The New Orleans Saints followed up an improbable, miracle win in San Diego with probably the most 'Saintsy' win we will see all year.
What is a 'Saintsy' win? A win where the Saints play as little defense as possible and still win the game. For example, the Saints 52-49 win against the New York Giants rates a perfect 10.0 on the 'Saintsy Win' scale.
The Saints 41-38 win against the Carolina Panthers rates a 9.5 because the Saints did have an interception, held the Panthers to 3.8 yards per rush, only allowed 3 of 11 third down conversions, and sacked Cam Newton twice, so the Saints did actually play some defense Sunday, you just need a microscope or grade on a WIDE curve to locate it.
Also in any 'Saintsy' win, anything less than magnificent Drew Brees quarterbacking means they would have lost. Brees threw for 465 yards and four touchdowns, and the Saints needed every last bit of it. He had 1 bad throw all day. He did all this playing behind the Saints third-string offensive tackle, as Andrus Peat left in the second quarter with a leg injury. His replacement, Tony Hills, held up ok except for one disastrous series.
The Saints offense was in full, 'gas pedal down' mode as Sean Payton sometimes calls it. The Saints ran a tight end end-around for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, ten different players caught a pass, and Brees threw the ball 49 times. The Saints didn't really run the ball much, but I can't decide if it was because they couldn't, or they just didn't feel like it because passing all over the Panthers was way more fun.
The Saints offense is averaging 35.6 points at home, they are a killing machine, and are really fun to watch. Brandin Cooks is an absolute terror going deep and had a marvelous Sunday with 173 yards on seven catches. Teams like Carolina, who are a mess in the secondary, have no shot to slow the Saints down.
While the Saints offense might be as hard to stop through the air as it's ever been, the defense is well...the Saints defense. The Saints gave up 406 yards of offense, 32 first downs, 21 points in the fourth quarter for the second time this year, and yet still managed to win.
What does it say about the Saints defense when we never felt even a little bit relaxed when they led 21-0? I was excited, don't get me wrong, but not for a second did I believe Carolina wouldn't make a game of it.
As fans, we are captives of this terrible Saints defense going on three years now. I wonder sometimes when I point out good things the Saints defense does whenever they give up over 30 points if I'm suffering from some sort of football Stockholm syndrome. Stockholm syndrome is defined as “feelings of trust or affection felt in certain cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor.” Celebrating an end zone interception and two sacks like major accomplishments on Twitter has to be some sort of psychological issue. I probably need therapy.
At least the Saints aren't pretending everything is getting better on defense. Kenny Vaccaro said after the game the defense won't get Monday off and will be watching film.
"We won the game, but I don’t have a good taste in my mouth."
Don't feel too bad Kenny, the three pass interference calls in the end zone contributed greatly to the problems, and the one by you on a fourth down is completely baffling. I have no idea what pass interference is, neither do any of you, and neither do the actual referees apparently. Through five games, 2016 Saints have won and lost games by one point, won and lost games on last second field goals, and got blown out one time. If you look at the big picture, 2-3 is exactly where they deserve to be.
I'm actually enjoying the 2016 Saints a lot more than I expected. You might be screaming at your computer screen, “Ralph, I'm tired of opposing offenses scoring at will! I want competent defense!”
And I want a pony.
These are the 2016 New Orleans Saints. They aren't going to get much better on defense, because even when Sheldon Rankins arrives and Delvin Breaux returns, getting to bad is going to be like climbing a mountain. They've had so many injuries at corner, they have come full circle and are back to playing Brian Dixon at corner. Dixon is a fine special teams player, who has carved out a career in the NFL, but playing him at corner is...sub-optimal.
The 2016 New Orleans Saints aren't very good, but at least they aren't boring.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at iTunes.
(© 2016 WWL)