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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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