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5 Key Storylines To Watch At Saints Training Camp

Whether you’ve kept yourself plugged in this offseason or you’re just now returning to the NFL media cycle this article has you covered with all the key storylines I’ll be watching (and you should be too) when the full Saints roster finally returns to the field on Wednesday 26th July.

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Is Michael Thomas Finally Healthy?

No, you have not transported back in time, sadly we are still talking about Michael Thomas’ health rather than his pure dominance on the field. At one point early this offseason I didn’t think I would be writing about Michael Thomas in Saints uniform again. With a hefty cap hit and still health in question it looked like Thomas’ time in New Orleans was over but, the arrival of Derek Carr (more on him shortly) and Thomas’ under-reported thirst to still play in the black and gold brought him back on a re-done incentive ladened 1-year contract. 

Meaning here we are again, with the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is he healthy and back to his dominant best? Well, all signs are positive on that front Thomas unexpectedly was on the field during OTAs giving all Saints fans hope that he is finally back and can put together a full complement of offseason practices for the first time since before the 2020 season. 

Now let’s be measured with our expectations, does he need to be full go on day one? Ideally yes that would be great but we’ve seen what happens when Thomas has been rushed back on the field too soon before, he was lost for the whole 2021 season, so there’s no harm in the Saints bringing Thomas along slowly and if they do there shouldn’t be a huge amount of concern. However, if there isn’t positive progress being made throughout the first week it will feel a little too familiar for Saints fans.

Of course, him being on the field is huge for the Saints with no other true X WR on the roster. His Rapport with Carr already seems strong, according to multiple Saints media outlets he was working off to the side with Carr for a good deal of OTAs but we are yet to see him run full-speed routes against CBs. Therefore the enticing prospect of a three-receiver set of Thomas, Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed is just that, a prospect, thats why this is the first storyline i will be watching in the first week of camp.

How does Derek Carr look?

The Saints did the right thing in my opinion making the first splash signing of the 2023 season by signing Carr to a 4 year deal, which I think was a really good deal for not only Carr but the Saints as well. He fits the Saints system perfectly as the Saints system shares a lot of DNA with Jon Gruden’s and Carr had some of the best years of his career during Gruden’s tenure as the Raiders HC.

Now we know the theory of the signing was good, now we need to see the results on the field. The early reports were great in OTAs, Carr was showing good command of the offense already making checks at the line of scrimmage to get the offense into more advantageous plays, which is something I’m sure will continue with more time to gel with the playbook, OC Pete Carmichael Jr AKA Sneaky Pete and the weaponry around him. 

It goes without saying how important Carr is to the success of the Saints season so it’s crucial that he gets off to a good start in training camp.

Is The D-Line Back?

Since 2017 we have become used to seeing the Saints dominate upfront, getting pressure regularly only sending four rushers and stifling run defense. Unfortunately, this changed in 2022. With no meaningful push from the d-line outside of Cam Jordan, the Saints relied mainly on their creative use of LBs Kaden Elliss and Demario Davis and other blitzers to get pressure and unusually struggled against the run. The former is no longer on the team and is playing for some team with a disgusting bird logo and the latter is the same as Cam is 34 years old. Meaning the Saints need to see significant improvements from the rest of the line.

The Saints clearly saw the drop in play too and made a concerted effort this offseason to bring in new faces. The Saints added DTs Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepherd in free agency after losing both David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle to division rivals. Saunders has shown promise as a pass rusher but should fit more as the dominant run stuffer that the Saints have missed since Malcom Brown left a couple of seasons ago. Shepherd is more of an unknown and has looked really good for stretches, especially as a pass rusher but has only been a part-time player for most of his career so far.

These moves were followed up with the additions of DT Bryan Bresee and DE Isiah Foskey with their first two picks in this year’s draft. Add those to DE Carl Granderson who really came on strong to end the 2022 season and is pencilled in as the current starter opposite Jordan. Former 1st round pick Payton Turner who is nose-diving towards bust status but has shown a couple of flashes to keep you hoping. That gives puts this position group high on the list of things to keep an eye on during camp as this unit could easily end up being the Achilles heel that derails the Saints high hopes for the 2023 season.

The Health Of The O-Line

Speaking of Achilles heels, sadly the o-line also falls into this category too. However, unlike the D-line the question mark isn’t talent but health. Starting RG Cesar Ruiz has been present but has not yet participated in any of the Saints offseason programme neither has starting LT Trevor Penning after both suffered late season-ending foot injuries. 

Both are vital to the Saints success up front this season, Ruiz showed great promise last season and was really starting to live up to his first-round pick status. As for Penning he showed signs of dominance as a run blocker last season but work was still required as a pass blocker and without the time already missed this offseason that area of his game is unlikely to have improved so getting on the field and staying there throughout camp and the season is a must. Penning starting at LT would give the Saints such an upgrade in athleticism over last year’s starter James Hurst, which would immensely help the weirdly nonexistent screen game and outside runs.

All of this is without mentioning that Alll-Pro RT Ryan Ramczyk is playing with a degenerative knee condition and Andrus Peat is generally good for missed time. So this unit getting on the field together early and most importantly often to gel with new starting QB Derek Carr is without question something to monitor.

 Will The Saints Finally Just Use Taysom Hill Everywhere?

This maybe more of a personal key storyline but have the Saint finally worked out how to deploy Taysom Hill? And will they build on it to make him even harder to defend? Last season we finally saw them lean into the fact that nobody can stop Taysom running the ball ( at least not consistently). This in fact still wasn’t even done enough in my opinion, The Saints successfully sprinkled in the right amount of Hill passing to keep defenses honest, but now like with anything in the NFL what’s the next step? How does this evolve before finally the rest of the league catches up? That’s what I personally want to know.

