Who needs touchdowns when you have the Saints defense to win games? The Saints squeaked by the Panthers in a 18-10 win and scored one touchdown after not scoring a touchdown in 11 quarters of NFL football.
The game was won by the defense and the leg of Brett Maher, and even then he missed a PAT and kept the Panthers in the game.
This Saints defense does not like to allow points. While every defense is supposed to feel that way, this defense takes it even more personally than any defense. They allowed 10 points and one touchdown, after that touchdown, in the words of Ceedy Duce, “That first touchdown pissed us off”.
This defense simply tries to hold every opponent to a goose egg, they believe they can do it and honestly they can. They had some early struggles in the game tackling and not playing physical man coverage. The Panthers scheme of throwing quick passes and screens and not anything downfield played a role as to why the start was sloppy, but adjustments were made and the defense balled. While balling, the defense was balling with swag. They were dancing on the field, sideline, getting the crowd involved, and they brought the juice. Hence their name from early in the season “Juice Boyzz”. The passion, grit, swag, and physicality of this defense is what makes them so special.
The game ball goes to the whole defense, but the key performers include Cameron Jordan and Ceedy Duce.
Now we get to talk about the Saints offense… yay!
Sean Payton did a good job of getting Alvin Kamara the ball early and in space, something that has been missed. Running the ball with Kamara just seems useless especially when four of the starting five offensive linemen are out, but getting Kamara the ball in the receiving game is something that Payton needs to do more of moving forward, especially if the Saints slip into the playoffs.
Running the ball feels useless when the whole offensive line is out, and Sunday’s game against the Panthers showed that. The Saints had the most success running the ball when Taysom Hill tucked it and ran the ball. Kamara had one carry go for 30 yards, the other 12 carries went for a total of 2 yards. Payton can’t waste first down running the ball when his starting linemen are out, but what he can do is set up a Kamara swing pass like he did on the opening series. Use extensions of the run game rather than actually running the ball.
Taysom looked a lot more comfortable in the passing game, but still dealt with a lot of problems. Him and Alvin Kamara got somewhat on the same page, which is always a good idea if you wanna have any production on offense. Hill’s decisiveness has gotten better, knowing when to run, when to throw it away, and knowing when some plays are dead and when some are alive.
These are things that are going to help him be a better quarterback, but the missed opportunities don’t help him. He missed some huge plays on some big downs. Juwan Johnson was open on a third down, but Hill ran instead, forcing a punt. Then the miscommunication with Alvin Kamara forcing a field goal instead of a touchdown; and the near interception where he missed an open Callaway and Humphrey from a communication issue. These communication issues are due from the lack of chemistry and time played together. If Hill has more time it would be something that is fixable, but now it’s too late. It’s not fixable at this point, it’s something that the Saints will have struggles with until next year.
One final thing on Hill, he’s done a good job of getting Callaway involved. He trusts Callaway, who can be good if he becomes more consistent. He likes to get him the ball and give him a chance to make a play, and Callaway did a few times during the game. Then there were some drops which is concerning, because the talent is there with some development and experience, it’s the consistency that is lacking.
As a whole the Saints need to take advantage of opportunities. The Saints defense set them up inside the 15 and the offense came away with a field goal. The Saints defense forced punts and good field position for the Saints at the Panthers 40 yard line. Those drives resulted in a punt and a field goal. That can’t happen if they find a way into the playoffs. They need to execute on their opponents’ mistakes.
With one regular season game remaining the Saints need help to get into the playoffs.
With a loss the Saints are eliminated.
Vikings win their final two games
49ers lose to Rams
Eagles lose to Cowboys
Vikings lose to Packers
49ers lose to Rams
Vikings win out
Eagles loss vs Cowboys
49ers loss vs Rams
Saints win and get 6 seed
Written By Kadin Janisch
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