The Bucs ‘Can’t Guard Mike’ as the Saints Keep Rolling to Their Third Straight Win

Adam Forsythe / October 7, 2019

When Drew Brees went down in the team’s week two matchup with the Los Angeles Rams, there were many people who doubted the Saints could survive without their future Hall-Of-Fame quarterback. With backup Teddy Bridgewater now set to lead this team, there was certainly a lot of pressure on the 26-year old quarterback. Bridgewater and the Saints quickly silenced any doubters and now have their team sitting at the top of the NFC South with a record of 4-1. Their latest win came on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game where the Saints seemed to truly dominate.

Prior to Sunday’s game, Bridgewater seemed to play conservatively as he often attempted shorter passes and very rarely attempted longer throws. However, on Sunday, that script changed as Sean Payton seemingly let Bridgewater loose. Bridgewater looked much more comfortable against the Buccaneers as he made better decisions and got rid of the ball sooner. Bridgewater also looked much better in the deep passing game as he connected with Ted Ginn Jr. for a 33-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Bridgewater played well but still fell victim to a few mistakes. His lone interception came from a pass which was a little behind Alvin Kamara and eventually was picked off by a Buccaneers’ defender. The Saints’ current starting quarterback finished the day completing 26/34 for 314 yards, one interception, and four touchdowns.

Throughout the game, wide receiver Michael Thomas was Bridgewater’s favorite target. Thomas lived up to his Twitter handle, Can’t Guard Mike, as he seemed to always be open. Thomas torched the Buccaneers’ defense as he hauled in 11 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns which were all season-high marks. Hopefully, Bridgewater continues to find Thomas as this seems like a deadly combo.

Once again, the Saints’ defense came to play on Sunday. The Saints did an amazing job shutting down the run as they held the Buccaneer’s rushers to only 94 yards on 22 total carries. On top of the dominating run defense, the pass rush attacked Jameis Winston all day. The Saints logged six total sacks as Marcus Davenport led the group with two sacks and Sheldon Rankins, Malcolm Brown, Cameron Jordan, and Carl Granderson added one sack each to their season totals. The recurring theme of penalties continued to haunt the Saints though as they had two interceptions called back due to flags on the defense. The Saints also held Winston in check as a large chunk of his stats came in garbage time including a touchdown pass to Chris Godwin.

The Saints showed their dominance on Sunday as they rolled over the Buccaneers on their way to a final score of 31-24. The next challenge for the Saints will come next Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars and their emerging quarterback Gardner Minshew II. The Saints will be looking to keep their win streak going and move on to a record of 5-1.

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Saints Shock the World and Take Down the Undefeated Cowboys

Adam Forsythe / September 30, 2019

I am a firm believer that the New Orleans Saints thoroughly enjoy giving their fans heart attacks near the end of games. It took phenomenal defensive play and of course the sure-fire leg of Wil Lutz, but the Saints were able to win against the undefeated Dallas Cowboys in a game where the Saints were considered heavy underdogs. Time to break down this great win for the Who Dat Nation.

The defense of the New Orleans Saints showed up and showed out last night. Cameron Jordan and the rest of that unit played their best game of the season so far against a Dallas Cowboys’ offense they had looked explosive through their first three games. The Saints got a nice boost to their run defense as defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins made his season debut after injuring his Achilles against the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs last season. The Cowboys’ superstar running back, Ezekiel Elliot was held to only 35 yards on 18 carries. The Saints knew that if they were going to have a shot in this game, they would need to slow down Elliot, and that’s exactly what they did.

The pass defense of the Saints also put on a solid show as they held Dak Prescott to 223 yards, which is his lowest mark on the season. This success is largely due in part to the stellar play of cornerback Marshon Lattimore. The former Defensive Rookie of the Year returned to his lockdown ways as he kept Amari Cooper under wraps for only 48 receiving yards on only five catches.

Forcing turnovers was also a major key to the Saints’ win. Safety Vonn Bell was all over the field as he forced a fumble and recovered it. Prior to Bell’s forced fumble, linebacker A. J. Klein forced a fumble of his own which was recovered by none other than Bell himself. To add to the Saints’ turnover stats, Prescott attempted a hail mary at the end of the game which ultimately landed in the hands of safety Marcus Williams. This defense is playing inspired right now. They’re going to need to continue their dominant play moving forward as they will be facing some promising offenses in the coming weeks.

As dominant as the Saints’ defense looked last night, the Cowboys’ refused to be shown up. Their athletic linebackers flew all over the field and were able to hold Alvin Kamara to only 69 rushing yards and 20 receiving yards. Despite the Cowboys’ ability to slow down Kamara, they weren’t quite able to do the same to Michael Thomas. The sure-handed wide receiver became Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite target last night as it seemed like Bridgewater always looked his way when he needed to make a play. Thomas finished the night with nine catches for 95 yards which was his second-highest yards total this season.