Hill is, when used correctly my favourite Saints player to watch a ‘Quarterback’ with his size and speed barreling over linebackers and defenceless DBs will never get old for me. However, it’s time for Hill’s role to finally evolve. In my opinion, he should very rarely come off the field. His threat to run, pass and catch passes is a massive headache for defences to account for, so why make it easy for them by taking him off the field? I personally don’t know, thats a question for Pete Carmichael and the rest of the Saints offensive staff.

All of the offseason talk has been encouraging, Hill and the Saints staff have spoken about wanting his role to evolve especially as a pass catcher which is great but we’ve heard this before, with similar reports about Hill’s move to TE all of last offseason. Now is the time, to make all of the football nerds head’s explode every Sunday on Twitter. Hill should be everywhere, outside, in the slot, at QB and in the backfield. With the latter in my opinion being his most effective alignment, where he would be a threat to run, pass, catch passes and even block (just to add another layer of complexity for opposing defenses to work through). 

So please Saints you have one of, if not the most versatile offensive weapons in the league, if only for me bring out every trick you can think of and give this Taysom Hill fan a season to remember. For that to be possible the Saints have to got to start the work when camp opens on Wednesday, so at the very least I will be keeping a keen and close eye on any report I see on Taysom Hill’s usage and you should too!

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Key Matchups For The New Orleans Saints Vs. The Goliath 49ers

A matchup that has previously brought some incredibly close offensive shootouts. Now looks like a real David vs. Goliath situation for the Saints to overcome. For them to do so, they need to find a way not to get dominated in these three matchups.

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Saints Tackles Vs Nick Bosa

The Saints should be back to full strength on the o-line minus starting center Erik McCoy who is still on IR. After starting a completely makeshift left side of the line against the Rams.  With the makeshift line, the Saints proved they could scheme a great game plan to stop one of the league’s best, Aaron Donald.

They need to do the same this week against a ferocious 49ers pass rush, led again but one of the best in the league Nick Bosa. Bosa has rushed the passer 279 times which ranks as only the 46th most in the league, but he is still ranked tied for third in the league with 50 QB pressures per PFF. for perspective, his 50 QB pressures is more than the Saints leading pass rushers combined, Cam Jordan (24) and Marcus Davenport (23).

Those stats should illustrate Bosa’s sheer dominance against the pass, and he can be just a disruptive against the run, which does not bode well for the Saints offense. The game plan and execution of the offense is going to need to be perfect this week for the Saints to have the success required to win this game.

Saints Defense Vs YAC

Anyone who’s been watching the Saints defense this year knows that one of the biggest problems with this unit is missed tackles. The Saints defense, per PFF, has missed a massive 99 tackles so far this season. For comparison, the Saints defense a year ago missed 133 tackles. Extrapolate the 99 missed tackles so far over 17 games would equal  153 missed tackles on the year. 

I highlight these missed tackles so significantly because if they can’t tackle well in this game, the 49ers’ offense will punish that more than other teams might. San Fran’s strength in the passing game is yards after the catch (YAC). See the YAC stats for the 49ers top five reception leaders.

  • Brandon Aiyuk; 46 receptions, averaging 5.3 YAC per reception. 
  • Deebo Samuel; 40 receptions, averaging 8.9 YAC per reception (wow).
  • George Kittle; 33 receptions, averaging 6.8 YAC per reception.
  • Christian McCaffrey; 21 receptions, averaging 8.7 YAC per reception.
  • Jauan Jennings; 18 receptions, averaging 6.3 YAC per reception.

It’s not unusual for stud pass-catching backs to have high YAC numbers, but for players like Deebo and Kittle to be averaging what they are is flat-out scary for this Saints defense.  For context of how good these numbers are. Here are the Saints three leaders in receptions outside of RBs. (Chris Olave,  Juwan Johnson, and Jarvis Landry) YAC per reception. 

  • Chris Olave; 51 receptions, averaging 2.7 YAC per reception.
  • Juwan Johnson; 31 receptions, averaging 3.6 YAC per reception.
  • Jarvis Landry; 21 receptions, averaging 2.3 YAC per reception.

The 49ers offense is built around this ability and is part of the reason they acquire certain players to fit this kind of passing offense. Deebo Samuel alone nearly gets an extra first down’s worth of yardage per catch.

The Saints improved slightly last week but still missed far too many tackles, and if that continues this week, then it’s likely to be a long day for the Saints.

Taysom Hill Vs The 49ers Stingy Defense 

The 49ers have the best defense in the league; if they aren’t first, it’s pretty close. They have allowed the fewest rushing yards and allowed the lowest yards per carry in the league. They rank seventh in the league in passing yards allowed.

I already detailed Nick Bosa’s dominance earlier. Unfortunately for the Saints he’s not alone. The 49ers boast one of the best pass rushes in the league, have two excellent linebackers ( Warner and Greenlaw), and a stellar secondary led by standout CB Charvarius Ward who’s played at a pro-bowl level, so far this year and second-year breakout safety Talanoa Hufanga.

The 49ers have all the tools to make it very difficult for the Saints to use the ‘Taysom Hill’ package effectively. For the Saints to have a chance to win this game, that package needs to be effective, and Taysom needs to be on the field making plays.

I discussed the link between Hill’s success and the Saints in my recap of the Saints win Vs. the Rams.

So I won’t rehash that here, but in essence, the Saints are 3-1 in games where Hill has had 10+ snaps at QB and 3-0 when he’s had nine or more rushing attempts in the game. So Hill’s success/usage this season is directly linked to how the Saints perform.

Therefore, the Saints have to make sure not to abandon plays with Taysom if they fall behind like we’ve seen plenty of times this season, and make sure to have a varied and creative gameplan in place to keep the defense from loading the box as soon as Taysom is in at QB because that will not result in success for the Saints against a defense as talented as the 49ers.

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Analysing Three Key New Orleans Saints Matchups Vs. The Equally Depleted LA Rams 

At one time, this would have been a marque matchup in the NFL. The winner of this game would likely end up with the number one seed in the NFC and be one of the favorites for the Superbowl.

