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Rookies of the Week – Week 2

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Another week in the books, and boy am I glad I extended this from three rookies to seven! These guys are setting records every week.

Let’s look at my standout seven from Week 2.

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Sam LaPorta, Tight End – Detroit Lions

It’s a position with one of the hardest jumps from college to professional; however, no one told LaPorta as he set an NFL record last weekend. With his five receptions for 63 yards, Sam is now the first tight end in NFL history to have five or more receptions in the first two games of their career.

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Marvin Mims Jr., Wide Receiver – Denver Broncos

Two catches were all it took for Mims Jr. to appear on this list. In the first half of the Broncos game against the Commanders, Mims had two targets, two receptions, 113 yards, and a touchdown. Unfortunately, though, he was unable to add to that as he wasn’t targeted again for the rest of the game.

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Puka Nacua, Wide Receiver – Los Angeles Rams

In Week 2, Nacua continued to make waves as he hauled in 15 catches for 147 yards. He has now set the record for most receptions for a single game by a rookie, as well as the record for most receptions by a rookie through their first two weeks with 25.

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Ivan Pace Jr., Linebacker – Minnesota Vikings

Could the Vikings have found one of the steals of the draft? After an impressive start to his career, Pace was given the starting job this week, and he repaid his coaches with seven tackles and one sack. Amazingly, he also has the highest pass rush grade among all linebackers.

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Bijan Robinson, Running Back – Atlanta Falcons

A second week in a row for Bijan on this list, and if he continues to play the way he’s started, he might not leave. Robinson had 124 yards of rushing against the Packers, with the highlight being a 19-yard run early in the second quarter featuring a surplus of missed tackles.

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John Michael Schmitz Jr., Center – New York Giants

After a tough start to the season, Schmitz bounced back immediately with a dominant performance, helping the Giants in their comeback win against the Arizona Cardinals. Schmitz played all 68 snaps in the game, allowing only one sack and posting positive grades in both run blocking and pass blocking.

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C.J. Stroud, Quarterback – Houston Texans

The Texans might be 0-2 to start the season, but that’s no fault of the young rookie. It was an outstanding performance against the Colts, as Stroud threw for 384 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He is currently the fourth-highest quarterback in passing yards with 626, despite being the most sacked quarterback across the first two weeks.

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Rookies of the Week – Week 1

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The return of the NFL season really had everything. Shock results, devastating injuries, struggling superstars, and outstanding rookies.

Let’s look at my standout seven from Week 1.

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Will Anderson Jr, Edge – Houston Texans

Emotions may have gotten the better of Anderson pre-game, but he was zoned in as soon as he stepped on the field to start his NFL career. The versatile rusher, who lined up predominantly on the left side, recorded four tackles, three hurries, two quarterback hits, and a sack against the normally elusive Lamar Jackson.

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Jalen Carter, Defensive Line – Philadelphia Eagles

Now that’s why he was touted as potentially going first overall! A 92.1 overall PFF grade puts Carter as the 2nd overall defensive tackle, and it’s not hard to see why. In a monstrous performance, Carter had eight pressures, one sack, and one assisted tackle. It’s no wonder that Mac Jones will be seeing him in his nightmares.

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Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver – Baltimore Ravens

Does Lamar Jackson have a new favourite weapon? Flowers continued his strong preseason with an outstanding showing against the Texans, and much like the later mentioned Bijan Robinson, he was making defenders miss all over the place. Nine catches on ten targets for 78 yards led the Ravens, while he also had two rushes for nine yards.

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Xavier Gipson, Wide Receiver – New York Jets

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of! No one saw the Jets game winner being an undrafted rookie free agent, but here we are. He forced his way into contention due to his electric preseason on special teams, which caught the eye of head coach Robert Salah. Now, thanks to his 65-yard walk-off punt return touchdown, he can now say he is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

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Puka Nacua, Wide Receiver – Los Angeles Rams

If you were asked to predict the only rookie receiver to go over 100 yards this weekend, I can guarantee no one would have mentioned Puka Nacua. With Cooper Kupp now on IR, the Rams needed someone to step up, and their fifth-rounder did just that. 14 targets, 10 receptions, and 119 yards. Job done.

