Welcome everyone to another edition of #4Downs where I break down what went right and what went wrong for the New Orleans Saints! This week, I look at the Saints loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
1st Down: Too Little Too Late
Sometimes you’ve got to give this New Orleans Saints team credit. No matter how out of reach the game is, they will try and make it competitive. However, it felt like this game was a prime example of one team going into coast mode and allowing the other team to get back in it. Atlanta could have won in decisive fashion if they had just kept playing well in the second half. Instead, we saw another Saints game filled with false hopes.
2nd Down: Defensive Struggles Still Existent
The storyline for the Saints the last three seasons has been a defense that is inefficient and is towards the bottom of the rankings. While the Saints aren’t at the bottom of the barrel (they’re ranked 27th in yards allowed per game), the issues that have plagued the Saints are still there. There was an inability to wrap up tackles, get through the offensive line, and blown coverages. The second half was very different, but the first half saw the Falcons score at will and do so in quick fashion with only one scoring drive lasting more than five minutes. It will be a point of emphasis in the offseason.
3rd Down: Stat Padding
The Saints were able to keep it competitive on Sunday afternoon despite the game holding next to no meaning for them. One big reason seems to be that the offense wanted to pad their stats before the clock struck triple zeros. They ended up having Michael Thomas shatter every rookie receiving record, Mark Ingram pass 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career, and Drew Brees eclipse the 5,000 yard mark for the fifth time in his career. They also ended up being the second team in league history to have two 1,000 receivers, 1,000 yard running back, and 5,000 yard QB. Take note as to who the other team was: the Denver Broncos from 2013. That team went 13-3 and made it to the Super Bowl because of great performances on both sides of the ball. This team just went 7-9 for the fourth time in five seasons and has nothing to show for it except stats.
4th Down: Intriguing Next Few Months
The next few months (maybe the next few weeks) for the New Orleans Saints franchise will be one to watch. Amidst the rumors of Sean Payton being traded and all the vacant head coaching positions, this offseason will be one that could shape the franchise for years to come. If the right moves aren’t made depending what happens in the coming months, then prepare for more of the same. The Saints have fallen back into the bottom level of their division quickly thanks in large part to poor drafting, poor scouting in free agency, and too much dead money has crippled a franchise that is only six years removed from a Super Bowl win.