Saints Win Season Opener in Nail-Biting Fashion

Adam Forsythe / September 10, 2019

Ladies and Gentlemen, we finally made it. The NFL regular season is finally upon us. After last season ended in such a heartbreaking way, the anticipation for this season has been growing ever since. And now, for the first time since 2013, the New Orleans Saints will begin their season at 1-0 after defeating the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Yet, in true Saints’ fashion, this game didn’t come without its fair share of nerve-wracking moments. Let’s break down those moments and some of the keys of the game that lead to a victory for the Who Dat Nation.

The first three drives of the game resulted in punts for the two teams (two for the Texans and one for the Saints). Once the Saints got the ball back after the Texans’ second punt, it looked as if Drew Brees and company were set to put the first points of the season upon the board. However, Brees underthrew a pass at the Houston four-yard line intended for newly acquired running back Latavius Murray, which ultimately was intercepted by Texans’ linebacker Whitney Mercilus.

After stopping the Saints near the goal line, Deshaun Watson and the Texans quickly got to work as he uncorked a 54-yard pass to Will Fuller who did his best Randy Moss impression to make the grab. The Texans then continued to drive down to the NO 21-yard line where the Saints were able to hold them to a fourth down and one situation. However, the defense could not stop Watson and his legs as he was able to scramble for 21 yards and a touchdown on the fourth down attempt.

Brees and the Saints got the ball right back and began carving up the Texans defense. Unfortunately, the drive stalled on the HOU 14-yard line, but Wil Lutz was able to drive home a 32-yard field goal for the Saints’ first points of the season.

On the Texans’ next possession, the Saints’ defense was unable to get off the field. Deshaun Watson orchestrated a 16-play, 7:35 drive which ended in a touchdown pass to star wide receiver, Deandre Hopkins.

Now down 14-3 with only 1:47 remaining before halftime, the Saints knew they needed to put points on the board before heading to the locker rooms. After connecting with Tre’Quan Smith for a first down, the Saints quickly found themselves in a 3rd and 17 situation. With 0:48 seconds remaining, Brees found his own star receiver, Michael Thomas, for a quick catch along the left sideline leaving 0:42 on the clock. According to the initial spot of the ball, the play did not result in a first down and the clock continued to run as Thomas was tackled in bounds. However, a review was initiated at the 0:26 mark. After the review, the call was overturned and the Saints were awarded a first down, yet the referees made a critical mistake. A ten-second runoff was set to accompany the new ruling in the field, however, those 10 seconds were taken off the clock at the 0:26 mark when the review was initiated instead of at the 0:42 mark where the previous play stopped. Instead of having 0:32 to work with, the Saints’ time was cut in half with only 0:16 to go before halftime. As horrendous as this call by the referees was, I’m sure that there’s never, ever been a horrible call against the Saints in the Superdome (insert clip of NOLA No-call here).

Despite the shortened clock, Brees was able to get the team down to the HOU 38-yard line. However, Wil Lutz was unable to connect on a 56-yard field goal attempt. The Saints went into the locker room down 14-3.

The Saints came back into the field after halftime with fire in their eyes. Brees connected with Ted Ginn Jr. for an 11-yard catch, but the aerial attack didn’t stop there. Two plays later, Brees threw a quick, short pass to running back Alvin Kamara who was able to gain 41 yards after the catch. After a failed passing attempt from Brees to Taysom Hill, the Saints got the run game involved as they handled the ball off to Latavius Murray who took the ball 30 yards for the first touchdown of the season for his new team.

On the Texans’ next drive, they continued to move the ball against the Saints’ defense. On a 2nd and 4 play at the NO 21-yard line, Watson scrambled to the right and threw the ball towards Deandre Hopkins, but Marshon Lattimore got in the way and intercepted the ball. The excitement was short-lived as the play was nullified due to an offsides penalty on defensive end Mitchell Loewen. On the very next play, Watson and Hopkins connected for a 16-yard touchdown to increase the Texans’ lead.