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Anthony Richardson, Quarterback – Indianapolis Colts

Richardson wasn’t perfect by any means, as he played conservatively and had an ugly interception, but he is now the proud owner of two NFL records. Against the Jaguars, Richardson not only became the youngest player ever with a passing and rushing touchdown in the same game, but he also became the first rookie in history to have at least 200 passing yards, 40 rushing yards, a passing touchdown, and a rushing touchdown.

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Bijan Robinson, Running Back – Atlanta Falcons

A shared snap count with Allgeier didn’t count against Bijan on Sunday, as he finished with 10 rushes for 56 yards while adding six receptions on six targets for 27 yards and a touchdown in the passing game. Add in five forced missed tackles, including that disgraceful stop-start on an attempted tackle from Frankie Luvu, and you’ve got yourself a debut.

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Week 14 and 15: Rookie Standouts

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Is it just me, or is the season getting better every week? This week had it all: high-stakes drama, questionable refereeing, the biggest comeback win in NFL history, and possibly the most mind-blowing finish to a game this season. Since I missed last week’s entry, here are three rookies that stood out in weeks 14 and 15.

Week 14 

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Brock Purdy, Quarterback – San Francisco 49ers

Purdy looked confident in the pocket as he finished 16 of 21 for 185 yards and two touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 134.0, all of this while starting opposite the greatest of all time.

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Travon Walker, Edge – Jacksonville Jaguars

The number one pick in the draft finally regained that swagger as he ended his five-week sack drought with a dominant performance. Finishing with two hurries, one sack, and one fumble, he recorded a 91.6 PFF pass rush rating.

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Isiah Pacheco, Running Back – Kansas City Chiefs

After delivering solid rushing performances this season, Pacheco has started to become a threat in the passing game. Finishing the game with 93 all-purpose yards, he also forced five missed tackles with his aggressive running style.

Week 15 

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Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge – New York Giants

Thibodeaux bet the house on himself this week with a bold statement in the lead up to the Giants’ 20-12 win over the Washington Commanders. When asked if he liked prime time, the rookie responded with bravado and swagger: “Prime time like me.”

He backed up that quote straight away by stuffing two runs on the Commanders first possession before getting another on their second. Despite being shown on the sidelines getting oxygen, nothing was slowing him down. However, at the start of the 2nd quarter, he charged past Washington lineman Charles Leno Jr. to bat the ball out of Taylor Heinicke’s hands, pick up the fumble, and rumble in for his first career touchdown. Kayvon finished the day with 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 touchdown, and 12 tackles (9 solo).

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Tyler Allgeier, Running Back – Atlanta Falcons

This is probably an overdue appearance for the Falcons’ rookie running back. He’s quietly flown under the radar due to his split load with Cordale Patterson, but has made the most of his opportunities, picking up tough yards and first downs.

Despite a slow start this week, where he only had one carry in the first quarter, he quickly found his rhythm, and despite finishing on the losing side in the game against the New Orleans Saints, he managed to have a career day. Finishing with 139 yards from 17 carries, Allgeier tore up the Saints defence at a rate of 8.2 yards per carry, converting eight first downs and forcing six missed tackles, leading to 100 of his 139 yards coming after contact. He also converted a touchdown and a 2-point conversion. Allgeier now sits at 743 yards, only 280 yards behind the Falcons rookie rushing record set by William Andrews in 1979. 

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Jahan Dotson, Wide Receiver – Washington Commanders

In the last three weeks, Dotson has played the Giants twice either side of a well-deserved bye week, and on both occasions, the continued evolution of the chemistry between him and Taylor Heinicke has been in full flow, and as such, Dotson has been able to showcase his ability to make highlight reel catches.