This season, how the mighty have fallen, both teams ravished with injuries, staring down the barrel of an aging roster and limited resources to inject fresh, younger talent into teams that really need it.

Of course, both teams want to win this game, but how much does it matter in the bigger picture? With the Saints at 3-7 and the Rams at 3-6, Compare to the stakes of years gone by, this game has an unusual feel of unimportance.  

With prideful stars on each team, I doubt they feel like these teams’ seasons are lost, so let’s look at three key matchups for the Saints on Sunday.

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Saints Backup Offensive Line Vs Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald is one of the biggest nightmares for offensive coaches to plan, even if the team is at full strength on the offensive line. If the Saints injury report continues in the same vein, then they will be far from full strength.

As it stands, they will be down three of their five day-one starters. Starting LT James Hurst is currently still in concussion protocol and is not practicing. When a player is not practicing this late into the week whilst in the concussion protocol, it is usually a near certainty that they will not be playing.

Starting LG Andrus Peat is also not practicing due to a Triceps injury that kept him out of last week’s game, so it looks very unlikely that he will be playing this week. Add to that starting center Erik McCoy is on injured reserve and is for at least the next three games after missing the games Vs. Pittsburgh last week. That leaves the Saints very shorthanded at a position group that was one of their lone strengths earlier in the season. 

The expected replacements Landon Young (LT), Josh Andrews (C), and Calvin Throckmorton (LG) did not fill anyone with much confidence in last week’s game against the Steelers. The Steelers have plenty of talent on the d-line, including T.J. Watt, who’s as dominant of a player as Donald, but Watt generally didn’t line up against the replacement players too often. He spent much of his time facing off with incumbent starting RT Ryan Ramczyk.

Donald can and will regularly line up against the replacement players at center and LG., which presents a massive set of issues for the line and the Saints coaches to try and prepare for. It’s vital that they contain Donald as much as humanly possible, as in recent weeks when the blocking has broken down in both the passing and running game, the offense has ground to a complete halt. 

Saints Running Game Vs Rams Defense

As we’ve already highlighted, the Saints will again be down many key starters on the offensive line this week. Against the Steelers, this meant they struggled to create any meaningful offense. That struggle was massively due to the dis-functions on the offensive line, meaning the offense could not establish any running game.

Without a run game, this offense led by QB Andy Dalton is not potent enough to be successful. They need to be able to pick up solid yardage on early down carries to make third-down conversions easier. This team struggles hugely when it ends up in third and long, which frequently happens when they can’t run the ball.

Also, the offenses main weapons, outside of rookie sensation Chris Olave are Alvin Kamara, and Taysom Hill, both of these players are predominantly deployed in the rushing attack. Though they both should be a massive part of the passing game, the Saints have struggled in recent weeks to keep them involved in this area.

 The Saints depleted rushing attack face another stiff test this week with a strong Rams run defense. They rank 5th in the league (tied with the Jets) with a stingy 4 YPC allowed to opposing offenses. Led by hall of fame LB Bobby Wagner and the previously mentioned Aaron Donald.

A stand-out stat from looking at the Rams run defense, per PFF, they have only missed 21 tackles in run defense this year, which is incredibly low. The 49ers, who are allowing a league-low 3.4 YPC, have missed 25. The Saints, who were once the league’s best-run defense, have missed a massive 49 tackles whilst defending the run this season. This stat shows one of the Saints biggest issues that’s caused a huge drop in their production against the run this year.

if we look at the top two players from each team from LB and the D-line regarding tackles in the run game, some more Saints issues show up.


Cam Jordan- 20 tackles, six missed tackles, 16.7% missed tackle rate.

Pete Werner- 32 tackles, four missed tackles, 8.7% missed tackle rate.


Aaron Donald- 27 tackles, one missed tackle,2.8% missed tackles rate.

Bobby Wagner- 24 tackles, zero missed tackles.

This shows where the Saints are failing against the run and where the Rams are massively succeeding. The Saints have to find a way to overcome their disadvantages and establish the run this weekend. Otherwise, it will be another very long day for the offense.

Saints Front Four Vs Matthew Stafford 

The Saints pass rush has shown signs of life in recent weeks. It does look like they will be without Marcus Davenport again this week and could be without ironman DE Cameron Jordan who’s not been practicing due to a nasty eye injury. However, Payton Turner and David Onyemata have played much better in recent weeks giving the d-line a bit more depth.

The front four’s play is crucial this week. As it appears, blitzing Rams QB, Matt Stafford actually does the defense more harm than good. Below are Matt Stafford’s passing stats (provided by PFF) when under pressure and not when he’s blitzed and when he’s not.

What you can clearly see is Stafford’s play so far this year has been its best when he’s been blitzed, and Stafford has struggled a lot more when under pressure (not from the blitz) or when he’s been kept clean.

Meaning the Saints need to win up front without blitzing. This should not be a problem considering the Rams are actually more injured on their offensive line than the Saints. The Rams have six offensive linemen on IR, with at least three of those being starters at some point this year and others who would have been starters with the current injuries.

Even if the Saints are down some key starters, they SHOULD still have enough up-front to make Matthew Stafford struggle, especially when we won’t have the quick throw to Cooper Kupp available with Kupp also out this game.

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Analyzing Three Key New Orleans Saints Matchups Vs. The Steelers

The Saints are again wounded, this team just can’t seem to shake the injury bug, and unfortunately, it always seems to be key players that are missing time. But, at this stage, it doesn’t matter; one game back from the lead in the NFC South, the Saints need to start stacking victories.

These three matchups are the keys to securing a crucial victory.

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Saints Rushing Attack Vs The Steelers Front Seven 

Last week against the Ravens, the Saints offense crumbled when I couldn’t run the ball. It’s as simple as that. This offense goes as far as the running game will take them.

