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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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Five Things: Week 16 – Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants

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The Giants went toe-to-toe with the Vikings this week before Greg Joseph sealed the 27-24 Minnesota victory, putting an end to Giants fans’ hopes of clinching a playoff berth with two games remaining. Here are five things that stood out:

One-Score Game…Again

Prior to Sunday’s matchup, both the Vikings (10) and the Giants (8) had combined for a total of 18 wins by one score, so it was written in the stars that this week’s encounter would end in the same way. By virtue of Greg Joseph’s 61-yard field goal, the Vikings now have 11 wins, the most one-possession wins in NFL history, only a week after they claimed the biggest comeback win record.

Admittedly, being in close games is something that has benefited the Giants this season, with our record in such games now 8-3-1, but with the personnel that we currently have on the roster, it’s not a sustainable model for success. The Giants have only been in three games that were not decided by a single score: losses to Seattle, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

Even more concerning is the fact the Giants haven’t scored more than 30 points this season and haven’t been over 25 since their trip to London. The last game in which the Giants scored more than 30 and won was a 41-35 overtime win against the then-Washington Redskins in December 2019.

Good But Not Quite Enough

The most frustrating part of the loss to the Vikings was that for most of the game, the Giants not only proved that they were deserving of their record but that, for the most part, they were an equal competitor. The stat line after the game showed that the Giants not only outgained their opponents, 445-353, but they also matched their first down total of 23 as well. The issue was a series of miscues that likely prevented the Giants from walking away with the win.

The Giants lost the turnover battle 2-0, with the usually reliable rookie Daniel Bellinger losing a fumble late in the first quarter and Daniel Jones throwing an interception to Patrick Peterson early in the fourth. There was also a blocked punt that set up the Vikings deep in the Giants’ territory, a series of penalties on both sides of the ball, and two drops in the fourth quarter by Richie James, one of which killed a drive and forced the Giants to settle for a field goal.

The State of the Receivers

It’s no secret that the Giants’ wide receiver group has struggled this year. Kenny Golladay, who accounts for 10% of the Giants’ total salary cap, is currently sitting at 51 yards for the season, while Isaiah Hodgins, who is our third-lowest-paid player, has 350 despite playing one less game. Astoundingly, yesterday’s starting trio of Darius Slayton, Richie James Jr., and the aforementioned Hodgins account for a combined 2.5 million dollars, which is less than Jahan Dotson’s or Chris Olave’s rookie contracts.

Despite this, the three managed to combine for 258 yards on 26 targets, easily the best performance from the Giants’ starting wide receivers this season. Hodgins, who was previously on the Bills practise squad, was outstanding once again, finishing the game with another touchdown and likely the highlight moment for the offence with his full-stretch catch. Slayton made the most of his limited targets, converting one short pass for 32 yards and setting up Saquon Barkley’s late touchdown, and James, despite his drops, still finished with a team-leading 90 yards on eight catches.

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Improving Defensive Line

As part of a continuing trend, the Giants’ defensive front was able to generate almost consistent pressure on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins thanks to defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s blitz schemes. Obviously, this can prove to be a double-edged sword, which the Vikings were able to take advantage of late in the game, but with the Giants’ defensive backfield as weak as it is, it’s a risk worth taking.

This week, the Giants’ defenders were able to spread the load as Leonard Williams, Azeez Ojulari, Oshane Ximines, Jaylon Smith, and Landon Collins all recorded sacks. However, one huge contributor to this recent resurgence has been the return of Azeez Ojulari. Since his return in Week 13, the Giants’ sack average has gone from 1.9 sacks per game to a phenomenal 4.75 sacks per game. Ojulari’s individual stat line during this time? 16 pressures, 7 hurries, 4 quarterback hits, and five sacks.

Just One More Win

The biggest silver lining here, though, was that despite the loss, the Giants’ playoff hopes are no worse off than they were prior to the game. With the Seattle Seahawks losing to Kansas City, the Lions losing to the Panthers, and the 49ers beating the Commanders, none of the Giants’ closest rivals gained any ground.

