Welcome everyone to the latest edition of #4Downs where we break down the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the New Orleans Saints. This week, we look at their thrilling 30-28 victory over the Houston Texans
1st Down: Pass Rush Shines in Opener
Headed into the season opener, it felt like the New Orleans Saints defensive line was going to be a question mark with several players being unavailable for Monday night including Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata. Even without those stars, the pass rush was nothing short of spectacular, sacking Deshaun Watson six times. Trey Hendrickson looked great as he begins his third season with the black and gold, racking up two sacks for a total of 17 yards.
A lot of that could be due to the Texans offensive line getting shuffled a week before the season opener in their trade with the Miami Dolphins for former Ole Miss product Laremy Tunsil, but it was a bad look for the Texans offense in week one.
2nd Down: JJ Watt Kept at Bay
Ryan Ramczyk is a grown man. The Saints offensive tackle did something not many NFL teams have been able to do and that was put JJ Watt’s stat sheet on a milk carton. Go pull up the box for the Saints-Texans game and his name doesn’t show up in the defensive statistics. This has never happened in any of the previous 105 games of his career.
The Saints O-Line didn’t completely shut down the defense with instances where Brees was pressured consistently but stopping a two-time defensive player of the year is a step in the right direction.
3rd Down: Third Down Defense Poor
Yes, the third-down conversion percentage was only 54 percent for the Texans, but the biggest issue was the number of big plays allowed on third down. During the Texans’ final drive of the first half, they put together a methodical 16-play drive that resulted in seven points. That had five third downs that were five yards or more. The one that really caught people’s attention was a third and 11 that resulted in a 13-yard connection with Deandre Hopkins.
Week one was a victory for the Saints, but losing the third-down battle the way they did was unreal.
4th Down: Rookie Mistakes
You expect to see the rookies on the Saints have mistakes but in a hotly contested season opener, those errors become magnified. In the case of Deonte Harris, two of his mistakes could have been huge with him taking a punt from inside the 10-yard-line and another where he returned a punt where he had already given the fair catch signal.
Harris may have shined in the preseason with that phenomenal punt return, but mistakes like that could derail the undrafted rookie with an experienced returner like Marcus Sherels right behind him.
Extra Point: Saints Fans Are the Best Fans
The Saints fans will never get over the NOLA No-Call and may have even more of an issue after the time ran off at the end of the first half. The NFL addressed the issue after the game and owned up to the issue, but Who Dat Nation had the final say on Monday night.
Saints fans are ready with their refs gear on LMAOOOO! Man…. pic.twitter.com/dFOPx7UX4r
— #BOOMIN (@ftbeard_17) September 9, 2019