Against the Ravens it felt like as soon as it didn’t work on the first drives, Pete Carmichael caved and conceded that it wasn’t going to work, so we aren’t going to try.

That can’t happen this week, the Steelers on paper are relatively similar to the Ravens against the run. They have the personnel to execute the blueprint the Ravens showed last week to shut down the Saints rushing attack. Fast LBs, a big, experienced, and disciplined defensive front.

The Steelers enter Week Ten ranked seventh in the NFL in YPC given up (4.2 YPC) and will be getting reigning defensive player of the year, DE T.J. Watt, back after he tore his peck earlier in the season. 

The Saints will also be without two of their starting offensive line, which adds to the level of difficulty this week, but they have to find a way to be the bully we’ve seen in previous weeks.

That does not mean running Alvin Kamara up the gut 20 times. That means actually using Taysom Hill, running QB Power (arguably the league’s most effective play), and not giving up if it doesn’t work the first time.

We saw what the Andy Dalton-led offense looked like last week without a running game. We can’t see it again this week in a game the Saints can’t afford to lose.

Saints Defense Vs Fundamentals 

The Saints actually had a good plan on Monday night vs. Lamar Jackson, but the fundamentals of defense let them down, Tackling and coverage. 

The defense had 13 missed tackles on against the Ravens, which is a problem that has plagued the team all season. Many of those looked to be when the defense tried to corral Jackson.

The Saints blitz Lamar more than they have any other QB this season. I think the plan worked the problem was the execution. There were several times when Lamar should have been sacked or stopped for minimal gain, but the defense missed him. One play that springs to mind as an example Marcus Davenport came screaming off the edge and had Jackson for a sack but aimed high. Jackson slipped the sack and rushed for a first down (for reference, 4:20 in the 2nd quarter).

There were other examples of this all game.

The final issue was blown coverages. It looked like the Saints defense blew several against the Ravens, where players either didn’t know their assignment or couldn’t get lined up in time to execute it,

This should not be happening this far into a season, especially with the amount of experience the Saints have in the secondary. These coverage errors led to the Ravens first touchdown and plenty of first-down passes, some on big third downs.

The Saints will be without Marshon Lattimore again this week and could be without Marcus Maye and P.J. Williams as well this weekend. Meaning the depth of this secondary will again be tested. 

The Steelers offense is not a good one on paper, so giving them free big plays through missed tackles and blown coverages is a recipe for a long, frustrating game for the Saints.

Saints Defense And Turnovers.

If the Saints do play disciplined coverage, that should lead to turnovers.

The Saints still only have two interceptions on the season; only the Giants have fewer. That is putrid production from a secondary which such talent, The team as a whole only has seven takeaways, with one of those coming on special teams. Seven takeaways ranks second to last in the league, tied with the Dolphins and Commanders. Only the Raiders have less (5).

This is one of the main reasons for the team’s slump this year. They are last in the league in turnover differential at -10. 

This week the defense squares off with rookie QB Kenny Pickett, a player the Saints were rumored to have really liked in the draft this past season.

If you look at his numbers so far this season, PFF has charted how he does against pressure, no pressure, blitzed, and not blitzed.

It makes for interesting reading. Usually, QBs, especially rookies, perform better with a clean un-pressured pocket. It’s clear that’s not the case with Pickett.

So far, Pickett has thrown seven of his eight interceptions when he’s had a clean pocket. That’s a sign when a team makes Pickett read the defense and make the right decisions, he isn’t, and it forces the ball into windows that aren’t there.

It looks like sending four rushers, even if they aren’t being that effective ( and I think they would be), and making Pickett decide where to go with the ball with plenty of players in coverage could be a recipe for success this Sunday.

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Analysing Three Key Matchups For Saints Vs Ravens

There is newfound hope around this New Orleans Saints season, for that to continue they need a strong performance on Monday night when the 5-3 Baltimore Ravens come to town. There are three key matchups the Saints need to be on the right side of on Monday night for that hope to continue.

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Alvin Kamara Vs Roquan Smith And Patrick Queen

The Saints offense runs best when their best gets the ball early and often. Since Andy Dalton has taken over at QB for the Saints that’s happened, he’s fed Alvin Kamara as much as possible. With Dalton as the starter,  Kamara has played four games and is averaging 17.75 rush attempts per game and 8.5 targets per game. Pretty much 25 touches per game.  He’s amassed 323 rushing yards and 268 receiving, an average of 80.75 yards rushing and 67 receiving yards per game, equally 147.75 scrimmage yards per game.

What that should illustrate is how effective Alvin Kamara has been this season with Dalton starting. 

The Ravens on paper have two very good Alvin Kamara erasers (if there is such a thing). Right in time, the Ravens traded for Roquan Smith from the Chicago Bears, Smith is one of the better coverage LBs in the league and one of very few LBs in the league with the athletic profile to match up with Kamara. (4.51 40 time) 

Since entering the league Smith has 8 interceptions and 11 PBUs, whilst only allowing 3 touchdowns in his coverage, equalling an 83.6 passer rating when targeted, that number is even more impressive this season sitting at a 69.0 passer rating allowed when targeted.

His expected starting partner Patrick Queen is no slouch either, running a 4.5 40 time, however, a fast 40 does not mean you are an elite coverage player at LB. he’s been a bit more streaky in converge so far in his NFL career. In his NFL career so far he has allowed 6 touchdowns whilst in converge and has 2 interceptions and 3 PBUs, equalling a 108.5 passer rating when targeted. He’s faired slightly better so far this season by only allowing a 92.7 passer rating when targeted.

Despite this improvement, he’s been targeted a lot in the passing game, so far this season he’s been targeted 46 times, surrendering 38 receptions for 387 yards, a massive 279 yards of those have come after the catch. Something we’ve seen all of Kamara’s career is he is smooth and effective as anyone after the catch.