The rookie out of Penn State eclipsed 100 yards for the first time in his career, with the majority of them coming after a 61-yard catch that almost sparked a late-game tying drive. With the Commanders backed up at their own 9-yard line, Heinicke uncorked a deep shot that Dotson managed to haul in despite impressive coverage by the Giants’ Jason Pinnock. Finishing the game with four receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown, Dotson took his touchdown total to six for the season, only two behind the Commanders rookie franchise record held by Charlie Brown.

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Week 1: Rookie Standouts

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For the upcoming season, I’m going to be looking at three rookies each week who either made a considerable contribution or flashed some brilliance that changed a game.

Normally I would plan for this to come out either Tuesday or Wednesday, but it’s a touch late as I’ve been in sunny Orlando getting my theme park fix. In fact, I’m writing this whilst waiting for my delayed flight, so here we go:

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Cade York, Kicker – Cleveland Browns

I feel I have to start this article off with some love for a rookie kicker, especially when the kicker in question made a game-winning 58-yard field goal in the dying embers of the game, fending off ex-Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield’s Carolina Panthers.

York, who was selected in the fourth round by a Browns team that wanted some stability at the position, have been rewarded instantly. In fact, this was the first time Cleveland has won in the opening week of a season since a 20-3 win over the Baltimore Ravens in 2004.

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Drake London, Wide Reciever – Atlanta Falcons

After suffering a preseason knee injury, the Falcons were unsure if London would be able to suit up for their opener against divisional rivals the New Orleans Saints, and although they were ultimately the losing team, they will be happy with how the future looks.

London, the first receiver selected in the draft, showed no niggling effects of his knee injury as he hauled in five receptions for 74 receiving yards, including a 31-yard gain where he ghosted through the Saints’ coverage to help setup a field goal.

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Dominique Robinson, Edge – Chicago Bears

The salary cap situation that new Bears GM Ryan Poles inherited forced his hand into trading away standout Edge rusher Khalil Mack, but luckily for him, Robinson balled out in his debut.

Not only did he lead all rookies in sacks (1.5) and defensive stops (6, tied with Devin Lloyd), but incredibly, Robinson led all players in defensive stop rate. Even more impressive was that he was only on the field for 28 of the 68 defensive snaps the Bears took  

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Saints Win, Recapping The Saints Week 1 Win Over The Falcons Quarter By Quarter.

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Somehow the Saints are leaving week 1, 1-0. With 13:40 left in the 4th quarter the Falcons had a 97.6% chance to win this game according to Next Gen Stats and to some fans giving the Saints a 2.4% chance to win seemed too generous. So, quarter by quarter lets see how New Orleans mounted an unbelievable comeback.

Before going into the breakdown, I wanted to start with an admission. I was wrong, in my preview of this game I made a mistake. I predicted this game based on conventional wisdom and logic. What I should have done was predicted this game based on my years of Saints fandom. This game was ludicrous, as a lot of Saints and more specifically Saints-Falcons games are, especially week 1. I should have known better and will try to not make the same error again!  

Now I’ve got that off my chest lets move onto the breakdown.

Quarter 1

The Saints struggles were clear straight from the opening Atlanta drive. They couldn’t contain the Falcon’s creative running game. Marcus Mariota looked really good on this drive with two 11 yard runs and 1 of 5 yards. Before the Saints defense finally stiffened up after the Falcons inexplicably decided to pass and forcing a field goal.

Unfortunately, this opening drive was an ominous sign of things to come for Saints fans.

Two of my Saint’s breakout candidates for this season featured on the first offense drive. Unfortunately, one is Juwan Johnson who looked to be held on a third down incompletion (more on Johnson later) and the other? Punter Blake Gillikin as the Saints wen three and out quickly. Gillikin did boom an excellent 58-yard punt, that with better punt coverage from Alontae Taylor (who flashed multiple times as a gunner today), would have pinned the Falcons around their own 10-yard line.