The next drive for the Saints was similar to the long Texans’ drive earlier in the game, as it lasted 11 plays and took 5:41 off the clock. The long series ended in a beautiful pass from Drew Brees to none other than Taysom Hill for a 9-yard touchdown.

On the Texans’ next drive, it was all about the Saints’ defense who forced an incompletion, a short gain on the ground, and finally a fantastic interception by safety Marcus Williams. After the interception, Deandre Hopkins (the intended target) body-slammed Williams in an attempt to tackle him. That resulted in an unnecessary roughness penalty which made the Saints’ field position even better.

Positioned at the HOU 49-yard line, Brees got his two best playmakers involved as he connected with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara for 9-yard and 28-yard gains respectively. The 40-year old wonder at Quarterback capped off the drive with a 14-yard pass to Tre’Quan Smith for a touchdown.

The next three drives went exactly as the first three did, all punts. However, on their next offensive drive, the Saints were able to build on their lead by converting a 47-yard field goal attempt.

With the score set at 27-21, Deshaun Watson and the Texans needed a touchdown to regain the lead, and that’s exactly what they got. After a 38-yard completion to Hopkins, Watson connected with former Saints’ wide receiver Kenny Stills for a 37-yard touchdown.

With the game on the line and only 0:37 remaining, Drew Brees knew what needed to be done. After a series of short passes and spikes to stop the clock, the New Orleans Saints found themselves on the HOU 40-yard line with only 0:02 left in the game. Sean Payton sent out Wil Lutz to attempt a career-high 58-yard field goal. After missing a 56-yard attempt right before halftime, Lutz more than made up for it by nailing his game-winning kick. Thanks to the right foot of Lutz, the Saints are now undefeated and sit atop the NFC South.

With a final score of 30-28, this was a rough game for the Saints as not many things seemed to go right. However, Drew Brees and Wil Lutz played phenomenally as they led their team to a week one victory.

As great as Brees, Lutz, and the dynamic duo of Thomas and Kamara were, right tackle Ryan Ramczyk was truly dominant in this matchup. He was tasked with containing monstrous defensive end JJ Watt, and he did not disappoint. Watt did not record a single tackle or QB hit in the game. When the Saints and Texans played each other in 2015, Watt told the Saints to get a new right tackle. Watt is likely eating his own words as that “new right tackle” bested him last night.

The Saints will be looking to carry this momentum into their week two matchup with the Los Angeles Rams in a game that will likely be just as intense as this one.

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Saints Agree to Record-Breaking Deal with Michael Thomas

Adam Forsythe / July 31, 2019

In a move that many New Orleans Saints fans’ expected to occur, the team and star wide receiver Michael Thomas have agreed to a massive, blockbuster contract extension.

Early on Wednesday morning, sources announced that the Saints signed Thomas to a five-year contract extension worth $100 million. The contract includes $61 million guaranteed. This $20 million per year number was the exact value that Thomas was seeking in an extension. This contract makes Thomas the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. He will also become the first non-QB offensive player to sign a $100 million contract.

Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Thomas was set to make just over $1.1 million this upcoming season. This prompted him and the Saints to begin negotiations for a contract extension. However, the two sides were unable to come to an agreement before training camp started last week which led Thomas to begin his holdout. Now they the two sides have agreed on an extension, Thomas will be returning to the practice field as early as tomorrow.

Throughout his first three years in the league, Thomas has more than proven his worth. In just 47 games, the Ohio State product has record 321 receptions for 3,787 yards and 23 touchdowns. Thomas has also been selected to two Pro Bowls as well as earning a spot on the 2018 All-Pro first team, which made him the only wide receiver in Saints’ history to earn that honor.

At only 26 years old, Thomas is entering his prime. The team and its fans are lucky to have the stud wide receiver locked in for another five-years.

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Image credit: Yahoo! Sports

Saints Defensive Tackle Suspended to Start 2019 NFL Season

Adam Forsythe / June 28, 2019

After New Orleans Saints’ defensive tackle David Onyemata was cited for marijuana possession on February 7, 2019, many Saints fans were left to wonder how the NFL would discipline the rising star.