This is a really interesting matchup for Kamara this week, both Lbs have the athletic profile to keep up with AK and both are used in coverage a lot, Kamara against an LB is a matchup the Saints will always target but they might have to tread carefully this week, especially against Smith.

Saints Run Defense Vs Lamar Jackson

Anyone who’s watched the Saints indecent year knows that this defense, as good as it’s been against the run, has struggled massively against mobile QBs. Well, that will be tested again this week against the best running QB in the league, Lamar Jackson.

This season Jackson 553 rushing yards at an average of 7.4 yards per rushing attempt. His 553 rushing yards are 140 yards more than the Saints leading rusher ( Alvin Kamara). 

In their two matchups this season against rushing mobile QBs, the Saints defense allowed Marcus Mariota to rush for 72 yards on 12 attempts (6 YPC) and Kyler Murray rushed for 30 yards on 7 attempts (4.2 YPC).

This might not sound too bad, however, to combat the threat of these QBs rushing, the Saints have to deploy a much more conservative pass rush plan, that focuses more on keeping the QB in the pocket and less on sacking the QB. In both those games combined they pressured the QB 13 times, in the Raiders game alone the Saints had 22 pressures. 

This defense goes as the pass rush does, if the front 7 are getting after the QB the Saints defense effectively they are far better than if they are not, that’s not groundbreaking information but it doesn’t make it any less true.

The final, unfortunate consequence of the additional attention the defense is paying these QBs is that the RBs on those teams seem to have more success than they might have usually. Take the two games mentioned earlier Cordarrelle Patterson rushed for 120 yards at 5.4 YPC and Eno Benjamin rushed for 92 yards at 7.6 YPC. 

There is one way the Saints can turn the tide in their favour against Lamar’s rushing ability, forcing fumbles. Jackson has already fumbled 4 times this season on running plays, in his 4 seasons prior to this year he averages 10.75 fumbles per year on rushing plays. 

This has to be an area the Saints attack with Jackson on Monday, but with great care, one failed attempt at striping the ball could allow Jackson to break free for a massive gain.

Saints Slot Defender/s Vs Mark Andrews 

The Ravens are fairly thin on receiving threats, however, they do have the best receiving threat at TE in the league outside of Travis Kelce, in Mark Andrews.

To add to Lamar’s elite running ability he is also one if not the best passer in the intermediate area of the field (10-19 yards). So far this year Jackson has completed 66.7% of his passes when throwing between this yardage, for 502 yards,4 touchdowns and zero interceptions. These throws have averaged 11.4 yards per attempt.

If we look just specifically at the intermediate middle part of the field Jackson is completing 65.5% of his throws for 292 yards, 2 touchdowns and zero interceptions ( 10.1 yards per attempt). The reason I highlight this particular area of the field is this is where Mark Andrews does much of his damage, he’s one of the best players at attacking the seams in the NFL. 

Andrews has run 66.4% of his snaps from the slo0 so far this season, so it’s going to be interesting to see who the Saints use to cover the slot this week, it sounds like Marshon Lattimore will be out again this week. Leaving Paulson Adebo and Alontae Taylor to start at outside corner.

Andrews is a bit banged up he was listed yesterday as a DNP at Thursday’s practice, Ravens HC John Harbaugh has said that Andrew’s injuries are not serious, but anytime someone is listed as DNP, with multiple injuries ( shoulder and ankle in Andrews case) it is something worth monitoring. 

Leaving Chris Harris Jr, Justin Evans and P.J. Williams ( who’s expected to activated off IR this week) as the most logical options. Harris and Evans have both struggled so far this year, although Harris had a much better game last week, he is still one of the oldest starting DBs in the league.

P.J. Williams has had success in the slot previously but has since transitioned to playing more safety than CB. Personally, I’d still be tempted to give with Williams there this week, due to his more physical style of play and being the bigger of the three players.

Size does matter in this matchup, Andrews is a monster standing 6” 5  and weighing 247lbs per PFF. which is why you’d usually find a safety matched up on someone of this size. The Saints biggest coverage player would be safety Marcus Maye, but that would still be a size disadvantage and Andrews would likely relish the matchup from a coverage standpoint. This plan would mean Tyrann Mathieu would have to play more snaps as the deep safety has proven to not be the best way to deploy him so far this season.

Therefore as a hybrid safety/CB for me, P.J. Williams looks to be the best option 1 on 1, however, with the Ravens lack of weapons on the outside I’d expect Andrews to be double-teamed plenty this game.

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Week Six- New Orleans Saints Vs Cincinnati Bengals Preview 

The Saints look to be walking into the dome badly wounded but, not dead. Let’s take a look at how this version of the Saints, down many starters, matchup to last season’s Superbowl runners-up the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Saints Offense Vs Bengals Defense

It’s expected that the Saints will give Andy Dalton at least one more start this week, Jameis Winston has been limited in practice this week and has looked healthier. It makes sense with how efficient the offense has been under Dalton to give Winston another game or two to make sure he’s as close to full health as possible before inserting him back into the line-up.

Dalton will need to continue his efficient play under center this week as he will almost definitely be without Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry again, there is hope that Chris Olave will be available for the game after returning to practice on a limited basis following his concussion on Sunday Vs Seattle.

Adam Schefter who’s usually a reliable source tweeted last week that the Saints expected Thomas back this week and the fact he is still not practising is concerning, after the debacle of MT’s ankle injury this has shades of how that was reported, maybe it’s just the Saints preserving him going into a short week against Arizona next week on Thursday night, that’s what I’m hoping.

If the Saints have Olave available then that’s good enough for the passing offense to function with a healthy dose of Alvin Kamara mixed too. 

Speaking of Kamara this has to be another strong rushing game, the offense has to play complimentary football, shorten the game and keep a defense without Marshon Lattimore against Ja’Marr Chase fresh.

