5 Positives/5 Negatives From Saints’ Win Over Lions
Below are five positives, and also five negatives, to take from the New Orleans Saints’ 52-38 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
The victory improved the Saints to 2-2 on the season.
1)---Craig Robertson---The Saints' leading tackler a season ago, Robertson filled in for the injured Alex Anzalone, and was fantastic. He led the team in tackles, with 11, forced a fumble on a great strip of Matthew Stafford, and was good in pass coverage. I thought he should have been playing more anyway, so I'm not overly surprised.
2)---Running Backs---Mark Ingram rushed for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns on 25 carries, while Alvin Kamara rushed for another 75 yards on 10 attempts. Together, they rushed for 189 yards, against a Detroit defense that was ranked third against the run coming into the game. Just one week prior, the Lions held the Panthers to 28 rush yards on 28 carries. What Ingram and Kamara did on Sunday, shredding the Lions on the ground, was incredibly impressive.
3)---Terron Armstead---He's back from his preseason injury, and it provided the Saints a big boost. When healthy, Armstead is a top-tier tackle, and allows the Saints to play Andrus Peat at guard, where he belongs, and Ryan Ramczyk to right tackle, where he belongs. Armstead's presence makes the offensive a strength. Not only did the line open up huge holes for the running backs to run through, averaging 5.4 yards-per-carry, they also didn't allow a single sack, and gave Drew Brees plenty of time to find open receivers.
4)---Secondary---No, the secondary wasn't perfect, as evidence by Golden Tate's 51-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, in which the tackling was absolutely putrid. However, the secondary made key plays, like the pass coverage which allowed the sack-fumble touchdown in the first quarter, Marshon Lattimore’s tackle of Darren Fells at the Saints’ 1 on fourth down in the fourth quarter, and Kenny Vaccaro's interception, which sealed the game in the fourth quarter. You're allowed to give up 315 pass yards, when you make the plays the secondary made on Sunday.
5)---Saints Are 3-2---Is that a great record? No. But understand that the number on the left is greater than the number on the right for the first time in four years. That's right, the last time the Saints were over .500 was 2013, which was also the last time they made the playoffs. Even more encouraging, the Saints play the Packers, who will be without Aaron Rodgers next week, before hosting the Bears. They have a realistic chance to push their win streak to five games, and improve to 5-2 after 7 games. Who would have thought that after week 2?
1)---Inability To Put Lions Away---The Saints held a 38-10 lead with 9:17 to go in the third quarter, but the Lions had the football, down 7 points, in the fourth quarter, before the Saints went on to win. It was a crazy game, and the Saints are still young, but in that situation, especially at home, you have to put the opponent away for good.
2)---Punt Coverage---Jamal Agnew returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to get Detroit within 14 points, and get them right back into the game. Long returns always pad statistics, but even excluding that return, Agnew still had three returns for 32 yards, for an average of over 10 yards. That's too many.
3)---Turnovers----Well, you knew the Saints would turn over the football, eventually. They came into the game having not turned over the ball all season, so they were due. On Sunday, Brees was intercepted twice, and they fumbled it over once. Now, on a positive note, they forced five turnovers, so they actually finished plus-2 in the turnover department, but 3 turnovers is too many.
4)---Coby Fleener---The Saints' tight ends caught two passes, and Fleener didn't catch either. I thought he might jump-start his season with a nice game on Sunday, but it just didn't happen. Fleener got off to a nice start this season, with 8 receptions in the first two weeks, but has compiled only three catches over his last three games. The Saints have to find a way for him to be more productive.
5)---Third Down Efficiency---The Saints were only 2-of-12 on third down attempts on Sunday. That's been a problem all year too. Last season, New Orleans led the NFL in third down efficiency, converting only 48% of their attempts. This season, they're around 40%. They need to get better in this department.