More on my 3 Saints breakout candidates here-Three Saints Players That Could Breakout In 2022 (

The Saints’ defense was much better on the 2nd Atlanta drive, 2 good plays by Marcus Maye, one on what appeared to be a run blitz, he nearly stopped Damien Williams for a loss but couldn’t quite make the tackle, leaving Cam Jordan to clean up the tackle for no gain, after a deep incompletion to Patterson. Maye again made a good play of 3rd down; he quickly recognised a WR screen and broke on it to stop the play for a minimal gain and got the Saints defense off the field.

The ensuing offensive drive was much more promising for New Orleans, they marched 77 yards on 5 plays, taking just 2 Minutes and 2 seconds to punch it in for a touchdown. The success of this drive was down to Taysom Hill and a little help from his friends. Hill started with a 57-yard rumble on 3rd and 1, Hill showed great vision and power on the run juking and stiff arming a Falcon defender on route. Hill did have a massive hole to run through though with great blocks from FB Adam Prentice, LG Andrus Peat who pulled over to the right side and TE’s Adam Trautman and Juwan Johnson.

Hill capped of the drive with another strong 11-yard touchdown run again to the right side, with an even better block from TE Juwan Johnson, he drove his man to sideline, shoutout to Mark Ingram for leading the way as essentially the FB on the play and Erik McCoy showed why the Saints signed him to a new 5 year deal this week, by getting to the second level with ease to clear the backend of the defense.

The momentum was all Saints after this drive, with the next play from scrimmage being a great FF by Peter Werner giving the Saints the ball back in good position at the Atlanta 43.

Pete Werner forces a fumble! – YouTube

Unfortunately, after 2 good Mark Ingram runs (7 and 6 yards) the offense stalled, at this stage of the game the Saints’ passing offense was completely out of sync.  Winston completed 2 of his 6-passing attempts for 6 yards.

This could have been down to Winston’s missed time with his new teammates in the offseason? This could have been Pete Carmichael finding his feet as the play caller? or a mix of both. It also didn’t help the O-line was struggling in pass protection, a theme that would continue (more on that later).  Either way it wasn’t working.

To add to the offensive woes, Will Lutz bonked the 44-yard filed goal attempt of the left upright. Meaning no points off the Atlanta turnover and this spelt a major change in the momentum of this game.

1st / 2nd Quarter  

After the miss, Atlanta went to work on a bully ball 9 play, 66-yard touchdown drive which started at the end of the 1st quarter and ended in the 2nd. Atlanta ran the ball right at the Saints front, Patterson accounted for 53 of the 66 total yards all on the ground. The Saints were missing tackles and did not seem like the same team that had dominated against the run in the 4 years prior. Atlanta took their first lead of the game.

2nd Quarter

This quarter was much of the same after the Falcons touchdown drive. The Saints did show some resistance against the run in the Falcons next drive. But that was short lived.

Meanwhile the passing attack of the Saints was completely out of rhythm and couldn’t get anything going. There were players open but the pass protection could not hold up, especially when the Falcons blitzed. Both James Hurst and Cesar Ruiz gave up quick sacks, killing drives where players were open, Winston just had no time to get the ball out. The Saints gave up 3 sacks in this quarter and 1.5 of those were to Grady Jarrett (a player I highlighted in the game preview).

The Falcons managed 2 field goal drives mainly led by Mariota and Patterson on the ground. With a big completion to rookie Drake London mixed in there for good measure. Saints went into half time in disarray and down 16-7.

3rd Quarter

The Saints started with the ball and showed signs of life. Alvin Kamara started the drive with a nice 5-yard run, his best gain of the day so far. Chris Olave had his first catch of his NFL career with a crucial 11-yard catch on 3rd and 4 to keep the drive alive.

Taysom Hill had another solid 9-yard gain at this point Hill was still looking like the best weapon the Saints had. The passing game started to click, with Michael Thomas finally getting his first catch after being targeted 2 times previously.

The protection issues ultimately let them down, with a big 9-yard loss on a sack from Mykal Walker on, yet again another unpicked-up blitz.

The Saints did manage a 49-yard field goal. After a good gain on 3rd down to Chris Olave. This was needed for Lutz after the miss earlier.