Due to this, the clinching scenario for the Giants this coming week against the Colts is simple, win and you’re in. Otherwise it’s a case of scoreboard watching and hoping that the following happens:

Seattle loss + Washington loss or

Seattle loss + Detroit loss + Green Bay loss or tie or

Washington loss + Detroit loss + Green Bay loss

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Vikings @ Saints London Game Preview

Despite it only being week four this is an incredibly pivotal game for the 2022-2023 New Orleans Saints. It might not quite be a must-win, but it’s certainly not far away. Let’s see where both teams are at heading into Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

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Saints Offense Vs Vikings Defense

The Saints very easily could be 0-3 and staring down the barrel of a completely wasted season instead they sit 1-2 thanks to a miracle fourth-quarter comeback against Atlanta in week one. Only one game off the lead in the division.

Minnesota laid a beat down on the Packers in week one, then got a similar beatdown put on them in week two by the juggernaut Eagles. Week 3 brought a very similar comeback win against the Lions as the Saints did in week one against Atlanta. 

Both teams could be on the other side of results giving them very different outlooks. Even though the Saints are 1-2 and the Vikings are 2-1 both teams feel like they could end up being very similar.

Offensively so far, the Saints have been a mess for 10 of 12 quarters this season. Jameis Winston having four fractures in his back certainly doesn’t help this. His mobility is clearly affected and that has cost the Saints so far, there have been times where he could have scrambled for first downs or to extend drives or moved to avoid rushes and he clearly hasn’t been able to do it.  

Therefore, a QB change is coming to give Winston a chance to heal up. The ‘Red Rifle’ Andy Dalton took first-team reps all week in practice. Winston is listed as doubtful and all reports are, he’s unlikely to play on Sunday.

There’s no guarantee that Dalton will be better than Winston. However, there is reason to believe that he could operate the offense with more rhythm than Winston has been able to. Dalton has shown throughout his career that he’s willing and able to get through his progressions quickly and take the check down. Something this offense has been missing and needs at times to keep drives going.

This could finally be the game for Alvin Kamara to shine in the passing game and look for the Saints to use Kamara to attack Jordan Hicks in coverage. 

The problems with offense do not just sit with Winston and his injured back and they are much different from problems faced this time last season. Last year the Saints were too injured and completely void of talent at the skill positions.

This year, it’s the opposite. They arguably have the best WR core in the league, especially with the emergence of rookie sensation Chris Olave and to date, no offensive starters have been lost for the season (touch wood) unlike this time last year. Olave and Jarvis Landry should find ways to win Vs this Vikings secondary. 

Former all-pro Patrick Peterson has started the season well. The same can’t quite be said for his other starting CBs. Cameron Dantzler and slot corner Chandon Sullivan both have allowed more than a 100-passer rating when targeted so far this year. 

So, what’s the problem? Well, it seems everything else. Turnovers, Penalties and struggles against the Blitz.  For more analysis on these offensive issues see

I expect to see the Vikings test the Saints’ defense early and often with the Blitz.

The Vikings have star pass rushers Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith. Expect to see Smith lined up inside on certain packages to add to the deception of the blitz. The Vikings also possess two LBs that are more than effective blitzing in Jordan Hicks and Eric Kendricks. The Saints will need to prove early that they have fixed their issues against the blitz otherwise despite not being a blitzing team the Vikings will keep coming early and often.

The offense doesn’t need to score 30 points per game as it has in the past to win games. With how this defense is playing right now 21-24 points with minimal turnovers feels like a formula to win more games than you lose.

Saints’ Defense Vs Vikings Offense  

The Vikings have star pass rushers Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith. Expect to see Smith lined up inside on certain packages to add to the deception. The Vikings also possess two LBs that are more than effective blitzing in Jordan Hicks and Eric Kendricks. The Saints will need to prove early that they have fixed their issues against the blitz otherwise despite not being a blitzing team the Vikings will keep coming early and often.

