Falcons 26, Saints 9

Saints vs Falcons 1: The good, bad and ugly

Michael Thomas was clutch. Michael C Hevert, Saints website

In the 22nd meeting of Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, The Saints dropped the ball and fell to 7-2 with a 26-9 loss to their heated division rival. Here are my observations:

The Good

​-Michael Thomas had 13 catches on 14 targets for 152 yards. He was the lone bright spot in a dim game for the Saints. Brees was 32/45 for 287 yards, but failed to throw a touchdown pass. Thomas is the Saints top receiver. Everyone knows he's going to get the ball and be targeted a high percentage of the time, yet he still dominates. If he's not considered one of the top receivers in the league, something is wrong with that list.

-Marcus Williams came from the middle of the field to pick off Matt Ryan with four minutes left in the game and the team down by 14. Eli Apple lost his man on a go route and Williams made the save. This was the type of play that makes Williams one of the better players on this defense and one of the best young safeties this team has ever had.

-Julio Jones is one of the best wide receivers in the game. He's usually a matchup nightmare for the Saints and anyone else he goes up against. After Marshon Lattimore got hurt, the rest of the defensive backs picked up his slack and held Jones to three catches on nine targets for 79 yards, with 54 of those yards coming on a play in which Apple bumped into a teammate and caused Jones to be wide open.

The Bad

-By the start of the 2nd quarter, the Falcons ran for a season first half high of 67 yards. They ended the first half with 85 yards (21 more than their previous first half high) and totaled 143 yards, which is 74.5 yards more than their season average of 68.5 per game.

-The Saints average 6.6 penalties (tied for ninth) and 51.2 penalty yards (4th) per game. They had 11 penalties today for 85 yards. Four of those were illegal use of hands to the face. This is something that has to be addressed. It's not normally called this frequently, but every one of them were legit. It's similar to holding because it can be called on every play.

-Speaking of the run game, the Saints only managed 52 yards on 11 carries themselves. They came into this game averaging 114.3 yards per game. The fact that they were playing from behind all game played a large part in this stat. Only running the ball 11 times is no excuse. The Falcons averaged giving up 118.4 yards a game on the ground. Sean Payton seemed to panic and keep throwing instead of sticking with the run.

The Ugly

-To say the Falcons' pass rush has been anemic this season would be an understatement. They came into this game with seven sacks. While the Saints' pass protection, and Brees' pocket presence, has typically yielded low sack numbers. They gave up six today and had only given up 12 all season.

-228 yards and nine points are numbers you'd think you'd see in the 1st quarter, not a game total. When Brees has played a complete game this season, the Saints averaged over 500 yards and 30.5 points per game. Not a good look, especially when you're in the race for homefield advantage in the NFC.

-Lattimore (hamstring) and Andrus Peat (arm) both left the game in the first half. Neither returned to play and it showed. Jones got all his catches and yards after Lattimore got hurt, and Brees was sacked five times after Peat went out. Not to mention left tackle Terron Armstead has been sick all week. This made for a disaster along the offensive line.

This rivalry will always be intense. Over the last two decades, the Saints have dominated the series 24-15. For a 1-7 team to play and dominate a 7-1 team in their buiklding is unacceptable from a Saints point of view. Props to Falcons' head coach Dan Quinn for having his team prepared. Sometimes a team needs a kick in the pants to get them going. The Saints were coming off a bye, played at home, and lost to a division rival who was heading towards a top draft pick due to their record. Next week when they play Tampa, I'll be interested in seeing how this Saints team comes out.

The team also officially promoted Jack Easterby as well

Bill O'Brien now Texans General Manager in addition to head coach

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Bill O'Brien has a new placard on his desk.

New title for O'Brien and his unofficial assistant GM

As seen above the Texans have named Bill O'Brien as the general manager in addition to his role as the team's head coach. O'Brien joins his former boss Bill Belichick as one of the members of the NFL coaching community who also has the decision-making powers.

Jack Easterby, who also previously worked with the New England Patriots, now has an official title too. It was widely believed he had heavy input on the team in his past year with the team.

This had been coming

It would be interesting to know if this was something known in the building by the team or just assumed. Either way, something long whispered, came to fruition.

With the amount of front office talent that has left the organization in the past year there was some belief O'Brien was consolidating his power. Today, he has all the power in the organization.

Business as usual, with the titles

SB Nation Radio NFL Insider Adam Caplan told me teams have treated the situation in Houston as if O'Brien was the Texans general manager since Brian Gaine was fired by the team.

Now O'Brien has the title with the work. He is in charge of the team from a management perspective, he is the head coach, and he calls the plays for the teams.

How does this work?

HoustonTexans.com

I don't think it does work. I don't see it. SB Nation Radio NFL Insider Adam Caplan told me the expectation from the league is O'Brien will do whatever he has to do to keep his job.

O'Brien did a ton this past offseason and yet the team regressed in many areas. Without a regular slate of draft picks and quite a few of their own players set to hit free agency the Texans are in a tough spot.

Short of O'Brien really taking the next step along with a few of his key players and some solid and smart spending the Texans might have hit their ceiling in 2019. If that's the case, O'Brien could theoretically survive a similar campaign in 2020. But, there are no more excuses. O'Brien has nobody to blame but himself now.

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