Just when it looked like the Saints could build some momentum, the Falcons marched down the field for a touchdown. Aided by Marcus Maye picking up a pass interference penalty on a pass intended for Olamide Zaccheaus, placing the ball at the Saints 2-yard line.  Zaccheaus was a pest this drive having 2 catches for 20 yards before forcing the PI. The Falcons punched it in with a Mariota run up the gut.

The next offensive series started well and ended in disaster. A nice 15-yard gain on the ground for Kamara to start, ending with Winston avoiding pressure on 3rd down again, desperately shovelling the ball to Ingram who tried to make something happen and fumbled right back to the Falcons.

With a short field the Falcons offense looked to land the decisive blow, with a pass to the London and Mariota scramble the Falcons were inside the red zone. The Saints finally got pressure on Mariota, he escaped and scrambled towards the 5-yard line, a typical play for Saints fans considering how the game was going. When a turning point play came to the rescue, and it was made by the 2 free agent safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye. Mathieu pulled one of Mariota’s arms of the ball and Marcus Maye punched it out, with Mathieu falling on it. It was a textbook play by the veteran duo.

It went from being first and goal at the Saints 5- yard line, already down by 13 to 1st and 10 with no points added to Atlanta’s lead.

Now, this was just the start of the change in momentum, the offense didn’t quite come to the party just yet. The Saints went 3 and out in only 3 plays from the ensuing possession. Saints fans figured the fumble was just a way to give the fans hope and a way for the team to play with their emotions, with the offense still stuck in neutral.

On a slightly brighter side all the punts did give us a chance to see 2nd round pick Alontae Taylor as a gunner, he was really impressive getting down the field in a hurry, just needs to work on finishing the play at the end, after missing a couple of tackles. Also, Blake Gillikin is still a stud.

3rd/4th Quarter

The Falcons got the ball back with 1 minute 40 left in the 3rd quarter on the 50-yard line, after a nice 18-yard return from Avery Williams. Giving them another short field with the chance to put the game to bed with a touchdown.

At this point the Saints seemed so scared against the run they were playing a lot of base defense (4-3) and were still struggling to stop the Falcons rushing attack.  They were quickly inside New Orleans’ 10-yard line after an 18-yard pass to KhaDarel Hodge. Crucially the defense held with help from a Falcons false start and stiff bend but don’t break redzone defense. Forcing Atlanta to settle for a short field goal to go up 26-10 with 12:41 to go in the fourth.

4th Quarter

Now, this where the Saints offense came to the party. OC Pete Carmichael went to the hurry up offense, a staple of Sean Payton’s tenure and it appears Sneaky Pete isn’t too shabby at calling it either.

Starting with a huge 26-yard connection to my guy TE Juwan Johnson, 15-yard pass to Kamara. A beautiful bomb across the middle to Jarvis Landry. Capped off by a bullet pass on a fade route to Michael Thomas in the endzone, we didn’t know yet that would light a fire in CantGuardMike. Just like that, 5 plays 74 yards in just 1 minute and 29 seconds. The Saints finished the perfect drive, at the perfect time, with the perfect 2-point play. A beautiful play design and route by Chris Olave.

For more on where the Saints got this play, see this thread on twitter from writer Luke Johnson:

Falcons are still up 26-18 with 11:06 left to go. Surely, they can’t blow another big lead, in the 4th quarter, can they? Well…. Let’s see, shall we? They started well and worked they up to their own 45-yard line with a mix of run and pass, the Saints had started to stiffen up against the run which was promising. The Saints’ defense managed to force a punt after a 3rd and 3 run stop by Shy Tuttle and Cameron Jordan.

Getting the ball back on their own 14-yard line, with 07:04 to go. On came a defiant Jameis Winston and the buoyant Saints offense. Starting with a reception from an Ohio State Buckeye (Chris Olave) and ending with a catch from an Ohio State Buckeye (Michael Thomas) Jameis Winston looked locked in, with the Saints completing their longest drive of the game going 86 yards in 8 plays and crucially only taking 3 minutes 27 of the clock. Thomas, Olave, and Landry all looked excellent on this drive, Thomas especially looking back to his best with 3 catches for 50 yards and a TD on the drive.