Kamara had his best game of the season last week and was running was more noticeable burst than he’s had recently, he did have another costly fumble, to continue the theme of the offense needing to play complimentary football that can’t happen this week, nor going forward. The Saints offense needs to be able to rely on its best player not to make killer mistakes so they can feed him because when you do that special things happen.

The Bengals defense has allowed 4.2 yards per carry so far this season, which ranks 10th best in the league. They are without arguably their best-run defender this week with DJ Reader on IR. They managed to bottle up Lamar Jackson last week for only 4.8 YPC last week, which is about as good as you can hope for. That was also a perfect matchup for them to help in the preparation for the Saints own mobile QB weapon.

Enter Taysom Hill, along with Kamara he needs plenty of touches early and often if the Saints are going to win this game. More on Taysom vs the Bengals here- Analysing Three Key Saints Matchups To Watch in Week Six – Full10Yards.

The Bengals defense enters the dome as one of the better units in the league and so far looks like the best defense in this game. Trey Hendrickson returns to New Orleans and leads a stout d-line, Hendrickson has been a force on the edge since his last season for the Saints, which has only continued for the Bengals.  The Saints o-line will have a handful this weekend with him and Sam Hubbard on the edge and B.J Hill on the inside.

The secondary for Cincinnatti is led by another former Saint Vonn Bell, the Saints chose to sign veteran Malcolm Jenkins over Bell in free agency a few years ago, something he hasn’t forgotten, he was quoted this week by Cincinnati media “ they drafted me, yeah, and I appreciate the opportunity. But they moved on from me. You never forget that.” 

Chidobe Awuzie leads the CBs, he’s only allowing 42.4% of the passes thrown his way to be completed with 4 PBUs and a 62.4 passer rating when targeted. He will give the Saints WRs all they can handle this weekend. Opposite him is Saints reject Eli Apple starting opposite, who has played well so far this year but expect New Orleans to target him frequently rather than Awuzie.

Saints Defense Vs Bengals Offense

The Saints defense is expected to be without their best cover CB on Sunday Marshon Lattimore is expected to be out after bruising his kidney against Seattle last week. Every week is a bad week to be without your best CB, this week hurts especially with Ja’Marr Chase making his return to the Superdome for the first time since his days at LSU.

Paulson Adebo will need to step up after a dier showing against Seattle last week. Hopes were high for  Adebo entering his second season, he was widely considered to be the training camp MVP and most improved player on the defense before suffering an ankle injury that sidelined up for the first 2 games of the regular season. 

It’s expected that Bradley Roby will start opposite him this week, Roby had been manning the slot since Adebo’s return. posing the question who starts in the slot? do the Saints return to Justin Evans? who started in the slot at the start of the year. Or do they go with Chris Harris Jr. who was an elite slot CB for most of his career but he is in the twilight of his career at this stage, so who knows how effective he will be at this stage?

Whoever mans the slot will have their hands full with one of the better slot WRs in the league Tyler Boyd. Outside of Boyd and Chase, the Bengals have their own question mark surrounding their number two WR Tee Higgins, an elite big play machine who will be questionable this week after missing practice at the start of the week with a knee injury, before some limited participation today.

The Saints should have safety Marcus Maye back this week which should help this Saints defense defend big plays. More on the secondary’s issues with big plays here- .

Having Maye back should also allow HC/defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to use Tyrann Mathieu in the way he envisioned when Mathieu was signed, a more free-flowing playmaker at safety who can line up anywhere, without too many responsibilities. That’s the version of the Honey Badger the Saints need on Sunday.

The Saints also shouldn’t have to stack the box to defend the run this week. Despite having one of the better RBs in the league, the Bengals running game has been stagnant. Joe Mixon is averaging 3.1 yards per carry so far this season. Without having to stack the box the Saints can live in NICKEL (2LBs, 5DBs), which should also help against the pass.

Cam Jordan and the rest of the Saints d-line should have an advantageous matchup this week against a porous Bengals o-line. If the Saints d-line, especially Marcus Davenport doesn’t dominate this week and they need to help limit the big plays against this Bengals passing attack, then I don’t know when they will. More on Davenport and the Bengals o-line here- .

State Of The Rosters

No surprises for the Saints, Olave being upgraded to full is a huge development, but his status for the game is still up in the air. Fingers crossed he plays, with Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry out the Saints need their standout rookie.

On the Bengals side Tee Higgins and Jonah Williams missed practice all week but practised on a limited basis on Friday, I’m sure they will play, there’s been no reporting on that its just big players, especially WRs always seem to find a way to play when the Saints are the opponent. If Higgins doesn’t play that would be a huge help to the Saints secondary.

Score Prediction 

I’ve predicted the Saints to win every game this season so far, but with the injuries, I don’t think I can this game. There’s a path for the Saints to win if the running game dominates and the defense limits big plays they can win. Of course, I hope they do win, but I think the injuries are just too much to overcome this week.

28-20 Bengals win.

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Week Five- Saints Vs Seahawks Preview 

If a game in week five is a must-win it’s usually because things are not going well. That’s definitely the case for the 2022-2023 New Orleans Saints. This is a must-win game Vs the Seattle Seahawks. Let’s see how the Saints stack up.

The Saints chose not to have their bye week as usual after a London game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a post-London hangover with all the travel and time changes. The Sants have got to prove the organisation was right to make that choice this week and not let that be the reason for another week of sloppy play, ending in a loss.

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Saints Offense Vs Seahawks Defense

This has to be a get-right game for the again Andy Dalton-led Saints offense. Last week was a good start for Dalton and the offense, in their attempt to right the offensive ship. However, they were still plagued by a very slow start on offense, turnovers, fumbles especially and penalties.

The first 6 drives of the game for the Saints; Three of those drives were three-play, three-and-out drives. One was a 60-yard touchdown after the Tyrann Mathieu interception, the last play before the half was a one-play drive where Dalton lost a fumble.

