The New Orleans Saints’ week 2 matchup against the Carolina Panthers resulted in a 20-17 win for New Orleans. While it was definitely a hard-fought victory, starting off the season 2-0 is impressive, nonetheless. With that, we continue our weekly series by choosing one player who broke out in the previous game, and going over why their contributions were so critical to the game.
This week we have a player entering their second season with the Saints, who has proven to be one of the best up-and-coming players at his position. This week we have wide receiver Chris Olave as the breakout player of the game, and here’s why:
Efficiency when given opportunities
One of the things that jump off the page about Chris Olave is his ability to turn both good and bad passes into receptions and gather YAC like nobody’s business. On Monday night, he more focused on the prior, hauling in the ball whenever it came anywhere near him. His six receptions on eleven targets are deceiving, as many did not hit their mark or were batted away.
On those six receptions, however, he averaged 14.3 yards per catch. Having nearly 100 yards in the game (86 total) on only 6 receptions is pretty exceptional work, especially considering Derek Carr was trying to get quick completions most of the night considering the Panthers’ pass rush was creating havoc.
The main reason Olave is getting breakout player of the week is because he not only made consistent plays, but he made one play in particular that was worth noting more than others. We all know which play that was. With the offense struggling mightily, and both teams stuck in a deadlock with 6 points each in the 3rd quarter, something or someone needed to give the Saints’ offense a boost that could propel them forward. That was Chris Olave this week.
On 3rd and 7 at the Saints’ 37-yard line, the Saints dialed up a deep pass along the sideline, giving Chris Olave the chance to go one-on-one with CJ Henderson. Olave got grabbed pretty significantly by Henderson at the top of the route, but he still was able to get just a slight bit of separation, and what happened next was just mind-boggling. Olave reached out one-handed, tapped the ball up to himself, and then brought it in while falling forward to the ground.
This catch single-handedly (pun intended) shifted the momentum into the Saints’ favor, as they would go on to score the first touchdown of the game on the back of this drive.
Overall, the Saints offense had a tough night, to say the least leading up to this point. But Olave was able to create enough of a spark to get the offense moving and get the Saints ahead in this crucial week 2 matchup. While many players made huge impacts, Olave’s consistent contributions during the game on top of his spectacular catch make him this week’s breakout player.