The Saints are wounded entering their Week Six matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals but there are still some matchups that if the Saints win should give them the edge on Sunday.
Taysom Hill Vs Everybody
Taysom Hill is an incredible offensive weapon, not just because of his game last week Vs Seattle. Taysom has always been a weapon. Even before last week, he was averaging 5.6 yards per carry in his NFL career.
With the talent Hill has shown in his weapon role in the NFL, it’s confusing why Hill has not been a consistent weapon throughout his career week in and week out. Could It be Fumbles? (10 fumbles in 2020) injuries? he missed 8 games last season. Worried about the starting QB getting out of rhythm? truth is it could be a mixture of all. Either way, New Orleans needs to make him a focal point of what they do week in and week out.
Hill has had dominant games like last week in the past and then inexplicably the next week he’s barely used. At times it’s because he’s been the team’s primary backup at QB. Others the lack of usage has been a mystery.
That lack of consistent usage can’t happen again this week. The Saints have the makings of an offensive identity with a creative running game led by Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara.
The Taysom Hill package is one of the more creative packages in the league and one of the biggest headaches for opposing defenses. What player can make four defenders stare solely at them? Allowing a TE a completely free release up the seam for a touchdown? See the evidence of that in the tweet below:
That identity is even more important this week, as it stands the Saints will not have their top three WRs (Michael Thomas, Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry) available this weekend and the offense needs to continue its efficiency a lot of that efficiency has been built off the run, allowing the play-action passes to be particularly effective.
Since becoming the starter Dalton has had 11 completions from 12 attempts for 131 yards. That may not sound that exciting, but those throws are creating chunk plays in the passing game that are keeping drives alive. Without the top three WRs this weekend the need for play-action passes to be a creditable threat is even more important.
Saints Secondary Vs Big Plays
It’s looking very likely Marshon Lattimore will be out this weekend which is a huge blow for the Saints secondary, they lose their best cover CB and one of their better tacklers at the position as well.
Even with Lattimore available for the majority of last week, the Saints defense gave up a crazy amount of big plays (six plays of 32 yards or more) now one of those was a run however if you watch that I think the secondary is a big part as to why Kenneth Walker ran for 69 yards into the endzone.
This cannot continue to be a factor and this week on paper it shouldn’t, per Marcus Mosher on Twitter, the Bengals offense has the second least amount of big plays on offense so far this season with 21, (eight rushes of 10+ yards and 13 pass plays of more than 20 yards).
Traditionally the Bengals offense with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase has been a big play threat, they road this ability all the way to the Superbowl last season.
What makes the Saints defensive struggles so frustrating is they are dominating in three important metrics (third down percentage, fourth down percentage and red-zone percentage) as pointed out on Twitter by John Sigler (below)
John Sigler on Twitter: “Through 5 games, the Saints have the NFL’s 2nd-best defense on 3rd downs (29.9%, 20-for-67) 4th downs (25%, 1-for-4) Red zone (33.3%, 4-for-12) Winning where it matters most.” / Twitter
If the Saints can keep the big plays to a minimum this defense will dominate and ascend to where they belong (a top 5 unit in the league).
Saints Offense Vs Turnovers
Turnovers are still a massive problem for this Saints offense, even with Andy Dalton at the helm rather than Jameis Winston.
With Dalton starting the Saints offense has three turnovers, two of those have been Dalton (one Interception and a fumble) the other was Alvin Kamara lost fumble last week.
Yes, the offense has looked better and more in rhythm with Dalton leading the charge but they are still plagued with a problem that will cause them to lose a lot of games that they should win.
Kamara also has another fumble against Carolina and Week Three, I don’t bank on this continuing (Kamara has never lost more than two fumbles in a season since he entered the NFL but one of the players you want to give the ball to the most have two lost fumbles already is pause for concern.
The fumbles especially fall on the players of course but also the coaching staff, HC Dennis Allen needs to find a way to rectify one of the team’s biggest issues.
Former HC Sean Payton had some choice words for Mark Ingram on Kay Adams morning show, Up and Adams
With the possibility of being without many key players on Sunday, it’s going to be hard enough for the Saints to beat their opponent let alone having to beat themselves as well.
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