The Saints’ offense is starting to build a foundation. An identity. Despite being their starting quarterback and two star wide receivers, the team still put up 39 points. The offense is starting to put the missing pieces of the puzzle that is this offense and it showed in Sunday’s win.
Saints Offense Is Finding An Identity
It’s been a struggle for the Saints. Through the first three weeks of the season, there was no identity or foundation to build upon. The team was always playing from behind which prevented the Saints’ offense from establishing an identity. Since Andy Dalton has taken over as quarterback for the injured Jameis Winston, the team has started to build a foundation.
Andy Dalton’s arm isn’t anywhere near the skill level of Jameis Winston. That doesn’t mean it’s bad it just means the offense is limited in certain areas. Since Andy Dalton has been starting, the offense has looked the best it has. With Dalton at quarterback, it’s forced the Saints to run the ball efficiently and consistently. They don’t have the luxury of relying on your quarterback to win games, and that’s what was missing when Jameis was playing. It’s something that the team tried to get going against Tampa Bay but playing from behind prevented that.
This is a team that is becoming a run-first team. Latavius Murray was the star last week, this week it’s both Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill who had 100 rushing yards each. Utilizing those weapons in the running game is going to get the Saints wins. Running the ball with Taysom Hill and throwing swing passes to Alvin Kamara will help the offense be a game-managing offense, which is what the team is built to be.
Moving forward the scheme needs to get the ball in Kamara’s hands in open space while getting the ball in Taysom’s hands-on power runs. At least 15 touches per game for each player. This is the way the plays should be called no matter whose at quarterback. Getting the ball in your play makers hands will set the team up for success.
Mistakes Continue To Hold The Saints Back
Ball security continues to be an issue for the Saints. The team had two fumbles and a muff on a kick return. Only one was recovered by Seattle but it resulted in points before the half with a lead swing for Seattle. Kamara talked all week about protecting the ball and for him to have that costly fumble is not ideal. That was a drive where the Saints were probably going to put up points and maybe get a two-possession lead, so that fumble was costly.
At this point is there anything this team can do to protect the ball? They talked all week about working on ball protection and holding each other accountable. It didn’t work. This is an issue that if it isn’t fixed soon, will cost them games just like it did in Tampa Bay and Carolina.
The other issue the Saints have been dealing with is penalties. It was somewhat better this week but still simple errors affected the team. They had six penalties for 57 yards, three of which were false starts. That is three too many for a team who wants to win now. The other three penalties were two holding penalties and defensive pass interference on Marshon Lattimore that prevented a touchdown.
This team has to clean up the ball security and penalties now before it’s too late.
Lattimore Has A Bounce Back Game For The Saints
After a tough week against Vikings star wide receiver Justin Jefferson, cornerback Marshon Lattimore played lights out. According to PFF, Lattimore was targeted one time and had a pass break up on that one target. One could argue that he gave up 27 yards on a defensive pass interference that would’ve resulted in a touchdown if he did not make contact.
This is the exact game Lattimore needed to bounce back. He’s been as close to perfect this season as any corner can get and to have a bounce-back game to this level is promising. Especially with the matchups, he’ll be facing in the next few weeks, this is good momentum to build off of.
Lattimore did leave the game early in the fourth quarter after getting hit and landing awkwardly in the end zone. There isn’t an official word on the injury at the moment. During the game, he was ruled questionable to return with an abdominal injury, but I’m told it’s a kidney injury. They’re still doing tests, but bruised kidneys are believed to be the scoop on the injury.