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New Orleans Saints 2022 midseason grade and takeaways

Photo Credit: Michael Owens/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints have gotten off to a shaky start in a season built with the optimism of contending for a Super Bowl. Nine weeks into the season, the Saints have compiled a record of 3-6 and are nowhere near Super Bowl contending levels. The driving factors that have derailed the Saints’ lofty expectations are miscues and injuries to key personnel. Despite losing the Week 9 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, the Saints are only one game out of first place for control of the NFC South. Let’s look at the Saints’ midseason grade and the takeaways from the season’s first nine weeks.

The Longterm Solution at Quarterback Has Not Been Figured Out

After Deshaun Watson decided not to waive his no-trade clause to join the Saints, the team shifted their attention to re-signing QB Jameis Winston. The expectation was that the former no.1 overall pick would be brought back on a one-year tryout to determine if he is the number one option at the position. The front office also surrounded Winston with two more options in the passing game from the draft and free agency. The intent was not to repeat last year’s version of the passing attack, one of the worst in the league. Instead, it has been the exact opposite. Winston has not seen action since Week 3 due to battling numerous injuries.

While the offense moves at a better pace with backup Andy Dalton, it has not resulted in winning consistently. In the six games that Dalton has started, the Saints have only won two games while he is under center. Head coach Dennis Allen has decided not to name Winston the starter even though he is healthy enough to play. He stated that Dalton would remain in the lineup because the offense seemed to run better. If things do not turn around in the next ten games, the Saints will again be in the quarterback market.

The Offense Primarily Goes through the Running Attack

No one would know if the Saints planned their offense to morph into one of the league’s top rushing attacks. At the start of the season, the offense seemed not to have an identity of what they wanted to be as a unit. Everything became clear about the Saints’ identity in the Week 5 game against the Seattle Seahawks. New Orleans won 39-32 over Seattle, but the biggest takeaway from the game was how well they ran the football. Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill combined for 223 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Another game where we saw the offense at its best was against the Las Vegas Raiders. Kamara and Hill rushed for 123 yards, along with three TDs.

The New Orleans offense would become one of the league’s top units. Currently, they are ranked sixth in total offense by averaging 377.6 yards per game. However, despite the group being ranked among the league’s best, it has not resulted in consistent production. New Orleans only has three wins for those accolades as an offense.

Chris Olave Has Emerged as the Saints’ WR1

With Michael Thomas out of the fold again due to another season-ending injury, all eyes are now on rookie wideout Chris Olave. And so far, he has not disappointed. Olave is currently ninth in the NFL with 618 receiving yards. He has the type of campaign that could result in winning this year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Imagine how things will turn out once the Saints have a definite answer at the QB position.

The Defense has Lost Its Edge After Trading C.J. Gardener-Johnson

Regardless of where you stand on the Saints’ decision to part ways with Ceedy Duce, the defense has yet to fill the void he left behind. It has become evident that Gardner-Johnson was the emotional leader of the Saints’ Defense. Without his energy on the field, the Saints defense has yet to regain its swagger. The group was expected to be the team’s strength at the start of the season. But so far, they are playing like a shell of themselves. Issues such as missed tackles and players still not accustomed to their role in the secondary have all played a part in the inept production of what used to be an elite defense. With ten weeks remaining in the season, will the group be able to bring those miscues down to a minimum?

Midseason Grade: D

Based on everything that has transpired through the first nine weeks of the season, a midseason grade of a D is warranted for the current state of the New Orleans Saints. After the matchup with Pittsburgh, New Orleans will go into the tougher portion of its 2022 schedule. By that time, we will find out if there’s anything positive left in what looks to be a season of disappointment.

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Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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