There’s a lot to dissect after a game like the Saints’ 39-32 victory over Seattle on Sunday. One thing is for sure there are certainly some players who you can feel more positive about than others.
Three Saints Players Trending Up
How can we not start with Taysom Hill, this was the ultimate display of why the Saints gave Taysom a $10 million per year contract. Not so he could be a TE. Not so he could be a QB but so he can play the role he’s made of the do-everything playmaker role.
Taysom Hill on Sunday:
- Nine carries for 112 yards and three rushing touchdowns
- One pass for 22 yards and a touchdown
- One fumble recovery on special teams
- Three kick returns for 69 yards
- A game-sealing lead block to allow the Saints to run out the clock.
https://t.co/gZe8KvMb8r (lead block video)
Hill was incredible on Sunday and is without question my favorite Saints player to watch when he’s part of a game plan like this.
There is more diversity to add to his role that will allow this to continue to be effective. in the second quarter, the Saints ran a QB draw play out of an empty formation (no RB in the backfield, 5 players out wide). Hill ran for 15 yards on the play because Seattle didn’t have enough players in the box to defend it.
Eventually, teams are going to try and cheat this look and bring more players in to defend the run, meaning the playmakers on the outside will have favorable coverage, which Hill is more than capable of exploiting, or they continue to leave the box light which gives Hill a much bigger advantage running the ball.
What do you do to defend it? Who knows, but it’s certainly a great schematic advantage for the Saints to have going forward.
Due to these advantages, He has to be a factor on offense every week. There’s no excuse not to get him 10-15 touches every week and see what happens.
This is the Alvin Kamara game we’ve been waiting for, he ran decisively, the first two plays of the game AK ran for six yards. He looked back to his best on Sunday following his extended issues with a rib injury.
The first drive was a sign of things to come, the Saints rode Kamara to 194 yards from scrimmage (103 rushing, 91 receiving) he ran with a noticeable burst all day and looked the best I’ve seen for a long time running the ball.
Crucially the Saints got the ball in Kamara’s hands in space, capped by a very well-executed screenplay that went for 54 yards.
This is the blueprint for Saints OC Pete Carmichael Jr going forward, find ways to get the ball in 41’s hands, maybe not 23 carries every week but his role in the passing game this week was perfect.
Despite all this good, I was close to not including him in this up list due to one nearly costly error that is becoming a trend. A lost fumble.
After a nice ten-yard catch and run, Kamara was hit by Coby Bryant, looked like a perfect hit to cause a fumble but again this can’t continue to happen, this is Kamara’s second fumble this season.
The Saints would have had second and ten with 24 seconds left in the half and one timeout still in their pocket, on Seattle’s 39-yard line., up 17-13. Instead, Seattle got the ball back before the half and scored. So, the Saints went into halftime down two instead of probably being up seven.
With Seattle getting the ball after the half this could have been a huge momentum shift, luckily, shout-out to Pete Werner the Saints forced a fumble straight away after the half to snatch the momentum right back.
Speaking of Pete Werner, he might have been the best defensive player on the team so far this year. That continued on Sunday.
Per ESPN he finished with 5 solo tackles putting his total to 37 solo tackles on the season, which is the most in the league.
Per PFF he also had three pressures on Sunday. If Werner starts to become a force blitzing, then there’s officially nothing he can’t do.
He did give up some plays in the passing and this is an area he can still improve in but its rare he gives up much in the way of yardage (three receptions 29 yards per PFF).
I don’t think PFF numbers can always show quite how dominant Werner has been so far this year. He is constantly in the right place and always around the ball and when he’s there he’s making plays. I.E. the fumble he forced I mentioned earlier (see below).
Werner is on the road to an all-pro level season if he continues at this level of play for the whole season.
Three Saints Players Trending Down
This is pretty simple on a day where Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill averaged 6.7 yards per carrying between them, and Ingram managed 1.8 yards.
I’m not putting that all on Ingram maybe some blocks weren’t held as well with him running compared to the other two but from a pure numbers perspective that is damming.
This is two weeks in a row now where Ingram has looked like a downgrade on the field, he was outplayed in London by Latavius Murray and struggled again this week in a game he showed have been able to thrive in.
Ingram did exit part of the Saints game in London with an injury but hasn’t been on the injury report since and did return to that game. Maybe he’s got something lingering? Because he looked good earlier in the season, especially against Tampa.
RB2 is a position the Saints need to inject some youth into next offseason. They may look around the practice squads/ free agents to add here in the coming weeks or they might just keep giving Taysom the RB2 work.
The much-maligned Saints WR did himself no favors again on Sunday. With Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry inactive, Chris Olave (concussion) and Deonte Harty (Toe) rule out during the game. New Orleans was down to the studs at WR. Only Smith, Marquez Callaway, and the recently signed/called-up Keith Kirkwood left as the only WRs left on the gameday roster.
Smith ended the day with one catch for ten yards, on four targets. The main issue was two drops in big moments. Both were in the second half the first drop came with 7:35 left in the third quarter on a third and four. The catch would have set the Saints up around midfield, with a fresh set of downs up five. Instead, the Saints had to punt.
Don’t get me wrong the catch wasn’t easy but it was one that Smith should have made.
The second was a flat-out drop in the fourth quarter that again would have given the Saints a fresh set of downs in Seattle territory, instead, the Saints punted again.
Smith looked promising earlier in the season against Carolina, unfortunately, this has been a consistent issue in his career, stringing together consistent games without getting injured.
Smith will need to step up this weekend if any of the big three (Thomas, Olave, and Landry) don’t play again.
I saved the biggest down for last.
Training camp MVP Paulson Adebo got roasted on Sunday. Per PFF he gave up nine receptions from 11 targets for 184 yards and three touchdowns.
That’s 2014-2016 Saints-level CB play. Now there are some contributing factors, his safeties did not help him at all on several plays. There appeared to be times when he was expecting safety help and I didn’t come, or if it did come and they did nothing to help him.
Now, Lockett and Metcalf are not easy matchups, I’m not saying Adebo should have been prime Marshon Lattimore and gave up no catches but for him to live up to his training camp hype, he should have been able to hold his own here.
This could just be a blip for Adebo as he continues to work from the ankle injury that made him miss the start of the season. Fingers crossed that’s the case with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd coming to town on Sunday. The Saints will especially need to step up if Marshon Lattimore is out this week.
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