Bridgewater once again played a solid game with a few mistakes sprinkled in. Bridgewater threw an early interception, but the blame can’t fall completely on the young quarterback as the ball was knocked out of Ted Ginn Jr’s hands and into the waiting arms of a Cowboys’ defender. Perhaps the biggest mistake of the night for Bridgewater came on the Saints’ final offensive drive as he took a sack on third down, knocking the Saints out of field goal range. Despite the mistakes, Bridgewater finished with 23 completions for 193 yards.

All 12 of the Saints’ points came from the right leg of Wil Lutz. Lutz connected on 4/4 kicks with a long of 42 yards. As great as it is to have a kicker as reliable as Lutz, the Saints offense will need to start putting more touchdowns on the board in future games.

The Saints survived a primetime matchup against a Cowboys’ team who had been on fire. With a final score of 12-10, the Saints are in first place in the NFC South. Their next game features their first divisional matchup of the year against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who pulled off an upset of their own by beating the undefeated Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The Saints are on a roll but they have to be careful leading up to this game that could prove to be a trap game for the Who Dat Nation.

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Saints Earn First Win Without Brees since 2005

Adam Forsythe / September 23, 2019

In the days following Drew Brees’ right thumb injury, many Saints’ fans were left feeling nervous about how their favorite team would play without their superstar quarterback. Fans seemed divided as many wanted to see the electric Taysom Hill take control of the offense while others wanted to see if Teddy Bridgewater could return to his former starting form. Throughout the week, head coach Sean Payton refused to name a starter for Sunday’s matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Payton insisted that the Saints would take a 2 QB approach to the game. However, once the game began it was Bridgewater who earned the start and maintained it throughout the game.

Bridgewater played well enough to keep his team on top. There were a few errant throws, but for the most part, he played a mistake-free game. With a superstar like Alvin Kamara on offense, that’s all the Saints needed from Bridgewater.

Kamara put on a show as it seemed like nobody on the Seahawks’ defense was able to bring him down. The third-year running back had one of his best performances in a Saints’ uniform as he ran 16 times for 69 yards and a rushing touchdown, but he also dominated through the air, hauling in nine receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. On Kamara’s receiving touchdown, he showed off his toughness and balance as he broke three tackles and tip-toed along the sideline for the score. Kamara’s strong performance helped to alleviate the pressure from Bridgewater and the rest of the offense.

Both the defense and special teams unit also did their part to help the Saints beat the Seahawks in their home stadium. The Saints’ first score of the day came from a 53-yard punt return touchdown by Deonte Harris. The player who Sean Payton raved about all offseason lived up to the hype by providing the Saints with a massive spark of electricity to begin the game. The Saints’ second score of the day came from a 33-yard fumble return by Vonn Bell. The referees must have learned from their previous mistakes as they allowed the play to carry on without blowing the whistle to signal the play dead. After the play was over, it was reviewed and later confirmed to be a forced fumble and recovery for a touchdown for the Saints.

The Saints were able to travel to Seattle and handle business by beating the Seahawks 33-27. Bridgewater didn’t play spectacularly well, but he did exactly what the Saints needed him to do by playing well enough to get the win. The Saints were able to play highly conservative during this game, but that likely won’t work next week against a Dallas Cowboys team that looks very explosive throughout the first three weeks. Payton will likely develop a more aggressive gameplan to handle the Cowboys next week on Sunday Night Football back home in the dome.

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Is it Taysom Time in NOLA?

Adam Forsythe / September 16, 2019

As some of you may know, I am an avid user of social media. I spend a lot of time scrolling through both Twitter and Facebook. All throughout the internet, I’ve seen many Saints’ fans wanting Taysom Hill to take over at quarterback with Drew Brees now sidelined with an injury. Brees suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb early in the team’s rematch with the Los Angeles Rams. This unfortunate injury will require surgery and is likely to keep Brees off the field for six weeks. When Brees left the game on Sunday, backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took over for the future Hall of Famer, but he provided a less than inspiring performance. However, head coach Sean Payton says that Bridgewater will be the team’s starting quarterback, and I believe that is the best decision to keep this team competitive.

I am a firm believer that Teddy Bridgewater gives the Saints the best chance to win during this six-week stretch without Brees. Bridgewater’s game against the Rams was lackluster, but he certainly did not get much help from the rest of the team. It seemed as if the whole team checked out in the second half.

Injuries also began piling up as the Saints lost Andrus Peat and Tre’Quan Smith in the second half. The team was already without Keith Kirkwood who was dealing with a hamstring injury during pre-game warmups. Without those two receivers, the Saints found themselves very short-handed as they began running Taysom Hill at wide receiver towards the end of the game. Losing Peat was as devastating if not more because it left last year’s 7th-round pick, Will Clapp, in charge of stopping a monster named Aaron Donald, who is widely regarded as the best player in the NFL.

