, but it’s never called. People love points. The NFL loves viewers.
What we thought then:
The refs jobbed us. Brady always whines. The offense missed Kamara, but Olave and Jameis have some chemistry! Just need to get timing down.
Alontae Taylor made his debut, doing some trash talking and putting his nose in the mix. Positive signs for the rookie. As much as we wanted Deonte Hardy to provide a spark, he didn’t.
Saints MVP for the game:
Tough to pick one for this game. Olave had a big game, but then fumbled in the fourth quarter after a long catch, even though it still seemed like the ground caused the fumble, but he never ‘completed the catch’ or whatever. Pete Werner had eight tackles.
A Week 3 road trip to face Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers with a coach everyone says is about to get fired. It's a ‘get right’ week!