The Saints’ defense overall has played well but mainly because of their coverage. Marshon Lattimore is playing like the best CB in the league through three weeks. He will have another tough test this weekend against Vikings star Justin Jefferson (more on this matchup here ). The Saints could have their training camp MVP back fully opposite Lattimore. 

Paulson Adebo was worked back in last week against Carolina, it’s expected that he will see more snaps this week. That could be huge for New Orleans considering the WRs they are expected to face on Sunday.

The pass rush needs to improve and has struggled to get pressure without blitzing. The Saints need to start getting pressure just with the front four. Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport need to get going. They have one sack between them so far.

Vitally the Saints need to do a better job stopping the run. With Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison on the other side, both have started the season well and are a massive threat to, a so far fragile and very uncharacteristically porous Saints rush defense (allowing 139.3 yards per game so far) more on the Dalvin good vs Saints rush defense here .

State of the Rosters 

A rather lengthy list of injuries for New Orleans, many carrying no injury designation meaning they will play on Sunday. 

QB Jameis Winston is Doubtful for Sunday and all reports are he will not be playing leaving Andy Dalton to start. 

Unfortunately, the Saints will also be without star WR Michael Thomas a player whose skills would have definitely been accentuated by Dalton’s style of play. All reports are the Toe injury shouldn’t keep him out long-term, so hopefully, him being out is more precautionary to make sure the injury isn’t made worse and keep him out longer.

Saints will also be without starting LG Andrus Peat and starting safety Marcus Maye. Not having both players hurt, backup LG Calvin Throckmorton looked rough last week after Peat went out. Not having Maye hurts quite a lot, backup safety P.J. Williams will need to step up again. We could even see Justin Evans take some safety snaps despite playing solely from the slot so far this year. 

With Adebo back, that likely means Roby moves to the slot. Freeing Evans to play some more safety.

Seems unlikely 2nd round rookie Andrew Booth will make his season debut after being listed as doubtful. 

Za’Darius Smith is listed as questionable, HC Kevin O’Connell has been quoted that Smith is a true game-time decision, but is trending upwards (so I’m sure he will play).

Otherwise fairly clean injury for the Vikings.

Score Prediction

Tough one here, I like to predict things I can root for, thus generally you won’t see me pick against the Saints. This is the first game so far this year where my head says I should.

However, I can see a path for them to win this game so I’m going with that. Saints win 24-21.

For more Saints articles New Orleans Saints – Full10Yards 

Please let me know your feedback on this article and the others throughout the season, I’m always looking to improve and add things that people want to read about!

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

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Analysing Three Key Matchups To Watch For Vikings ‘@’ Saints

The New Orleans Saints need to find a way to win on Sunday. No matter how win ugly if you have to. There are three key matchups the Saints need to be on the right side of to win on Sunday in London.

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Saints Offense Vs Themselves

The Saints lead the league in turnovers with nine in total. Now, before everyone shouts, well you have Jameis Winston at QB what do you expect? He’s not the reason the Saints lead the league in this category. 

Of Winston’s five interceptions only two are bad throws. Even one of those was more a good coverage scheme than an interception that Winston has become known for. The bigger problems have been fumbles. 

Mark Ingram has lost two fumbles, both coming at crucial times in weeks one and two. Alvin Kamara lost one last week that was returned for a touchdown, the Saints ended up losing by eight against Carolina. 

They have 9 offensive penalties so far through three games. Many killing the few good drives the Saints offense has produced. four of those nine penalties have been preventable (false starts, offensive offsides etc). 

Recognising, defending and attacking the blitz has been a consistent drive killer. The offense has struggled against the blitz in all three games so far. Winston has been sacked six times against the blitz and pressured a further 12 times. 

This has clearly been a problem and has cost the Saints big time in games. For example HIGHLIGHT: Jeremy Chinn hits Jameis Winston for big sack ( the lost yardage on this sack caused a missed field goal for New Orleans. This needs to be cleaned up, some of the blame falls on the o-line, some on coaching and some on the QB. 

