The Saints have snuck their way back into the playoff race after an impressive win over the Buccaneers. The Saints find themselves at 7-7 and in a comfortable position to make a final playoff push.
Their impressive win over the Buccaneers showcased that they once again, can beat any time as long as they don’t get in their own way. This was the Saints first win without Drew Brees and Sean Payton since November 27th of 2005, and with this win that puts Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who was the temporary head coach on Sunday, a top head coach candidate this offseason for other teams this offseason.
I’d like to start off by just saying that this defense is a championship level type of defense, and the offense is just not fun to watch. The front four did what was needed to get done to beat a Tom Brady team, they got constant pressure with just four. Dennis Allen did a phenomenal job of disguising pressures and showing new looks. Putting Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport on the same side was one new look which worked. They showed some of their new looks with Jordan playing on the interior defensive line next to Davenport and Onyemata. These new looks forced pressure and Brady and caused uncharted mistakes.
The linebackers did a solid job of shutting down the run game, but it felt like the run game for Tampa Bay was shut down before the game started. The Bucs didn’t run the ball until 14:55 in the second quarter. The Bucs game plan could’ve been to just not run the ball early in the game as the Saints run defense has been one of the best over the past three to four years. The Saints front seven has done such a good job in the past that it forced the Bucs to eliminate that part of their playbook early in the game and make them one dimensional.
One of the most impressive performances of the season by the secondary was on Tom Brady. The secondary was physical and aggressive with the Bucs skill positions, a lot more physical than any of their previous matchups and more physical than any team the Bucs have played in the past few weeks. They didn’t back down, they got chippy and got under the Bucs’ skin which forced mistakes. They shut down the short crossing routes over the middle that the Bucs utilized in their last matchup.
That’s what this defense did so well on in all elements of the defense. They got physical and aggressive, that’s how they won, that’s how they forced uncharacteristic mistakes, and now here they are standing at 7-7.
Now we gotta talk about the offense, which just is so bad I’m not sure how to explain it. It was good enough to get three field goals and get the win.
In the first quarter the offense had done a good job moving the ball, and just like the defense they got aggressive with the Bucs defense. They took shots downfield and took advantage of their mismatches with the Bucs down three defensive backs. Marquez Callaway had himself an impressive game, and became the first wide receiver this season with 100 receiving yards in a game. He came up with some big catches to set up the field goals and played a critical role in how aggressive the Saints offense game planned for the game.
That was the one shining part of the offense… Now we gotta talk about everything else unfortunately.
Taysom Hill has to be better, he looked decent in the first quarter. He got the ball out quick and didn’t force throws into coverage. He played smart, threw the ball away, and ran when it was warranted. He dropped a beauty of a pass to Callaway. The rest of the game however, Hill didn’t look good. The offensive line did a good job in pass protection, but Hill wouldn’t step up into the pocket forcing himself into situations where he’s under pressure when he shouldn’t. If Hill wants to keep plays alive and keep his eyes downfield he needs to step up in the pocket and trust the guys giving him protection. Stepping up by itself will give Hill an extra 2ish seconds as opposed to running outside the pocket and scrambling.
Hill also needs to get on the same page as Alvin Kamara, it’s not ever a bad idea to dump it off to the best running back in the NFL, but you have to be on the same page. Hill missed Kamara on some option routes and one critical Texas route on third down which would’ve been a huge play. To go with this, the Saints need to find more creative ways to get Alvin Kamara the ball more often. Put him in the slot, use motions things like that to misdirect the defense and set up a similar play later on for a big gain.
Those are the two big things I took away from the offense. Taysom Hill needs to be better, and finding more creative ways to get Alvin Kamara the ball, and going down this final playoff push, those two things are going to be important.
I’d like to shout out the special team as well, they did an outstanding job.
Players i’d like to give recognition for: the whole Defense, Cam Jordan and CGJ especially, Marquez Callaway, Blake Gillikin, and Andrew Dowell.
Written By Kadin Janisch
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