The Saints went three and out again to start the second half before going. Touchdown, touchdown, field goal and missed field goal to end the game. The second half showed promise, but they can’t keep getting off to such slow starts, this team has barely played with a lead all season. This team is not built to win from behind.

This week on paper looks to be a good matchup for the New Orleans offense.

In the picture above are Seattle’s top seven players in terms of coverage snaps (Picture from PFF). Four of those seven players have allowed a 130+ passer rating when targeted (NFL column). Specifically, I want to highlight Jordyn Brooks (PR 149.0) and Coby Bryant (136.9). 

Brooks struggled against Alvin Kamara last season, (four receptions for 49 yards and 2 first downs) given up against Kamara in coverage last season (per PFF) this should be a matchup the Saints target again, with Kamara set to return this week.

Bryant has been manning the slot since regular starter Justin Coleman got injured in Week One and he’s struggled. Whilst in coverage he’s allowing 71.4% of the passes thrown his way to be completed and those receptions on average go for 17.3 yards per catch. He also hasn’t forced any incompletions whilst in coverage so far this year.

This should be an advantageous matchup for Jarvis Landry; the Saints’ main slot receiver. This seems like a good game to put Olave and/or Harty in the slot for some slot plays to try and take advantage. 

Seattle could have Coleman back, he’s been out with a calf injury but there’s no guarantee that he immediately be pushed back into the starting line-up, we saw this with starting CB Paulson Adebo in his first game back from his ankle injury.

Rookie CB, Tariq Woolen has impressed in the Seattle secondary as has Saints rookie WR Chris Olave. This is a matchup I’m fascinated to watch on Sunday. More on that here (Analysing Three Key Matchups For The Saints In Week Five Vs Seattle – Full10Yards)

Per Pro-Football-Reference (PFR) Seattle’s defense on average is giving up 8.2 yards per pass play. This ranks dead last in the league in this metric.

 2022 Seattle Seahawks Rosters, Stats, Schedule, Team Draftees, Injury Reports |

Also, per PFR Seattle’s defense is giving up 5.1 yards-per-carry which ranks as the fourth worst in the NFL. This is another sign of hope for the Saints’ offense. It’s clear that New Orleans wants to establish the run and the offense has looked its best when they’ve been able to run the ball, especially on early downs. With Kamara back, Ingram not on the injury report and Taysom seeming to be back to full health. This should be a good matchup for them to dominate on the ground.

The Saints’ o-line should be able to hold up well against the Seattle pass rush. They had a very solid game last week against a stronger rush. Although Minnesota only blitzed Dalton six times last week, which is surprising considering the Saints’ issues against the blitz, expect that to be tested early this week.

Saints Defense Vs Seahawks Offense 

At the start of the season, I would have said this was one of the easiest matchups for the Saints’ defense. After four weeks of the NFL season that isn’t the case.

Geno Smith has been great, he’s played exactly how the Saints would have wanted their QBs to play so far. 

He’s been efficient completing a league-best 77.3% of his passes. With only two turnovers (two interceptions) he’s playing a perfect point guard role at QB distributing the ball to his playmakers with minimal fuss.

Expect star WR D.K Metcalf to be matched up with Saints star CB Marshon Lattimore for most of the day, this is always a blockbuster matchup and one the Saints need to win, more on that here (Analysing Three Key Matchups For The Saints In Week Five Vs Seattle – Full10Yards).

Despite Metcalf’s star power, he’s not the Seahawks leading WR so far this season. That title goes to Tyler Lockett, who has more catches and yards so far this season. He plays 44.9% of his snaps in the slot. This means Bradly Roby will be under a microscope in this matchup, the Saints could even shade some help his way.

Seattle also possesses one of the league’s most potent ground games. Rashaad Penny, who once looked like a first-round bust. Now looks like one of the most explosive runners in the league.

Per PFF, he averages 4.57 rushing yards after contact per rush, which leads all RBs in the NFL. He’s also averaging six yards-per-carry (YPC) so far this season after an incredibly impressive, 17 carry 157-yard performance last week @ Detroit.

The Saints’ defense needs to show up against the run like it did last week when it bottled up another elite RB (Dalvin Cook) for 3.6 YPC on 20 attempts. 

The final piece to the puzzle for the New Orleans defense? Putting Geno under pressure. When under pressure Smith’s PFF passing grade is 62.0, compared to 87.3 when not under pressure. They need big games from Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport Vs two rookie tackles. More on that matchup here- Analysing Three Key Matchups For The Saints In Week Five Vs Seattle – Full10Yards

State Of The Rosters


The Saints will be without QB1 and WR1 again this week as Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas are both OUT for this weekend.

On the plus side, the Saints will have star RB Alvin Kamara, starting safety Marcus Maye and starting LG back for this game.


Fairly clean bill of health for Seattle. There was a scare earlier in the week when star RB Rashaad Penny didn’t practice, he practised fully since then.

The Main miss for Seattle is last week’s starting EDGE Darrell Johnson is OUT after being put on injured reserve with an ankle injury. This will give Seattle a chance to give second-round rookie Boye Mafe an extended look in Taylor’s absence.

For more information on the injuries click here-

Score Prediction 

If the Saints offense doesn’t get back firmly on the tracks this week then honestly, I don’t expect them to and this has to be the week for an Alvin Kamara game.

Unless the pass rush goes ballistic (which it could) then I think Seattle will still score points. 

The Saints win 31-24 with a late Seattle touchdown bringing the score closer.

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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.

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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).

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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!

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Saints @ Panthers Week Three Preview; Key Matchups And More

Neither team had the result they wanted in week two. The Saints fell to Tom Brady’s refs…… I mean Bucs and Carolina lost to an average New York Giants squad (Despite what their record says).

That leaves two teams with a lot to prove heading into to week three and a matchup that both teams need to win.

I’m going to highlight 3 key matchups. who’s playing and who’s not? and of course a score prediction for the game.

