Breaking down the Saints loss to the Bills

November 26, 2021

The Saints are starting to look like the team they once were a few years ago, a few years ago as in the 2016 Saints, as they lost their fourth straight game for the first time since the 2016 season. And now for the first time since the 2016 season, the Saints are below .500 past week three. 

It has been a rough season overall for the Saints, but these past few weeks have been terrible. It just seems like the morale of the team went down south after the Jameis Winston injury and finding out that Michael Thomas would miss the whole season. 

As for this Thursday night football game, there are a lot of takeaways from the game and a lot to improve upon prior to their next game. 

Offensive breakdown 

Once again, the Saints offense was a complete disaster. At some point Sean Payton has to try something new to get a spark in this team going. For the 10th straight game, the Saints did not put up any points on their opening drive and just set a bad tone for the rest of the game. If you wanna know how bad this offense really is, they had four first downs up until 3:38 in the third quarter and had 64 offensive yards up to that point. 

I think that Sean Payton had a decent game plan, the offense did start to get into a small rhythm before they shot themselves in the foot with costly sacks and penalties. Payton was calling some nice plays to get the running back open and used motions to get Tre’Quan on a favorable mismatch, it was a nice job on Payton’s part, but there’s only so much he can do as a coach before the skill and awareness of players come into effect, which caused these mistakes. 

But, hey, that’s been the story of the season. One step forward and two steps back. That’s my offensive breakdown from this game, now I’ll do a breakdown of each positional group. 

Quarterback 

Man, it’s a poor situation the Saints are currently in. Siemian cannot find ways to connect with his guys and has no chemistry with this group of guys. Feels like his throws are predetermined based on the play as opposed to the matchups and when his first read isn’t there he dumps it off. Like I said before there’s only so much Sean Payton can do as a coach to set his team up for success, but there’s a line where talent comes into play and the Saints quarterback situation right now lacks spark, leadership, and chemistry with the locker room. We’ve seen this the past two and a half weeks especially. Siemian had some bad missed throws on some critical downs which set the Saints up for a punt. 

Runningback 

It was a hard sight to see at running back for the Saints. No Alvin Kamara, no Mark Ingram and that left Tony Jones Jr. as the main guy along with Ty Montgomery. Jones did as good as a second/third string running back would do against a Bills top five rushing defense. Montgomery did a nice job in the receiving game out of the backfield. Personally I think it would’ve been nice to see Dwayne Washington get some reps, but it seems like he wasn’t a part of the game plan for the week. Definitely missed Ingram and Kamara desperately.

Receivers

The receiver group which has struggled all season did as good a job as someone could do given the quarterback situation and opportunity. There is improvement in the position group, but it still isn’t good. They are just now starting to do what they’re supposed to do. For a scale of how they’ve performed, Tre’Quan Smith had an average separation of 4.3 yards which is probably close to the best it’s been all season. Deonte Harris had an average separation of 3.4 yards, which is decent, but had a crucial drop but to be fair it was thrown behind him. Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Marquez Callaway did a good job of finding soft spots in zone coverage but couldn’t get much done given the lack of opportunity. 

Offensive line

The line didn’t look good, but there is some leeway and understanding to some of it. First thing is the pass protection. It felt like Siemian was under pressure for a good portion of the game, and while this can easily be blamed on the line, it goes deeper than that. The average quarterback drop back is 3-5 steps which is 5-6 yards, Siemian was averaging a 9-11 yard drop back. That’s double what it should be making it difficult for the tackles to judge where to protect their quarterback based on their basic fundamentals. Armstead in his head thinks Siemian is in the pocket and tries to keep his rusher out of the pocket, but when the quarterback drops back on the pocket he’s gonna be pressured. 

Now on the other hand, it was bad. Erik McCoy had a rough game and had a bad early snap on fourth down. James Hurst had a shaky game and couldn’t get good fundamentals down like footwork. 

The run game was overall bad. While some of you may disagree with this, Andrus Peat has definitely missed in the run game recently with the rushing game struggling. Hopefully once the line gets back to somewhat healthy we see some improvements made. 

Defensive breakdown 

The defense had its moments of good and bad. Creating turnovers and forcing the Bills to only 10 points in the first half was a definite win. This defense still has juice; but that juice starts to drain when the other aspect of your football team doesn’t provide any help. While this defense did have some high points, there was a really bad low point, the tackling. The defense struggled tackling all game long and caused a few missed stops in third down and some touchdowns were scored off this mistake. When your defense struggles to make tackles, your team will struggle and a lot of points will be given up.

Front seven

Despite the very very thin depth at the defensive line, the Saints were still capable of getting some pressure. Carl Granderson had a solid game along with Cameron Jordan. While Jordan didn’t get a sack, he was still getting pressure on Allen and forced some mistakes. While the pass rush was solid, the run defense did have some difficulty which is bound to happen when the team is struggling to tackle and you’re thin at depth. Definitely something that needs to be worked on prior to next week’s game. 

Secondary 

A big problem this week in the secondary was their eyes. They got their eyes in the backfield and didn’t read their keys. Lattimore got burnt a few times because of his eyes getting caught in the backfield. Bradley Roby is becoming an important part of this secondary and had a pretty solid game, had some miscues but also had some shine. 

Marcus Williams struggled the most in tackling and definitely had one of his more slouches of a game this season. 

Special teams 

The kickoff return game was very bad and the Bills were ready for it. They did a high kick to allow their kickoff team to get downfield and it worked. Deonte never got past the 25 on a return and the Bills just dominated that aspect of the game. They knew the offense wouldn’t be able to do much and that the return game would be relied upon, the Bills did a great job of covering each kickoff. On the bright side, Brett Maher didn’t miss an extra point or a field goal.

Written By Kadin Janisch

If you need to contact me email me at whodattnation@gmail.com and I’ll try to get back to you.

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