NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints have committed the most turnovers and second most penalties in the NFL in 2022, and their special teams rank last by Football Outsiders advanced stats if you are so inclined to prefer complicated math with your football. The Saints have been nothing short of a debacle in 2022.
If you told me the above paragraph was going to happen to the Saints the opening month of the season, I'd probably have wished for a time machine to travel back to the spring and steal Saints GM Mickey Loomis' cellphone when he was trading away the Saints 2023 first round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Unfortunately, time machines, like competent NFL officiating, are yet to exist so we are simply left to wonder who is to blame for the Saints ghastly performance and can it be corrected before the 2022 season falls into the abyss of sadness and paper bag wearing decisions?
The negative view of things is Saints head coach Dennis Allen is in over his head and the penalties and turnovers are a direct reflection of coaching. We credit and blame coaches for almost anything, especially things we don't understand or have an obvious explanation for. My coffee was terrible this morning, and I blame Dennis Allen. Is that rational? It's no less rational than believing Sean Payton had some sort of magic wand that prevented Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram from having game changing fumbles. Alvin Kamara had 1,297 career carries and receptions heading into Week 3 vs Carolina. He had fumbled seven times in his career up to that point. Alvin Kamara doesn't fumble 99.5% of the time he has the ball. The odds of Kamara fumbling and having it returned for a touchdown, like he did in Carolina, are roughly the same odds of winning the Power Ball.
That's bad luck to the power of 10. You wanna blame Dennis Allen for the penalties? The penalties haven't just become an issue since Dennis Allen became head coach. The Saints have been officiated differently since Bill Vinovich ruined lives. The fantastic Jeff Asher of AH Datalytics crunched the numbers and you can be like me and wear the conspiracy tinfoil hat or you can blame the Saints for being an undisciplined mess. Just know the Saints penalty problem didn't start with Dennis Allen. So maybe the Saints ugly start isn't all Dennis Allen's fault, but 1-3 is still bad, and the Saints are failing behind in a horrid NFC, so can they turn things around? I'd argue yes they can. The nightmarish fumble luck should even out over the course of 17 games and maybe the officials arms will get tired of throwing penalties flags on the Saints?
Dennis Allen biggest mistake of 2022 was he played an injured Jameis Winston against Carolina when he had visual evidence from the week before against Tampa. Winston should not have been playing. Besides that, the biggest concern with the Allen coached Saints is the special teams are a disaster. Every single part of the kicking game is bad. Wil Lutz is only 4 of 7 on field goals, Blake Gillikin seemingly every other punt is out kicking the coverage leading to a big return. Oh and the Saints are committing special teams penalties and getting tricked by fake punts in situations the fake punt is as obvious as powdered sugar on a beignet.
I can explain almost everything wrong with the 2022 Saints except the special teams collapsing. Darren Rizzi is regarded as one of the best special teams coaches in the NFL. The Saints thought so highly of him, they interviewed him for the head coaching vacancy. The Saints aren't good enough to lose the turnover battle, stink on special teams, and average 8.5 penalties a game. No team is. This isn't so much a defense of Dennis Allen as it just seems like the Saints are being hit with everything bad all at once. Bad luck, bad officiating, bad injuries, and bad coaching decisions. 2022 is feeling more and more like some unavoidable football tragedy where everyone will point to their one particular thing of choice which destroyed everything, when in reality it was simply a cascade of terrible things where changing one thing wouldn't make the final result avoidable. It's going to take an incredible coaching job to save the 2022 Saints, and fair or not, Dennis Allen has to be incredible. We wish you the best of luck because heaven knows so far you haven't had any luck at all so far.
Saints Fans Mood & Meditation Music: My Own Soul's Warning – The Killers We are trying to ignore all the signs the Saints season is falling apart aren't we? Jameis' broken back, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara injured again, the bad breaks, and worse officiating. It's the darkest timeline. But in the end, something just didn't feel right
Oh, I tried running from the memory and the mourning
But the penalty kept on pouring Just ignore the warnings and hope for the best on Sunday. It's all we can do.
The Games Last Week: 4-1 Season: 12-8
Seattle (+6) at New Orleans: This line is completely ridiculous. How are the Saints favored by a touchdown over any team, especially when we don't even know who the Saints will start at quarterback? The good news for the Saints is the Seahawks defense is so bad it might not matter who Dennis Allen puts under center.
Seattle gives up 28.8 points-per-game and 438 yards-per-game. They just gave up 45 to the Detriot Lions. Seattle is 2-2 on the strength of Geno Smith having a career year at quarterback. Geno is having the season Saints fans hoped Jameis could deliver. Smith has thrown for 1,037 yards, 6 touchdown, and 2 interceptions for a QB rating of 108. He's shredded some terrible defenses. Must be nice.
I want to tell you I think Dennis Allen will coax the Saints best performance out of them in a must win game. I really do. I just don't see any reason for that except delusional optimism. At the moment I'm all out. The 2022 Saints season feels like it's always a different disaster every week. This week it'll be the defense. Seahawks 35-31
Atlanta (+8.5) at Tampa Bay: It might only take 9 wins to claim the NFC South. I want to punch a wall. Tampa 23-16
Indianapolis (+3) at Denver: The Broncos lose this game and Mickey Loomis is going to have incoming calls from the 303 area code wanting to talk about Sean Payton. Colts 20-16 San Francisco (-6.5) at Carolina: How did the Saints lose to Matt Rhule and Baker Mayfield? How? 49ers 34-13
Dallas (+4.5) at Los Angeles Rams: The Rams looking terrible eases my Saints pain by like 10% because I hate the Rams that much. Cowboys 27-20
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.