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5 Positives/Negatives Following Saints’ Loss To Vikings

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

 

Below are five positives, and also five negatives, to take from the New Orleans Saints’ 29-19 road loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.

The loss, the 4th-consecutive opening week setback for the Saints, dropped them to 0-1 on the season.

Positives:  

1)—Coby Fleener: After a subpar year in the first season with the Saints in 2016, Fleener had a nice start to 2017, compiling 5 catches for 54 yards and the team’s only touchdown. He looked real good on a seam route in the second quarter, and then on a crossing route, which set up his late touchdown grab.Yeah, it’s only one game, but I’m only grading on this game. Fleener was good on Monday night.

2)—Thomas Morstead: Simply put, he was outstanding. Three punts, for an average of 57.o yards, with a long punt of 68 yards, which pinned the Vikings inside their own 10-yard line at the time.

3)—Alex Okafor: He finish a solid Saints’ debut, finishing with 6 tackles, including 4 solo stops, and 2 stops for losses. I think he’s going to be a nice compliment to Cameron Jordan at defensive end.

4)—Zach Wood: The was a lot of concern about the Saints’ long snapper issues, but Wood was perfect on Monday night. He was on the money on all four punt attempts, as well as three field goal attempts and one extra point.

5)—Will Lutz: He was perfect on al four field goal attempts, including a 43-yarder. It’s been awhile since Saints fans haven’t had to worry about the placekicker, so enjoy it.

Negatives: 

1)—Defense: Sam Bradford looked like a Hall of Famer on Monday night, completing 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a career-best performance. His passer efficiency rating of 143.0 also was the highest of his career. Not only that, but rookie Dalvin Cook rushed for 127 yards, while receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs combined for 16 catches for 250 yards. I still expect the Saints’ defense to be better this year, but you couldn’t tell by last night’s performance.

2)—Lack Of Pass Rush: Bradford attempted 33 passes, and was only sacked once. The Vikings spent a lot of money in the offseason to improve their offensive line, and I suspect they will be a lot better than last year. Still, there was hope the Saints’ front could produce some pressure on Bradford, but that never came close to materializing.

3)—Secondary: You have to take into account that the Saints were really playing without Delvin Breaux, arguably their best corner. That being said, this group was not good. They blew coverages, and looked lost, at times. Not a good thing to have ever happen, especially with Tom Brady coming to town on Sunday.

4)—Offensive Line: It was obvious the Saints were conservative on Monday night, likely because they didn’t trust the offensive line. What made matters even worse was when the Saints lost Zach Strief to injury in the second quarter with a knee injury. The momentum switched right there. If the Saints have to play even a few games without both Terron Armstead and Zach Strief, they will be in trouble.

5)—Lack Of Plays From Skill Position Players: Brees finished with 291 yards passing, but couldn’t get the Saints into the end zone until late in the 4th quarter…Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram, and Alvin Kamara averaged 2.8 yards-per-carry, combined…and Michael Thomas was held under 50 receiving yards. The Saints played without Willie Snead (suspended) and Brandin Cooks (traded), two of their top three receivers from a year ago, and it showed. Granted, the Vikings have one of the top defenses in the league, but the Saints are an offensive team. They won’t win many games with that type of production from their skill players.

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