The New Orleans Saints went into their bye week with a record of 3-2. Their most recent victory was against the Los Angeles Chargers in which an overtime effort was needed to come out on top. Based on numerous league expert opinions, the Saints are not performing to the level of being Super Bowl contenders right now.
Rightfully so, the team deserves the harsh criticism that they are receiving at the start of the season. However, there’s still a lot of football left to be played, and the Saints are set up to make a strong push towards the postseason.
They are currently tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers for first place in the NFC South. However, the Saints could sit on top of the division if both Carolina and Tampa Bay lose their games today. We will examine both the offensive and defensive of the football and analyze what they can do to improve their chances of advancing to the postseason.
If you have not heard already, the Saints offense has not been performing at the levels we are accustomed to seeing over the years. For whatever reason, Drew Brees has not looked comfortable when making decisions in the pocket so far this season.
Many critics have stated that father time has caught up with Brees. Despite it all, the offense still ranked as one of the best in the league by averaging 30.6 points per game. The Saints offense may not be as exciting as it once was, but they still managed to get the job done despite the recent struggles that we have witnessed.
In the future, a more balanced approach will be needed to keep their opponent’s offense on the sidelines as much as possible. Running back Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara have shown that they can control the time of possession for the Saints offense. Not saying that Brees can no longer get it done through the air, but a strong rushing attack will be able to preserve him down the stretch. Another bright spot for the offense is that free-agent acquisition Emmanuel Sanders finally understands the scheme of the offense.
Sanders had his best game as a Saints wide receiver when he caught 12 passes for 122 yards in last Monday’s victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas is expected to back in the Saints lineup after being out of the last four games with a high-ankle sprain injury. It will be interesting to see how the offense will progress with both Sanders and Thomas on the field at the same time.
Over the past three seasons, the New Orleans Saints defense has been at an exceptional level. But to start the 2020 campaign, they have reverted to a defense that we have not seen since the 2014 through 2016 seasons. Based on what has been observed, the issues continue to be within the secondary.
P.J. Williams and Marcus Williams continue to allow big plays to occur within their area of responsibility. Based on his production on the field, All-Pro cornerback Marshon Lattimore is not playing at full strength at the moment. The bye week comes at a perfect time as he attempts to recover from a hamstring injury. In regards to the defensive line, they have made significant improvements over the past two weeks.
Trey Hendrickson leads the team with 3.0 sacks on the season. However, other guys, such as Pro Bowler Cam Jordan, need to get things going during the second half of the season. Fellow teammate Marcus Davenport had an impressive outing in his season debut against the L.A. Chargers on Monday Night Football. In future games after the bye week, the Saints pass rush needs to average about three to five sacks per game to make an impact on their prospective matchups.
The Saints’ next two opponents are the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears. From what has been observed on both teams, these matchups are very winnable for the Saints. However, with the way that the team has been performing, nothing is a guaranteed victory. Coming out of the bye week, we shall see if this team is finally in Super Bowl contending mode.