Know Your Enemy; How The Saints Matchup Against The Falcons Pt. One

September 6, 2022

The Know Your Enemy series will be weekly series breaking down who has the advantage at each position group in all the Saints matchups this season. In week one The Saints are entering as the favorite against the division rival Falcons. In part one, I will show why the offense is a big reason why.

How do the Saints and Falcons match up ahead of the two team’s Week One battle? In the first installment of this weekly series, we’re taking a look at each team’s offensive position groups to determine who has the edge on paper ahead of the game.

Evaluating The Saints And Falcons Offenses Ahead Of Week One

Quarterback (QB)

Saints

  • Jameis Winston
  • Andy Dalton
  • Taysom Hill (emergency)

Falcons

  • Marcus Mariota
  • Desmond Ridder

The first overall pick and second overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft headline this group. Both have had unconventional ways of getting here, but both are the Week One starter for their respective teams. Winston played well last season, with his pass catchers letting him down. This should not be the case this season with Michael Thomas back and the additions of Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry. Mariota has not played much football over the last three seasons and when he did last play it was fairly underwhelming.

Trusty veteran Andy Dalton and Rookie Desmond Ridder are the backups. Dalton has had a solid camp and shown he’s more than capable of running this offense. Ridder had a fairly good preseason and I was a big fan of Ridder coming out of Cincinnati and could see a reason for the Saints to take him in the draft. However, at this stage, Dalton is the better NFL QB.

Despite moving to the Tight End room, Taysom Hill is still technically third on the depth chart at quarterback for the Saints. He’s also fared well in games against the Falcons. In three games Hill has completed 52 of 69 for 572 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. All in all, I’d say the Saints have a much deeper QB room currently. Although I am very interested to see how Ridder progresses.

Advantage Saints

Running Back

Saints

  • Alvin Kamara
  • Mark Ingram
  • Dwayne Washington
  • Tony Jones JR
  • Adam Prentice (Fullback)

Falcons

  • Cordarrelle Patterson
  • Damien Williams
  • Tyler Allgeier
  • Avery Williams
  • Keith Smith (Fullback)

The Saints will have Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram leading the charge. They are a perfect complement to one another, with Kamara who is a menace on outside runs and as a pass catcher, and Ingram providing the grit on inside runs and in pass protection. Kamara has had one of his best camps since joining the Saints according to head coach Dennis Allen and all reports suggest that Mark Ingram is looking nimble and powerful despite reaching an age where running backs start to tail off.

Not to be outdone, the Falcons have a diverse backfield led by a resurgent Cordarrelle Patterson, who will play all over the formation. He will work plenty out of the backfield as well as out wide. Patterson is more than capable as a receiver as the Saints found out last season when he beat Paulson Adebo on a deep ball late in last season’s meeting.

Behind him is seven-year veteran Damien Willaims and fifth-round rookie Tyler Allgeier who will both vie for carries. I see a case for Allgeier to emerge as the primary backup and to play the more physical between the tackles back to compliment Patterson.

For the Saints, the third running back spot is between Washington and Jones. Washington has been a special teams standout every year since joining the Saints and has proven serviceable in a limited role on offense. This is a part of his game he has been trying to change this off-season. Whereas Jones has shown the ability this offseason and last, Jones seems to be a powerful one-cut runner with upside in the screen game and in pass blocking.

Avery Williams completes the Falcons’ depth chart at running back. The converted defensive back plays a lot on special teams as a returner. After only switching to RB this offseason it is impressive that managed to make the 53-man roster.

Both teams are carrying full backs. I’m not going to pretend I know who’s better but I certainly do enjoy watching Adam Prentice bulldoze open holes for the Saints’ backs. Based on the Saints’ top two backs being stronger, especially Kamara I’d say this round goes to the Saints as well.

Advantage Saints

Wide Receiver

Saints

  • Michael Thomas
  • Jarvis Landry
  • Chris Olave
  • Deonte Harty
  • Marquez Callaway
  • Tre’Quan Smith

Falcons

  • Drake London
  • Bryan Edwards
  • Olamide Zaccheaus
  • Damiere Byrd
  • KhaDarek Hodge
  • Jared Bernhardt

This is one of the easiest position groups to rank. Even if Drake London turns into what draft experts expect the Saints have an incredible top 3 with Michael Thomas returning to what appears to be at least 85% of pre-injury form. With Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry providing an incredible second and third option. Olave is the true wildcard here, he should be a threat at all three levels and provide Jameis with a top-tier deep threat. If he lives up to the potential, the Saints will have the best wide receiver corps in the league.

The Falcons WRs outside of London are bleak. Bryan Edwards is slated to start on the outside opposite London.  Raiders beat writers had been cooing about Bryan Edwards during his time with the team. However, his potential never came fully to fruition. Both he and Demiere Byrd have shown they can be a solid third or fourth option, but the Falcons do seem to be missing a true number two receiver. Well, the option isn’t listed at WR anyway.

The Saints’ bottom three WR options ironically were the tea top three last season, showing the great depth New Orleans has managed to assemble at the position this season. Callaway was the Number One WR last season and drew many team’s top corners. Callaway still managed to produce, and this season will have the benefit of facing the opposing team’s third and fourth corners. Harty provides all-pro return ability, with his elite short-area quickness, and pure deep speed. This could be Tre’Quan Smith’s last chance to prove he should be on this roster going forward, he’s still a more than solid sixth WR with plus run blocking skills.

