The Saints lost another heart-breaker to the Vikings on Sunday. However, there were certainly some players who stood out positively and of course some more negatively. Let’s take a look at three players trending and three trending down after Week Four.
Three Saints Trending Up
Cameron Jordan (DE)
Cam has been off to a slow start again this year but, if Sunday is anything to go by then that could be changing.
Jordan was a menace on Sunday. He shared a sack with Davenport (who also had a great game) and was around the Quarterback all game. Along with his shared sack, Jordan also had two other QB hits and 3 other pressures.
One that forced Cousins to step up into DT Kentavius Street for a sack, another that forced an intentional grounding penalty, and one more that forced a throw away by Cousins that was dodgy, it was lucky for the Vikings a Saints player wasn’t quite in the area otherwise it could have easily been picked.
Jordan’s disruption didn’t stop there. PFF has him charted as making 4 defensive stops in the run game. Jordan stood out against the run all game. It was clear even from watching the game live in the stadium. Felt like he was constantly making the play on the running back and if he didn’t he was close by.
If Cam is this dominant every week then this Saints defense is going to take over games not just because of sticky coverage but because of a dominant pass rush. Jordan now only needs 7.5 more sacks to take the lead as the Saints all-time franchise leader in sacks.
Cesar Ruiz (RG)
It’s not very often you see RG Cesar Ruiz on the right side of one of these lists so far in his Saints career. However, things seem to be improving for the third-year player out of Michigan.
Ruiz has strung together two of his best games as a Saint so far this season, first against Tampa, proof of that in this thread by o-line expert Brandon Thorn on Twitter. Brandon Thorn on Twitter: “Ruiz put rookie Logan Hall in a cage in Week 2. Dominant. https://t.co/PxVNmGCCwJ” / Twitter.
Ruiz looked to have topped his Week Two on Sunday against the Vikings. Per PFF he ranked as the fifth best offensive lineman regarding pass blocking. Also, the top right guard in the league by this metric for Week Four.
If PFF isn’t your bag, then the eye test confirmed this theory. Ruiz was excellent on Sunday, apart from his one blemish, an ineligible man downfield penalty. Ruiz was an anchor in the pass protection and opened up so sizable holes in the running game.
This is incredibly promising for the Saints if Ruiz plays like this on a more consistent basis that will give the Saints an elite right side of the line for many years to come.
Marquez Callaway (WR)
Callaway got the start as the X receiver this week with Michael Thomas being out with a toe injury and he made the most of it.
Callaway made three catches from six targets for 53 yards. At face value, this doesn’t seem that impressive. It was how and when he made these catches that showed improvement in Callaway’s game.
After a nice 15- yard catch at the start of this drive. His number was called again, this time on a crucial fourth down and four play. The Saints were down 16-7 at the Vikings 41. Callaway made a physically contested catch over the middle for five yards and the first down.
He followed this up two plays later with again a physical catch down the left sideline for a huge gain of 33 yards. Which set the Saints up inside the ten. They scored a touchdown 3 plays later.
These plays show a significant improvement in making strongly contested catches. Being able to make contested catches is a must for a starting X receiver in the league. Despite being the Saints leading WR last season, it was an area he seemed to struggle in.
Even when Thomas is back the Saints need to find a way to keep Callaway involved. Maybe moving Thomas into the slot for some plays to allow Callaway to have some snaps on the outside. Either way, they need to figure it out after how he looked this game.
Thee Saints Trending Down
Deonte Harty (WR/Returner)
Deonte Harty was trying to create a spark for the Saints on Sunday. They were down six early in the second half and Harty chose to return a punt he probably shouldn’t have.
He had a gunner bearing down on him and tried to make a play. You can’t blame a player for doing that, especially one who’s shown elite return abilities previously.
However, what can’t happen in that situation is a fumble. Which unfortunately is exactly what happened. Harty was stripped from behind giving the Vikings the ball back at the Saints’ 44, essentially gifting them three points and three points mattered later in the game.
Harty does not look the same player so far this year and he is doing himself no favors when he becomes a free agent after this season.
Marshon Lattimore (CB)
Its no often that Lattimore will find his way to the down part of these list’s but, here we are.
A reason for optimism heading into Sunday’s game was that Lattimore has been lights out in all match-ups this season so far. Only surrendering three receptions for 23 yards and a passer rating of 51.5. This was against the likes of Mike Evans, D.J. Moore, and Drake London.
Now, I’m not pretending that Justin Jefferson is an easy matchup, far from it. Jefferson is one of the best the league has to offer at the WR position. However, Lattimore is paid to win these matchups.
On Sunday he did not. He held up fairly well for most of the game until the last Vikings drive, Lattimore had only given up Six catches for 54 yards (per PFF). That’s more than respectable against one of the best receivers in the league.
But in the clutch when the team needed it the most the Vikings star came out on top with a 39-yard catch down the left sideline. It was one on one coverage, man-on-man, and no help. Jefferson got clear of the Saints’ star CB to set up the Vikings for a game-clinching field goal.
Am I down on Lattimore for good now? Absolutely not and I expect to bounce back well against D.K. Metcalf is week.
After Landry’s stellar Week One performance I figured he would be challenging for the WR1 spot as the season progressed.
That has not been the case. Since his seven receptions for 114 yards performance in Week One Landry has struggled with only eight receptions for 54 yards since.
On Sunday Landry had two catches for 7 yards and one other catch on the successful two-point conversion play. These low numbers could be due to the foot injury he sustained in Week Three Vs the Panthers. Maybe he was playing more hurt than we realize on Sunday.
Either way, Landry needs to get going, he’s a perfect fit for Andy Dalton (who looks to be starting probably at least one more week), and having Landry in the better form will push this offense forwards to where it needs to be.
For more Saints content check out Who Dat Hype – Unapologetically Fearless Saints Coverage.
Please do follow me on Twitter @SaintsReportUK for more Saints content and discussion, and retweet the article if you enjoyed it! And let me know your feedback.