NEW ORLEANS — From a miracle 4th quarter in week 1 to a fourth quarter meltdown in week 2, the 2022 New Orleans Saints went from performing marvels in Atlanta to driving the car in the ditch and having it catch fire against Tom Brady and Buccaneers.
Walking out of the Caesar's Superdome, it felt strange to say a 3-3 football game with eight minutes left felt like a complete calamity but it did. The Saints turned the ball over on offense five times in the second half. The Saints offense's first five possessions of the second half were punt, fumble, interception, interception returned for a touchdown, and interception. You won't see a NFL team play a stretch of worse offensive football in 2022.
The Saints for five straight possessions stepped on every rake and fell down every stair case. The most bizarre thing about the roof collapsing in on the Saints in the 2nd half was it began so well. After the Bucs tied the game at 3, the Saints had a 9 play, 64-yard drive where the Saints looked sharp running and throwing. Then Mark Ingram fumbled and the Saints offense entered a turnover death spiral. Jameis Winston played poorly but he looked to me exactly like a guy with 4 broken bones in his back would look trying to play in a NFL game. Reports came out Sunday morning Winston had four fractures in his back but had no risk of further injury. I guess Winston's back is like my liver -- that which is broken can not be broken any further?
Jameis likely won't last if the hits keep piling up
Full credit to Jameis for making no excuses after the game with the injury. When asked about how his back felt he said, “It feels like my back,” and his stare, I believe, melted the soul of whoever asked him the question. Jameis is on pace to get sacked 85 times in 2022, and while I'm not a doctor, I wouldn't recommend that for any quarterback, especially one with four fractures in his back and coming off a reconstructed knee and a sprained foot.
Jameis isn't going to last past Halloween getting sacked five times a week. Sacks of course aren't solely on the quarterback, but history tells us quarterbacks who avoid sacks usually do so wherever they play and whatever the quality of their offensive line.
Tom Brady only got sacked once against the Saints on Sunday and he was playing behind an offensive line of mostly cardboard boxes and folding chairs. With Jameis the focus is always on the turnovers but the sacks are killing the Saints offense and breaking his body. It has to stop or the Saints 2022 season is going to end like 2021-- with multiple quarterbacks playing and delivering disappointment. The offense didn't feel hopeless yesterday even though they only had 3 points deep into the fourth quarter, it felt like I was watching a car that needed a tuneup. Winston missed open receivers and especially failed to cash in on big play opportunities with rookie receiver Chris Olave. The good news is Michael Thomas looks all the way back and Mark Ingram ran incredibly well until his fumble. Tampa has an incredible defense and once the Saints fell behind 13-3 the Bucs were able to unleash the full fury of their pass rush.
There's a decent offense hidden under the avalanche of turnovers. While the Saints offense has lots of issues to solve, the Saints defense once again had Tom Brady confused, angry, and doing violence to Microsoft tablets. Tampa managed just 260 yards of offense and averaged just 2.4 yards a rush on 30 attempts.
Refs didn't cost us the game but didn't help us
The Saints defense bounced back after a poor showing in Atlanta and looked more like we are accustomed to. By the way, linebacker Pete Werner is looking more and more like a special player. He had eight total tackles and a pass defended. The Saints continue to get good players from their official farm team, Ohio St. University. You probably want to talk about the officiating. Do we have to? It was a travesty.
The officials explanation as to why they ejected Mike Evans and Marshon Lattimore but Leonard Fournette, who instigated the entire thing, wasn't even penalized made as much sense as my son explaining why he ate an entire bag of Oreos.
Here's part of the transcript from the interview done by Pro Football Writers Association pool reporter Luke Johnson with NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson Question: Why was Leonard Fournette, who instigated this, not penalized? Were you able to talk to the officials about this? Answer: Rule 19 allows us to end up looking at the potential for other players to be disqualified. We just did not feel like those actions rose to the level of disqualification. Walt, that's not what you were asked. He didn't ask about disqualification. He asked about being penalized. If you can't comprehend questions, you once again prove the NFL officiating is incompetent and we are done here.
Also Marshon Lattimore living rent free in Mike Evans head will always be hilarious. At the end of the day the Saints are 1-1 and probably fortunate not to be winless. First year Saints coach Dennis Allen suddenly has an offense that's had 7 bad quarters out of the 8 they've played and a quarterback who's plating hurt. Week 3 in Carolina suddenly feels enormous for Jameis and the 2022 Saints.
Ralph Malbrough is a contributing writer and Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at @SaintsForecast or download the Saints Happy Hour Podcast.