If this was a lot of other QBs in the league (maybe even Andy Dalton who may end up starting on Sunday), they’d have changed the play at the line to a quicker developing pass play, allowing the offense to punish the Panthers for sending that many players. Right now, that awareness isn’t there. Meaning teams can tee up blitzes, at will with no fear of a counter.

If these issues were isolated and occasional then it does come down to the players doing a better job of executing. When these issues are so widespread and consistent then an equal portion of the blame must land on the coaches. The offensive staff led by OC Pete Carmichael Jr. have to do a better job of ironing out these areas of weakness and putting the players in better positions to succeed. 

Run Defense Vs Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook is one of the most dynamic RBs in the NFL and he is the focal point of the Vikings’ offense. The Vikings want to be able to establish the run to allow for play-action to at its most effective.

In three previous meetings with the Saints, Cook has played rather well. Across those three games, he averages 21.6 (22) rushes for 96 yards, at 4.2 yards per carry. This is compares favourably to other RBs against the Saints over this time. Since 2017 New Orleans has only allowed 94 yards rushing per game in that span. The stat considers every rushing yard in a game, a random QB scramble, a blown assignment allowing a random long run etc… so for Cook to average above that on his own is impressive. 

Play action has been effective so far for the Vikings. Kirk Cousins has the third-best passing grade in the league on play-action throws. His stats on play-action passes:

  • 34 attempts, 25 completions for 267 yards. Four TDs to zero Interceptions. 135.5 passer rating

Compare that to his stats on none play-actions throws:

  • 85 attempts, 49 completions for 491 yards. One TD to three interceptions. 63.4 passer rating.

It’s clear that so far this season the Vikings success in the passing game comes from establishing the run. So, the Saints priority must be to stop the running game if they want a chance to win on Sunday.

Marson Lattimore vs Justin Jefferson 

Marson Lattimore has been lights out. In three games he’s only been thrown at Seven times, he’s allowed three receptions for 23 yards and a passer rating against of 51.5. All the while he’s lined up against: 

  • Drake London
  • Kyle Pitts
  • Mike Evans 
  • Russel Gage 
  • D.J. Moore 

I’d say that’s pretty good. This weekend it’s not clear if he will shadow Justin Jefferson or not and I’m interested to see if the Saints elect to have Lattimore travel with Jefferson or if they choose to play sides.

They chose the latter last week @ Carolina and they don’t always choose to have Lattimore travel. Sometimes they prefer to play sides and double-team a player with a LB or Safety. 

The way Lattimore is playing I think putting Lattimore on Jefferson and letting them battle it out would be wise. The last time the two faced off the Saints CB came out on top:

  • Eight targets, 4 receptions for 55 yards and 2 PBUs.

Jefferson started the season hot in week one Vs Green Bay (who many called the best secondary in the league) he went off. Catching nine of his ten targets for 184 yards and 2 TDs. Since then he’s been kept in check.

The Eagles chose for the most part to match him with Darius Slay. That went incredibly well. Whilst in coverage against Slay, Jefferson on six targets only managed one reception for seven yards. Slay also intercepted 2 of the passes. 

This is in the plan I think the Saints should copy. Lattimore has been elite and traditionally plays better against a team’s number one WR, as Lattimore knows he has to be at his best. Against lesser competition, he has been known to get complacent and play down their level.


So, stop fumbling, stop getting offensive penalties, and start identifying and attacking the blitz better. Stop the run and finally put Marshon Lattimore on Justin Jefferson. Sounds easy right?

Probably not but I feel these are all a must if the Saints are going to win on Sunday. Regardless of who starts at QB (looks like it will be Andy Dalton).

For more Saints articles New Orleans Saints – Full10Yards 

Please let me know your feedback on this article and the others throughout the season, I’m always looking to improve and add things that people want to read about!

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