Atlanta’s depth chart finished off with Olamide Zaccheaus and Jared Bernhardt. Zaccheaus has proved slippery against the Saints in the past and has generally been good for one/two big catches a game when the two teams have faced. Bernhardt, on the other hand, I’ll admit, I know nothing about it, and has quite an interesting story. After going from a top lacrosse player to making an NFL roster as WR, he is pretty impressive and has worked previously  see Chris Hogan) more on Bernhardt’s journey here: How college lacrosse’s top player became a rookie free-agent signing with the Atlanta Falcons – Atlanta Falcons Blog- ESPN

Overall, this is a landslide for the Saints, with a better top three and way more depth.

Advantage Saints

Tight End

Saints

  • Adam Trautman
  • Taysom Hill
  • Juwan Johnson
  • Nick Vannett

Falcons

  • Kyle Pitts
  • Parker Hesse
  • Felipe Franks

Unless the reported improvement to Adam Trautman’s game comes to fruition, the Saints don’t seem to have a number one tight end. Trautman has shown flashes in the passing game and is more than a solid blocker, but consistency has been his biggest issue. This is the year for Trautman to prove himself.

Taysom Hill has committed to learning the tight end role as his focus shifts away from the quarterback position. Unfortunately, his offseason growth in his new position was stunted by injury. Hill will still end up being a good weapon for this team and my main worry for him is staying on the field.

Tight ends three and four for New Orleans are Juwan Johnson who I believe could breakout this season as a flex TE (read more about why in my article- Three Saints Players That Could Breakout In 2022 (whodathype.com) and Nick Vannett is an asset with his run and pass blocking and can be okay catching passes.

Unlike the Saints, Atlanta does possess an elite player at this position, in Kyle Pitts. Is Pitts a TE? Well, that can be argued, the same as it was argued with the Saints’ own Jimmy Graham way back when. Either way, the Falcons list him as one and he is a special talent. He’s not going to give you a huge amount of blocking, but he is a stud catching passes all over the formation, not just against Linebackers like other TEs but Pitts can succeed against the team’s number one corners; not many TEs can do that.

Two and three on the Falcons’ depth are relative unknowns for me, Hesse has spent time with the Titans and Falcons and featured in 8 games for Falcons last season. This is his second year since converting to TE after playing defensive line in college and has clearly impressed enough this offseason to earn a spot.

 They say imitation is the nicest form of flattery, well that seems to be the case for converted TE Felipe Franks, a mobile QB coming out of college who’s not transitioning to TE, sound familiar? Who knows what role Franks will exactly play, but I am interested to see how he is deployed.

With Atlanta boosting the only elite talent as it stands at the position, ill give this one to them.

Advantage Falcons

Offensive Line

Saints

  • James Hurst       
  • Andrus Peat      
  • Erik McCoy        
  • Cesar Ruiz           
  • Ryan Ramczyk  
  • Landon Young
  • Calvin Throckmorton
  • Lewis Kidd
  • Tanner Owen

Falcons

  • Jake Matthews                
  • Elijah Wilkinson
  • Matt Hennessy                
  • Chris Lindstrom                
  • Kaleb McGary   
  • Germain Ifedi
  • Chuma Edoga
  • Drew Dalman    
  • Colby Gossett   

The Saints have better starters at three out of the five spots, right tackle, center, and left guard. Maybe even four spots if right guard Cesar Ruiz does take a forward step in this development this season. I’d say Jake Matthews is a stronger option at left tackle right now than James Hurst, debate could be interesting when Trevor Penning eventually works his way into the line-up. Drew Dalman, a fourth-round pick from the 2021 draft was active for all 17 games last season but did not end up starting any is the new starting center for the Falcons after beating out 2020 third-round pick Matt Hennessy.

There is solid depth behind the Saints starters, Landon Young improved significantly this offseason and could be the primary backup for both tackle spots, after playing most of the offseason at RT and seeing game time last season at LT.  Calvin Throckmorton, did well enough when he was thrust into starting snaps last season, rookie Lewis Kidd impressed Saints coaches throughout the summer and was the only rookie undrafted free agent to make the Saints 53. The last spot is held by Tanner Owen who was claimed off waivers after roster cutdowns from Buffalo after a solid preseason.

A former first-round pick leads the Falcons’ depth players. Germain Ifedi should be the backup tackle, with guard versatility.  Ifedi has started 83 games over six NFL seasons for Seattle and Chicago at guard and tackle but predominantly RT. Chuma Edoga was a popular player on waivers and towards the end of the offseason with rumors swirling that the Cowboys wanted to trade for Edoga before roster cutdowns, that didn’t materialize and he ended up being claimed by Atlanta.

The interior depth is finished off with three-year journeyman Colby Gossett, who has been a part of five total franchises in his three-year NFL career so far and

With a much better starting five and more proven NFL depth behind them, I give the Saints the win here.

Advantage Saints

With all of the offense position groups stacked against each other, the Saints came out on top. Out of five position groups, I’d say the Saints are better at four of them.

This is part one, later in the week, I will do the same exercise with the defense and special teams. So keep your eyes peeled at Who Dat Hype – Unapologetically Fearless Saints Coverage and my Twitter @SaintsReportUK for part two.

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