5 Positives/5 Negatives From Saints’ Loss To Patriots
Below are five positives, and also five negatives, to take from the New Orleans Saints’ 36-20 home loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon.
The loss dropped the Saints to 0-2, the 4th-consecutive season they've lost their first two games.
1)—Coby Fleener: After a subpar year in the first season with the Saints in 2016, Fleener is off to a nice start in 2017. After compiling 5 catches for 54 yards and the team’s only touchdown in the Saints' 29-19 season-opening loss to the Vikings, Fleener added another touchdown catch on Sunday. Understand, 3 catches for 33 yards isn't great, but how many great performances were there in that debacle on Sunday? A touchdown catch, and another nice 20-yard catch by Fleener is more than good enough to make this list, this week.
2)---Offensive Line: Surprised by this? Well, all I can say is you have to put things into the large sample-size. Everybody knew the Saints' offensive line would struggle on Sunday, and it did, but not to the extent they I, or many, thought. Andrus Peat went from left guard to left tackle, Senio Kelemete started at left guard and Ryan Ramczyk went from left tackle to right tackle. That's a lot of switching around. No, there weren't many holes for the backs to run through, and Peat got beat a couple of times, but all things considering, the offensive line played well enough to give them a chance, which is all anyone could have realistically expected.
3)---Marshon Lattimore---The rookie looked OK on Sunday. Was he great? No. But compared to the rest of the secondary, he looked like a Hall of Famer. He made former Saints' receiver Brandin Cooks work for his catches, plus he finished second on the team with 7 tackles. The bad news is he left the game in the former quarter, after colliding with teammate Vonn Bell. Hopefully, he'll be good to go next Sunday.
4)---Hau'oli Kikaha---He got a sack, one of only two on the day. Kikaha has one job, and that is to produce pressure; and while I wouldn't call one tackle a superlative effort, he did produce a sack, something I began to wonder if he would ever get again.
5)---Thomas Morstead---He punted really well, for the second-consecutive week. He only averaged 40.3 yards on three punts, but two of those punts placed the Patriots inside their own 20, and another he bombed for 51 yards. Yeah, I know; anytime a guy that had one tackle makes the list, along with the punter, it probably wasn't a good day.
1)—Defense: Sam Bradford looked like a Hall of Famer on opening week, 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. On Sunday, Tom Brady, who will be a Hall of Famer, shredded the Saints, throwing for 447 yards, the fourth-highest total of his career, to go along with 3 touchdowns. Brady threw for 302 yards in the first half alone, while the Patriots scored 30 first half points, which could have been more, had Rob Gronkowski not dropped a touchdown pass at the end of the half. It was an absolute putrid performance by the defense, which allowed 555 total yards.
2)—Lack Of Pass Rush: In the Saints' loss to the Vikings in week 1, Bradford attempted 33 passes, and was only sacked once. On Sunday, Brady was sacked only twice in 39 pass attempts. With the secondary playing as poorly as it is, it doesn't help matters that the pass rush has been virtually non-existent through the first two weeks. I wonder if the draft gurus are already penciling in a pass rusher as the Saints' selection in the first round?
3)---Kenny Vaccaro: I hate to single out this guy. because I've always been a fan, and others are playing just as poorly as him, but he has not played well, has been the subject of trade speculation, and was even yanked off the field. Vaccaro's strength has never been as a guy that plays the ball well in the air. That being said, he has had a brutal first two weeks, blowing coverages, and looking downright lost at times. He couldn't contain Gronkowski, who had 6 catches for 116 yards, and was even benched during the game. I think Vaccaro will get better. He has to. If he doesn't, the Saints could be in big trouble.
4)—Lack Of Plays From Skill Position Players: Brees finished with 356 yards passing, but didn't look Brees-like at times. The running backs, Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram, and Alvin Kamara, if you exclude Ingram's meaningless 28-yard run on the last play of the game, averaged 3.8 yards-per-carry, combined. And the starting receivers, Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn, Jr. were held without a touchdown. Yes Brandon Coleman did have a touchdown catch, but that is the only one from a skill position player in two weeks, For an "offensive team", playing in an "offensive era", that's just not going to cut it.
5)---Record Is 0-2: For the fourth-consecutive year, the Saints are 0-2. Why is that so important, other than the obvious? Well, since 1990, only 12.5% of the teams that started 0-2 ended up making the playoffs. How did the Saints ended their seasons over the last three years? With 7-9 records, and out of the playoffs. The Saints are now 1-11 in September over the last four years, and have a tough one next week, on the road, against the Panthers.