Welcome everyone to the latest edition of #4Downs where I break down what went right and what went wrong for the New Orleans Saints! This week, it’s the Saints loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
1st Down: Penalty Bug Strikes Again
If there’s one thing the Saints had been good at this season, it was keeping the amount of yellow flags they had against them low. This wasn’t one of those games as they had 13 penalties for a whopping 104 yards. This was especially bad because the Saints had extended the Bucs drives with five of those. The momentum they had at the end of the half was partially derailed because of a false start. This was the second week in a row that they had double digit penalties accepted and even last week, those penalties didn’t give teams a breath of life like this week’s did.
2nd Down: Brees Ineffective Yet Again
Drew Brees has been one of more prolific passers in NFL history, but the tail end of his career will be looked at as being stuck in mediocrity. For the second straight game, Drew Brees didn’t throw a touchdown and was picked off three times. He hasn’t had consecutive games with those stats in his career. The underwhelming performance of this offense is all because of Brees and in turn what Sean Payton has done with this offense. Look back at the Super Bowl season. Brees didn’t throw a touchdown for two straight games early in the season but still won because they had a strong run game that complimented what the passing game could do.
3rd Down: Payton’s Playcalling Kills Momentum
Sean Payton has been a big point of contention among Saints fans the last couple of years and this will be one that the detractors will be pointing to and it’s perfectly justified. Within about a minute, the Saints would get it within eight points with a field goal and a safety thanks to a special teams snafu that even Marcus Murphy shook his head at. The Saints were driving down the field and had a shot to get it within a couple of points before the half. However, some poor playcalling led to the Saints only getting three points out of it. The momentum swung towards the Saints and it seemed like Payton pushed it right back into the hands of the Buccaneers.
4th Down: Defense Lone Bright Spot
It’s another week where the offense looked like they were sleepwalking and the defense did everything they could to have a snowball’s chance of winning this game. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Playing that well without Kenny Vacarro was refreshing, but the second half performance was admirable as they were without Delvin Breaux for a solid chunk of the game due to a shoulder injury. The secondary may be a bunch of guys picked up off the street, they are showing tons of potential and that could be a great sign going forward for this team.