NEW ORLEANS — The Saints bye week comes at a good time. I mean, sure, the team has a bunch of nagging injuries and a week off should help get a lot of the guys well, but I mean for me. I need a week to recover from that wild, rollercoaster game Monday night.
Here are the four biggest takeaways from that game.
- The play of Emmanuel Sanders. ESPN highlighted him an awful lot and you could take video of Sanders from Monday night and teach a class on route running. He stopped and started like a dancer. He was targeted 14 times and caught 12 of them for 122 yards. It was his 22nd 100-yard game in the NFL, but, in 11 years in the league he had never caught that many passes in one game.
- The pass rush was ferocious. Cam Jordan had his most active game of the season with 10 tackles, 3 of them for losses. Trey Hendrickson had a sack and a half and three quarterback hits. Altogether the Saints had three sacks, eight tackles for loss and 12 quarterback hits. Those combined shots on Justin Herbert did make a difference by the fourth quarter.
- The Drew Brees question still lingers. Although the offense was significantly better in the second half, in the team’s first six possessions – over 28 minutes of the game, the Saints offense had produced a field goal, four punts and a turnover. The quarterback rating of 14.6 and his body language looked like a guy who just didn’t have any confidence. Then, right as I was thinking the Saints might need to make a change at quarterback, Brees said ‘not so fast.’ He leapt into the endzone at the end of the half and things seemed to turn around. In their last seven possessions the Saints offense produced three touchdowns, two field goals and two punts. Brees’ final quarterback rating was a solid 98.3. He hit on two passes down the field to Jared Cook and to Alvin Kamara. It’s not the offense we’ve been used to though. Right now the Saints are 15th in the NFL in total offense but it’s been good enough the past two weeks.
- The Saints got lucky. Charger kicker Mike Badgley had a 50-yard attempt at the end of regulation to win it. NFL kickers should make that kick. Badgley didn’t and the Chargers are now 1-4. The Saints first five games have been defined by mental breakdowns and Monday there was Patrick Robinson failing to cover his man on a long touchdown pass that broke a 20-20 tie and there was Dwayne Washington’s roughing the punter penalty that gave the Chargers new life on a first half drive. Super Bowl teams don’t make this many mistakes. Since 2017 the Saints have been terrific in the second quarter of the season. But, at least so far, compared to 2017, 18 and 19, those teams just looked better. There were not the same level of mistakes. With each of those teams I thought getting to the Super Bowl was a real possibility. I don’t know if I believe that about this year’s team – at least not yet. But, that’s the good thing. The Saints haven’t put it together and yet they’re 3-2 and in a first place tie in the NFC South.