In what was a must-win game on Sunday in the Caesars Superdome, the Saints managed to hold on to a 39-32 victory to keep their season alive and move to 2-3 on the season. Despite the game being ludicrous from start to finish.
Let’s break down what on earth happened in what will now forever be known as the ‘Taysom Hill game’.
Finally!!!!! Some consistent offensive rhythm and effectiveness were achieved on Sunday. Part of me believes that this is what OC Pete Carmichael Jr has been trying to achieve since the start of the season.
How did they achieve this? Feeding Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill. Between them, they rushed for 215 yards on 32 carries, which averages out at 6.7 yards per rush.
Kamara looked the best he has all season with 23 of those carries for 103 yards and also added Six receptions for 91 yards, including an incredibly well-executed 54-yard screen play. He did have another costly fumble; this trend sadly is continuing. It went from the Saints driving to end the half with likely a field goal or maybe a touchdown. To Seattle getting the back on the Saints side of the field and scoring a TD.
The fumbles have to stop, period. End of story and they keep coming at costly times It will lose them more games if it continues.
This was the blueprint for using Taysom Hill, He ran nine times for 112-yards and three touchdowns, and he was lethal in short yardage and in the RedZone. Whilst also adding a huge 60-yard touchdown run for good measure.
Crucially to keep defences honest Carmichael dialled up a perfect passing play for Taysom, which resulted in a 22-yard touchdown pass for Adam Trautman. Hill commented in his post-game press conference “Hey, we really like this play, so don’t be surprised if that’s one of the first plays I get to with you”. Carmichael had seen this was going to work, dialled it up and Hill executed it perfectly.
This game plan might explain the persistence of running on first and second down, much to Saints fans dismay throughout the first 4 games of the year. This was something that ‘Sneaky Pete’ as he’s known by Saints players, knew they could do, and I think he thought the Saints offensive identity could be built around it.
The absence of Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara at the start of this season may be through a spanner in the works of his grant plan.
Now, maybe I’m reading into this too much and this was just a great matchup for this game plan and that’s why the Saints lent into and executed it, and this won’t be the plan going forward, but I firmly believe a version of this is how the Saints offense needs to try and play going forward.
Andy Dalton was again solid, he got the ball out on time and made plays when he needed to. The running game took centre stage and Dalton did what he needed to in the passing game when required. Dalton’s thrived off play action and throw a dime to Chris Olave for a touchdown on third down in the RedZone.
Olave made an incredible play but got concussed in the process which looked scary! Fingers crossed it isn’t something that lingers A). for Olave’s health and B). because Olave looks like a stud, a true home run pick and a true number one WR in the making.
However, he did turn the ball over again, with a slightly inaccurate throw to Tre’Quan Smith that was picked by Tariq Woolen (I called this in my key matchups article before the game).
Dalton has not done enough to slam the door shut on Winston returning to the starting line-up after healing from his injuries. However, there’s no doubt that the offense has looked its best so far with Dalton under center.
Other Offense Notes
- Shout out to the o-line, amazing in the run game and only allowed one sack.
- Tre’Quan Smith again shows inconsistency, he played really well against Carolina and had the chance to make two crucial plays this week but dropped them both.
- Mark Ingram does not look right, after showing good burst and vision against Tampa, he’s really struggled since in a game where Kamara and Hill averaged 6.7 yards-per-carry he averaged 1.8.
Well, where to start?
Let’s start with the good.
Cameron Jordan was again great. He had 1.5 sacks both on huge third downs and looked to be around the QB plenty throughout the game, ESPN has him with 2 QB hits and 2TFLs. This is now two games in a row Cam has dominated and long may it continue.
Linebackers Pete Werner and Demario Davis. Werner continues to shine, he’s constantly where the ball is and when he’s there he makes plays. Werner forced a crucial fumble at the start of the second half.
Which set the Saints up with a short field which they converted into a touchdown to take the lead.
Davis is still a stud and very rarely on the wrong side of plays, it’s just Werner is standing out so much Davis is merging nicely into the background.
Finally, Marshon Lattimore, after he struggled against Justin Jefferson last week, he looked to have put together a pretty clean game against DK Metcalf. Only looked like he gave up one catch in coverage against D.K and had a PBU on another.
Something to monitor here throughout the week. Lattimore did not finish the game after injuring his abdomen, hopefully, it’s not serious, not having him next week Vs Cincinnati would be brutal.
The Seahawks were 1-9 on third down, but still scored 32 points, which leads us onto the bad which was how Seattle managed those points with such a putrid stat line on third down.
The rest of the secondary (maybe minus Bradley Roby it was hard to tell). Paulson Adebo got roasted, gave up multiple huge plays in the passing game and really struggled against Tyler Lockett specifically. Lockett is certainly a good WR, but it is disappointing to see a player we all thought was taking a huge leap this season struggle so much. Hopefully, this was just a bad game for Adebo rather than a sign of things to come.
The safeties did not look good and Marcus Maye is definitely more missed than initially realised, they need him back this week desperately, all reports suggest they will, but there was thought he’d be back this week, so fingers crossed. Also doesn’t help not having primary backup P.J. Williams available did not help.
This meant Justin Evans was thrust into the starting role and J.T. Gray, who’s an excellent special teamer but not someone you want playing serious snaps on defense, in this game he had to contribute in this phase of the game.
Tyrann Mathieu looks like a player that is far more effective in the box than back deep at this stage of his career. Due to injuries, he had to play the deeper role more than you’d like and I think frailties showed.
The Saints’ defense gave up a massive eight plays of 15 yards or more and six of those were over 30 yards. Many of those were big pass plays that certainly fall on the secondary play, especially the safeties and even Kenneth Walker’s huge 69-yard touchdown run, looked like the secondary did not stay in their lanes to keep the backside contained and Walker exploited that.
Saints Special Teams
Will Lutz was great again going on-for-one on field goals ( a perfect 56-yard kick) and 4/4 on extra points.
Blake Gillikin on the other hand was not. He had four punts, two ended in touchbacks, and another was a 25-yard shank, he had the chance to pin them deep when the Saints needed it most, but that punt ended up on the Seattle 22.
Gillikin hasn’t seemed himself and maybe my expectations were too high after being excellent last season but he needs to return to be a weapon for this team.
Finally, enter the front-runner for the most bizarre play of the week. Seattle lined up to punt at their own 29 it was fourth and nine and well this happened:
Was it a fake attempt? it looked like it, but it made no sense to do it where and when they did and it had no chance from the word go. Who recovered the fumble? of course it was Taysom Hill.
Hill also had more presence on special teams when he started to return kickoffs after Deonte Harty went out. It was just Hill’s day today on his first attempt after a nice return he fumbled but recovered it himself, otherwise looked good returning kicks.
The Saints had to win this game and they found a way to today. Who knows if this will turn around their season? Penalties and turnovers are still an issue they need to fix or it will cost them games.
To be honest, though, it was just nice to see a win, with some exciting offense.
Need to keep an eye on the injury report this week, New Orleans needs to get some good news on that front with the Joe Burrow/ Ja’Marr Chase homecoming up next for them in the Dome next Sunday.
Look out for the preview of that game later in the week New Orleans Saints – Full10Yards
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