On Friday, June 28, the fans’ questions were finally answered. The league issued a one-game suspension to Onyemata. This suspension is significantly less than many had originally expected.

When fellow defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins suffered a torn Achilles during last season’s playoff matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, the team already knew that they would be entering the next season shorthanded at the position. Then, once the news originally broke about Onyemata, it became even more unclear how the team would handle this difficult situation. To overcome this dilemma, the Saints signed defensive linemen Malcolm Brown and Mario Edwards Jr. during the offseason to add to the depth at the position.

The Saints week one matchup comes against the Houston Texans, so the Saints will be relying on their offseason additions to step up to the challenge. Luckily, the team also has a sneaky good player in Taylor Stallworth who could very well play a key role in the Saints’ defensive rotation this season.

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Pelicans Draft Zion Williamson with 1st Pick

Some people say expect the unexpected. Well, the New Orleans Pelicans did the exact opposite of what these people say, making the most predictable move of the decade by drafting Duke superstar Zion Williamson with the 1st overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Williamson, a 6-foot-7 Power Forward, is looked at to be the next face of the NBA. He averaged 22.6 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists per game at Duke in just his freshman year. After putting up these monstrous stats, he decided to enter his name into the NBA draft pool, a move that was a surprise to nobody. Zion is undoubtedly the best player in this draft, and New Orleans is going to relish in the fact they landed him. He can do it all. He has fantastic bounce, soaring over opponents for highlight-reel dunks. He’s got a second-to-none post game. His combination of speed, size, and power make him almost unguardable. He also has definitive skills on the defensive side of the ball, shown off by his average of 1.8 blocks and 2 steals per game in college.

If there is anything negative anyone could say about Zion, it’s his lack of a jump shot. While he has improved his mid-range jumpshot, he still lacks skills as a 3-point shooter. He only made 33% of his three-pointers last season, granted he only shot about 2 per game. His shooting stroke will need to be improved, even slightly, to fully maximize his game at the next level.

Even without counting on him as a three-point shooter, New Orleans would have been ridiculous to pass up on Zion. He’s a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the floor. With the departure of Anthony Davis due to trade, Zion becomes the perfect young centerpiece of a rebuilding Pelicans franchise. Zion is ready to take the league by storm, and New Orleans is ready to see a return to winning basketball.

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Pelicans Trade Anthony Davis to Los Angeles Lakers

It’s been a long time coming for the New Orleans Pelicans. After leaks of Anthony Davis trade demands began just before the trade deadline in February, one question has been at the forefront of every Pelicans fans’ mind, “Where is New Orleans going to send AD?” Well, that question has just been answered.

On June 15th at 5:27 PM, infamous NBA Insider and reporter Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the New Orleans Pelicans front office, led by newly acquired Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin, agreed to a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. In return for Davis, the Pelicans will receive Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks, one of which being the 4th overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft.

The Pelicans pulled a great haul for a generational talent in Davis. All three players they received are 24 years are younger, giving the Pels great young talent to build around. Ball, while not a fantastic scorer, shows endless potential in his playmaking and defensive skills. Ingram, when healthy, is a skilled scoring wing, putting up 18 points per game last season. Hart also gives a needed fire off the New Orleans bench. Gaining the 4th pick means they will have now have two top-4 picks, as they won the lottery back in May to be awarded the 1st overall pick. The 1st pick will presumably be Duke superstar Zion Williamson, a 6 foot 7 wrecking ball preparing to wreck havoc upon the NBA. The 4th pick is not so predictable though, as there is multiple routes New Orleans could choose to explore.

Whatever the case may be for the future, it sure looks bright in the present. The Pelicans took a negative situation due to non-stop media coverage on the Davis drama and turned into one of the most electrifying trades the NBA has ever seen. There is no doubt this trade will impact New Orleans and Los Angeles in a huge matter. While the future is not certain, one thing is for sure. Anthony Davis is no longer a Pelican.