Unfortunately, the 2-point try this time was not as successful with a direct snap to Mark Ingram going nowhere, you have to wonder why this didn’t go to Taysom Hill? Leaving the Saints down 2, with 03:38 left.

Falcons started strong, rushing for 21 yards on the first 3 plays (Mariota and Patterson again!) the Saints used their first timeout after the 3rd run, leaving 02:03 on the clock. Pete Werner (who had an overall excellent game, 13 tackles, 1 TFL and a FF) made a crucial play to drop Mariota for a loss on 2nd down as the 2-minute warning hit.

With clock stopped at 01:59 the officials decided they weren’t getting enough attention and decided to call a weak defensive holding on Marshon Lattimore on 3rd down, after Mariota air mailed a ball down field nowhere near anyone. Giving the Falcons a fresh set of downs with 01:52 remaining. Ball placed on the Atlanta 49, crucially the Saints had one timeout remaining, stuffed Patterson for minimal gain on first down. 2nd and 9 Mariota nearly get a first down with an 8-yard scamper, leaving it down to 3rd and 1 at the Saints 42.

Mariota fumbled the snap, recovered it but only enough to get back to the line of scrimmage. Hope was still alive for the Saints.

At their own 20-yard line the Saints had 48 seconds left with no timeouts. Winston produced the throw of the game a 40-yard completion to Jarvis Landry down the left sideline, a perfect throw and it needed to be with 2 Falcons defenders in the area. Landry made a spectacular play caught it and ran for a few more yards, before going out of bounds.

The Saints rushed to the Atlanta 40-yard line, to try and spike it as they believed Landry had been ruled down by contact inbounds, meaning the clock was still running. The Saints got set and spiked it, then a flag. The refs had ruled that Landry was not touched and had got out of bounds, meaning when Winston spike the ball inside the pocket, it was actually intentional grounding. Meaning the Saints lost 10 yards and lost a down. This was a confusing sequence, and it appears the refs got it wrong as Landry was touched his way to the ground.

Alas, the Saints completed one more pass the Juwan Johnson for 17 yards. With no timeouts, Winston rushed to spike the ball again, believing he had one more down, due to the intentional grounding this now meant it was 4th and 4 after the spike not 3rd and 4 as Winston seemed to believe. Winston had just given the Falcons a chance to keep one of their timeouts and left 23 seconds on the clock.

Will ‘Big Nutz’ Lutz as he’s known in Saints world drilled the 51-yard attempt to give the Saints the lead 27-26.

Saints’ fans including me, were nervous, we’ve seen this movie before, and we don’t like the ending. With 19 seconds left and all 3 timeouts, the Falcons started at their own 25-yard line. Following 2 straight incompletions, it was 3rd and 10. The Saints got to Mariota and caused a fumble. Typically, the refs blow the play dead, saying the Falcons had called a timeout prior to the snap.

Try again, this time a 1st down completion to Patterson the Falcons weren’t done yet, they used their 2nd timeout. 6 seconds to go the pass was complete for 5 yards and the clock hit zero. That was it the Saints had pulled off the epic 4th quarter comeback. Wait, hang on, nope the refs again after some time, intervened. Stating the Falcons had called a timeout with 2 seconds left. Not only that but they had also judged a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Marshon Lattimore (admittingly it was a bad play from Lattimore).

Meaning it all came down to this, ‘Mr Automatic’ Younghoe Koo. Had a chance from 63-yards out to snatch victory away from the Saints in heart-breaking fashion.

But there was one final twist, the kick left Koo’s foot at a low trajectory due to the distance and it’s blocked by Peyton Turner! Saints Win and this time it counted!


The Saints came back when they had no business doing so and in true Saints fashion gave all their fans all they could handle.

I tweeted at halftime that this was a game the Saints just needed to find a way to win, and they did just that, with a bit of help from the Falcons yet again blowing a double-digit 4th quarter lead.