Sloppy penalties also harmed Bridgewater and the offense. There were several occasions where a holding penalty was called on first down, leaving the offense in a 1st & 20 situation which was often very difficult for them to overcome.

In addition to the penalties, many players were simply unable to hold on to the football. Newly acquired tight end Jared Cook dropped a couple passes they went straight through his hands. Perhaps even more shockingly, the usually sure-handed Michael Thomas let a few passes slip through his grasp as well.

With all these things considered, Bridgewater did not have a perfect game. There were a few throws that he flat out missed on, but I don’t believe he played poorly enough for people to cast him away just yet.

Taysom Hill is a very exciting player as he brings a certain electricity to the offense, so I can see why there are so many people who want him to start at quarterback moving forward. However, electricity alone is not enough to win games. Bridgewater has proven experience in this league. I am very intrigued to see what a full week of practice and a new gameplan revolving around Bridgewater’s style of play can do for this team. Unfortunately, the road won’t be easy for Bridgewater and the Saints. Next week they will face off against a very talented Seahawks’ team and then they must battle the Dallas Cowboys who have been very impressive throughout these first two games. Despite the outcry for Taysom time, I believe that starting Bridgewater at quarterback will give this team the best chance of winning against these strong opponents.

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Saints Suffer Their First Loss of the Season Against the Rams

Adam Forsythe / September 16, 2019

Oh boy. That was one of the roughest Saints’ games I think we’ve seen in a long time. Sloppy play, injuries, and of course poor officiating plagued the Saints which put them into situations that they were unable to overcome. Let’s go ahead and breakdown the key points in the game and see how the Saints could rebound from such a rough outing.

The Saints started off the game on the wrong foot as tight end Jared Cook was unable to haul in a Drew Brees pass which ultimately was intercepted by Rams’ safety John Johnson III. Cook nearly caught the ball but seemingly handed the ball off to Johnson as they battled to the ground.

Thankfully, the Saints’ defense was able to stand strong in the red zone, holding the Rams to only 3 points. On the next drive, every Saints’ fan’s nightmare scenario occurred.

Faced with a 3rd and 8 on the NO 46-yard line, Brees attempted a pass to Cook over the middle of the field, which fell incomplete. As Brees’ completed his throwing motion, his right hand hit the hand of Rams’ defensive tackle, Aaron Donald. Brees left the field with the rest of the team after the failed 3rd-down attempt, and he went to get his right hand wrapped up. This right-hand injury sidelined Brees for the remainder of the game.

Despite losing Brees, the defense continued to play well, especially the defensive front. The Saints held the Rams to punts on their next two drives. Unfortunately, the loss of their star quarterback drained the energy from the Saints’ offense. They were forced to punt on their first drive without Brees but they were able to muster a field goal on the following series.

With the game tied at three, the Saints’ defense knew they needed to make a game-changing play to help their offense, and that’s exactly what they did. The Rams found themselves in a 3rd down and seven situation on the NO 11-yard line. Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff dropped back for a pass but was quickly hit by Saints’ defensive end Trey Hendrickson. The ball was knocked out of Goff’s hand and the Saints’ best defender, Cameron Jordan, picked up the ball and ran it in for an 87-yard Saints’ touchdown. However, horrendous officiating once again struck the Saints as the referee blew the play dead, calling the play an incomplete pass. The Saints challenged the play and it was reversed, but since the play was blown dead, the touchdown did not count and the Saints got the ball at the spot of the fumble recovery.

After all the issues regarding the fumble recovery and the missed call from the referees, the Saints were unable to get anything going on offense as they were stopped on a fourth-down attempt. The Rams were able to add a field goal to their score just before half time. The Saints headed to the locker room down 6-3.

When the Saints returned to the field after halftime, it seemed as though they still had a shot to win the game. The defense stopped the Rams on their first drive of the third quarter and the Saints were able to score a field goal, tying the game up at six. However, the game quickly got out of hand not long after.

Jared Goff and the Rams carved through the Saints’ defense as their next drive resulted in a touchdown run from Todd Gurley II. The Saints still couldn’t get anything going on offense as they punted the ball back to the Rams who were able to put another touchdown on the board.

Unfortunately, the offense struggles continued for the Saints as they were only able to score a field goal on their next drive. Then the Rams continued the onslaught by scoring yet another touchdown. With the score now 27-9, the game was over.

The Saints are now 1-1 on the season, which has them tied with the Falcons and Buccaneers for top place in the NFC South.

Injuries were the Saints’ worst enemy throughout the game (other than the referees). Losing Drew Brees so early on in the game was demoralizing but it certainly didn’t help that the team also lost offensive guard Andrus Peat and wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith to injury in the second half. The Saints have a very tough schedule ahead as they face off against the Seahawks and the Cowboys for their next two games. They’ll be looking to bounce back quickly as they hope backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater can lead them to victories during this tough stretch without Brees.

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