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After two games both teams could easily have different records. New Orleans sit at 1-1. If not for a miraculous fourth quarter comeback in week one they’d be 0-2.  If not for a fourth quarter meltdown in week two they very well could be 2-0. 1-1 feels right so far for a team that have struggled to string together more than one consistent quarter of football, where all three sides of the ball play well and complement each other.

The Panthers have lost two games by a total of five points. They nearly produced a Saints like fourth quarter comeback week one against the Browns if not for a late field goal. Then fell to the Giants after being tied for most of the game.

Both Teams need to find an identity, this not unusual early in the season but this is especially true of the Saints. Are they are run first team, that want to hit the play action bombs off of that kind of team? Are they the quick rhythm, short throws and get the ball in your playmaker’s hands kind of team? It doesn’t seem like they know, but they need work it out quickly.

The Saints lead this series three games to one since Matt Rhule has been the Panthers HC. Those games were all of course under the watch of former Saints HC Sean Payton. Can new HC Dennis Allen keep that good form going? Here’s some of the matchups the Saints need to be on the right side off.

Key Matchups

Panther LB Blitz Vs Saints Pass Protection

The first Panthers matchup last season was a shambles for the Saints. Carolina blitzed them over and over, the Saints couldn’t handle it.  So much so former NFL o-lineman and Twitter legend Brian Baldinger was mystified at how the Panthers ran the same blitz three plays in a row because the Saints couldn’t block it.

Brian Baldinger criticizes Saints’ offensive line miscues vs. Panthers (

Now, why am I bringing up a meaningless game from last season? Well, the Saints have struggled with the Blitz again this year. In both games so far, we’ve seen Winston sacked by blitzing LBs who were not picked up by the Saints o-line. Two examples here:

Atlanta Falcons week 1 SACK compilation | Highlights | Saints vs. Falcons – YouTube (54 seconds in)

Jayden on Twitter: “First sack of the day comes on a perfectly executed coffeehouse stunt by Lavonte David. Ram bites on the fake – sack” / Twitter

Panthers DC Phil Snow has shown he’s willing to attack your weaknesses and keep attacking them until you prove you can stop them. The Saints did improve in this area week two, but it was still a problem and id expect the Panthers to try and exploit it.

This can’t be a consistent problem for the Saints on Sunday; these plays kill drives and kill your QB. Jameis Winston has four fractures in his back and can’t keep taking shots from free rushers running full speed.

McCaffrey Vs Saints LBs

The Saints secondary should match up well against the Panthers WRs and TE’s. Christian McCaffrey is the x factor.

He’s had an unusually quiet start to the season in the passing game through two games he has only eight catches for 50 yards. Compare that to the first two games of last season his usage in this area is way down. At this stage last season, he had over three times the yards (154) and nearly twice the number of catches (15).

In those games last season, the Panthers were 2-0. This year with McCaffrey’s reduced role in the passing game they are 0-2.

You have to think this usage is something they want to rectify as it’s a proven winning formular.

The matchup they want for McCaffrey is against a LB. The Saints do have the LBs that could hold up in this matchup. Per PFF Pete Werner has a 82.4 coverage grade good for 7th in the league among LBs. Demario Davis ranks 13th with a 76.2 grade.

These Saints LB’s will need to continue this good form on Sunday for the Saints to come out on top.

Davenport Vs ‘ICKY’

Will this finally be the week that Davenport takes over a game? I feel like it has to be. He will primarily be lining up against rookie LT Ikem Ekwonu, who, to put it bluntly has not played well so far.

Ewonu is rated as PFF’s 64th LT out of 65 and has given up 3 sacks and 7 total pressures in the 2 games so far. This should be a matchup Davenport can win and win well.

Davenport and the rest of the Saints rush should have enough time to get to the QB this week. Baker Mayfield’s average time to throw per PFF is 2.89 seconds that’s 0.6 seconds slower than Tom Brady last week and ranks him as the 11th slowest thrower in the league.  9th slowest if you only include starters. It may not sound a lot but that is difference between a pressure and a sack.

If Brady didn’t get the ball out so quickly last week, then I think Davenport would have impacted the game a lot more the stats sheet. He had one QB hit and one QB hurry, which isn’t bad considering how quickly Brady got the ball out.

This Is the week for Davenport to announce himself and show he’s a rising star in the league.

State of the Rosters

It looks like both teams will be close to full strength this week. Despite a lot of Saints players being listed as ‘Limited’ this week, there doesn’t seem to be much concern about them not playing on Sunday.

Saints hope to have training camp MVP Paulson Adebo suit up for first time this season. Allowing Bradley Roby to move into the slot, this was the role the Saints wanted for him after trading C.J. Gardner Johnson. This could be even more important if Marcus Maye can’t play, with Roby in the slot that would free up Justin Evans to cover some of the Maye’s snaps at safety along with P.J. Williams.

Sadly after sustaining a Knee injury in Thursday’s practice rookie Alontae Taylor isn’t going to be able to build on this strong performance last week against Tampa. He is out for Sundays game.

There was a scare earlier in the week for Carolina when McCaffery was added to the report with an Ankle injury. He will play on Sunday per multiple reports and is carrying no injury designation for the game. Donte Jackson was also a concern for Carolina and is questionable but practised full on Friday which is usually a sign he will play.

Score Prediction

This is a big game for both teams, the Panthers must win if they want to have any chance at making the playoffs. The Saints really need a boost before heading off to London for week 4 and really don’t need another division loss on their record.

It should be a get right game for two of New Orleans struggling units. The offensive passing game and the pash rush.

I think we see a better offensive showing this week, but still not perfect. With Winston having a much more consistent game passing with more rhythm. Maybe not consistent for all four quarters as he’s still working his way through his back injury.

The Saints continue where they left off last week and dominate the running game with Alvin Kamara back and leading the charge.

Then the pass rush finally shows some life and registers 3+ sacks on the day.

Score- 26-16 Saints win

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

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