Finally, shoutout @ATLFalconsUK who had this glorious twitter exchange with me during the 3rd quarter!

The Saints will need to be a lot better next week in the home opener against the Bucs. But, if the team from the 4th quarter shows up all game/season long. This is going to be a fun one.

I will be previewing of all and recapping all of the New Orleans Saints games this season on New Orleans Saints – Full10Yards

Please let me know your feedback on this article and the rest throughout the season, I’m always looking to improve and add things that people want to read about. I will back later in the week to preview Bucs@ Saints, so please keep an eye out for that.

I want to create as much of a UK Saints community as possible, so please follow me on Twitter @SaintsReportUK, for much more Saints content and discussion

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Week 1 Preview Saints @ Falcons- Key Matchups And More

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It’s finally here! the first NFL Sunday of the 2022-2023 NFL season is two days away. It’s time to preview the New Orleans Saints week 1 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. I’m going to discuss 3 key matchups. A position to watch, whos playing and whos not? and of course the result.


The Saints enter week 1 as the favourite against the rival Falcons. Both teams have many new faces, most notably Tyrann Mathieu for the Saints and a new starting QB in Atlanta. Marcus Mariota succeeds franchise legend Matt Ryan after he was traded to the Colts in the offseason (much to Cam Jordan’s dismay). Mariota will give the New Orleans defense a totally different challenge compared to Ryan. Mariota is far more mobile, Arthur Smith is likely to try use this mobility by running the read-option, plenty and often. Unless the Saints show improvement at containing it. The Saints have struggled to defend this plenty over the last few seasons.

These two teams are at very different stages, the Saints with a largely veteran team, should be a playoff team this season and if things go their way, a legit Superbowl contender. Whereas the Falcons are at the start of a rather large rebuild, with very few players to build around.

One paper this should be a walk in the park for the Saints. However, this is a divisional game and one of the NFL’s more heated rivalries. Nothing can be taken for granted here, especially in week 1.

3 Key matchups/Players To Watch

Michael Thomas And The Saints New WRs

One of the primary things I will be watching, how does Michael Thomas and the 2 new Saints receivers look? We haven’t seen Thomas play since 2020 and that was at far less than 100%.

If Michael Thomas is 85% of the player he was, then that is huge for this Saints team and QB Jameis Winston. Reports from camp suggest that 85% might be a conservative number too.

Things have changed considerably since the 2020. Meaning that even Thomas at 85% will give the Saints 3 legit studs at WR, with the additions of Jarvis Landry and Rookie Chris Olave.

It will be interesting to see how Landry’s game meshes with Winston’s. Traditionally Winston prefers to through deep and outside the numbers, whereas Landry’s game has been more in-between the numbers in the short and intermediate range. All signs so far seem good but we need to see it in regular season action.

Lastly, Chris Olave. The Ohio State sensation joins a whole host of other Buckeyes on the roster. How does he match up against good NFL corners? One of the main concerns coming out of college was, if he can be physical enough against press man coverage to get open? All reports from camp have been glowing in this regard. We just need to see it in action now.

This matchup against future all-pro A.J. Terrell and excellent vet Casey Hayward should provide a good measuring stick for the Saints to see where their top 3 WRs are at.

Who Does Marshon Lattimore Match Up Against?

I’m interested to see if Marshon Lattimore will travel against Kyle Pitts. Traditionally Lattimore matches up well against bigger and more physical pass catchers. Compared to the smaller more twitchy players.

So, from a style perspective Pitts fits well for the Saints to match him up against Lattimore. It also wouldn’t hurt for the Saints to take Pitts out of the game as much a possible by having Lattimore on him.

Now, where this get interesting. What do the Saints then do with rookie Drake London? The 6ft 5 210lb first round pick out of USC, also fits the mold of a player worth putting Lattimore on.

So do the Saints just play sides? And let Lattimore lockdown one side of the field and just see who lines up opposite him?

I’m very interested to see how they decide to defends the 2 mammoth pass catchers.

Grady Jarrett Vs The Interior O-Line Especially Cesar Ruiz

Grady Jarret is a game wrecker, a star and one of the best at his position. Whether it be defending the run or rushing the passer, Jarrett can do it all.

So how does the Saints interior O-line hold up against him? I expect Erik McCoy who is a top 5 Center in the league to do just fine, he might lose a few reps but all in all hold up very well. McCoy just got a fully deserved, fat new contract. He will really earn his money against Jarrett this week.

More on McCoy’s new deal here- Saints, center Erik McCoy agree to five-year extension worth up to $63.75M (

The question comes when Jarrett matches up over LG Andrus Peat and RG Cesar Ruiz. Peat is coming off a season ending pec injury and can be inconsistent. This matchup will be a strong test in his first regular season game back.

RG Cesar Ruiz is in a make or break year. The former 1st round pick is going into his 3rd NFL season and there’s not been too much to celebrate from his play on the field. Reports are that he has massively improved his game this offseason. If that’s true we should find out pretty quickly here. I’m not expecting Ruiz to win every snap against Jarrett, that wouldn’t be a fair standard to set. But to see improvement would be huge for the Saints O-line.

If the Saints are going to be the team I expect them to be this season, then they really need their interior O-line to be a strong, especially in the run game. This was an area of weakness last season, compared to years past.

That’s why I think this is one of the key matchups to watch.  

A Position To Watch

That position? Safety and more specifically how will the Safeties be used?

When former HC Sean Payton ‘retired’ the Saints wanted to keep continuity. Hence keeping a lot of the same staff and promoting former DC Dennis Allen to the Head Coach.

Well, continuity is not the word to use to describe the Safety position. Versatility is.  

After losing starting safeties Marcus Williams in free agency and Malcolm Jenkins to retirement. The Saints added 2 new starting safeties, in Louisiana native and LSU hero Tryann Mathieu and Former Jet Marcus Maye.

Marcus Williams was an excellent safety for the Saints but, we was fairly predictable. Generally lining up as a deep safety. In Mathieu and Maye the Saints have 2 players who can line up anywhere, they can player deep as a single safety or in 2 safety looks. They can both play in the box in zone or man coverage to cover TEs/RBs. They can help in run support and be productive blitzers, they can even cover the slot.

What this means is Dennis Allen now has 2 cheese pieces that he can move around the defense all game long, to fit a certain matchup, a certain tendency, or to simply confuse. These 2 could be anywhere at any time. Causing huge amounts of confusion for the opposing Qb’s. As they will be in one position pre snap and somewhere complete different post snap.  

This is going to festinating to see what how Dennis Allen and Co-Defensive Coordinators Kris Richard and Ryan Nielsen decide to deploy these 2 in their first game as New Orleans Saints.

State of the rosters

Saints Injury report:

WR- TreQuan Smith- OUT

RB- Dwayne Washington- OUT

CB- Paulson Adebo-OUT

T- Landon Young- Questionable

WR-Michael Thomas- Questionable

S-J.T. Gray-Questionable

S- Tyrann Mathieu- Questionable

C- Erik McCoy- No designation

LB-Pete Werner- No designation

Falcons Injury report:

TE- Parker Hesse- No designation

CB- Darren Hall- Questionable

WR- Drake London- Questionable

Key Saints things to take from this? all signs seem to point to Michael Thomas playing. With Paulson Adebo out, all reports suggest that Bradley Roby will start at outside CB opposite Marshon Lattimore. With Justin Evans and/or P.J. Williams manning the slot. With no designation that means Pete Werner will play which is hugely important for the Saints run defense.

Key Falcons things to take from this? simply that rookie WR Drake London appears to be ready to make his NFL debut.


I think the Saints defense dominate and confuse Mariota. With a wide range of coverages pre and post snap and a ferocious pass rush that gives him very little time to throw.

 I think the offense will be efficient in all areas, with the run game excelling.

Result- Saints Win 27-10

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