Saints vs. Falcons meeting 1: Observations

Drew Brees and Ted Ginn led the charge.

Wow! These two teams routinely put on exciting games that often go down to the wire. Today’s 43-37 win by the Saints was no exception. Let’s take a look at some observations from this barn burner:

The Good

-Drew Brees is now the NFL’s career pass completions leader. He did it in typical Brees fashion on a short curl route to Michael Thomas. He ate the Falcons up on the short and intermediate routes as he’s very adept with throwing the ball into pinhole-sized openings for completions. His best play of the game was his game-tying touchdown run with just over a minute left in regulation.

-Saints took advantage of a blocked punt mid way through the third quarter to go ahead 23-21 on a Brees to Cameron Meredith touchdown pass. Creating turnovers and scoring off them has been a recipe for success for the Saints whenever they’ve been contenders. Basic football math: more possessions= more chances= more points.

-The Saints racked up 534 total yards of offense. Sure the Falcons were missing several key defenders, but to take advantage of it with that many yards and 43 points in a back and forth affair was amazing.

The Bad

-With the ball inside the 10 yard line up 10-7, the Saints had to settle for a field goal because of compound penalties. A holding call, followed by a false start pushed them out of the red zone. Seeing tons of teams this year shoot themselves with compound penalties. *(I’m going to poor-man copyright that phrase. No Stealing!)

-The defense continues to give up points and yards at an alarming rate. In fact, 407 yards and 37 points is enough to get you blown out of most games. What happens when this team runs up against the teams with an equally good defense? Shootouts aren’t a recipe for playoff success, much less making the playoffs.

-Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas accounted for 317 of the 534 yards the Saints had. Relying on these two young studs so heavily so early in the season will get them banged up. Mark Ingram can’t come back soon enough. Sure the records are nice, but if this team wants to keep these guys around long term, they’re going to have to spread the ball around more.

The Ugly

-PJ Williams gave up a 75-yard touchdown to Falcons rookie Calvin Ridley a few minutes before the half. He was badly beaten in man coverage deep, the same reason he started in place of Ken Crawley. Ridley burned the Saints for three touchdowns and 147 yards on seven catches.

-Speaking of Williams and Crawley, they’ve both been picked on this season, but so has defending defensive rookie of the year Marshon Lattimore. The Saints secondary was a strength last year and has been their biggest weakness thus far.

-11 penalties for 120 yards showed this team played with poor discipline. Perhaps none was more damming than David Onyemata’s penalty on the Falcons’ field goal attempt that gave them a first down. The Falcons flipped that into a touchdown and two-point conversion giving them a 37-30 lead.

Division rivalry games are always tough. Sometimes, they get a little personal. This rivalry gets very personal. The opposing fan bases get downright nasty with each other (shot out to the Facebook sports group “NFC SOUTH – FYT Trash Talk Petty 24/7”). I’m sure this win by the Saints will do absolutely nothing to change that. Although the Saints are 2-1, they have lots of issues to work out moving forward. They need to count their lucky stars they aren’t 0-3 right now.


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It's time for DeMeco and the Texans to draft and develop a quarterback. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Texans are poised to turn the franchise around. They have cap room and draft capital. This year and next year's drafts are two of the most important drafts in team history. No, you read that correctly. The only draft more important was the very first. These next two will fight over positions two and three on that list.

Quarterback is the most critical position on the field. When your team has a franchise guy at that position, things tend to fall into place much quicker. Winning is easier. Coaches and general managers keep their jobs when they win. When said QB is on a rookie deal for four to five years (depending on the fifth year option) and is good, the team has more cap flexibility to build around him.

All that being said, the rumors of the Texans doing anything other than selecting a QB in this draft and building around him are crazy. People are talking about all kinds of scenarios now that the combine is done and free agency is upon us. Having a social media account and an opinion seemingly makes people “experts” these days.

First off, the Jimmy Garoppolo rumors are not what's up. If they want to run a bridge QB out there that'll help guide the rookie, they can find a cheaper one. Jimmy G most likely wants a longer term deal with more security. The Texans would offer him some familiarity with the staff, but his time as the guy under center would be limited because of the rookie. Let's say he's interested in coming here on a one year prove-it deal. Let's say he's willing to help groom the rookie. What happens if the rookie is ready to go and Jimmy G has to take a seat? QB controversy is not what you want for a team rebuilding and trying to establish a new culture.

Secondly, taking a QB that requires more grooming, coaching, and time to grow will set this team back further. It'll also raise the questions of whether they took the wrong guy and if they should take a QB when next year's draft rolls around. Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud are deemed as the most ready. Will Levis and Anthony Richardson are seen as guys who are intriguing, but may need some work. Young has size/durability concerns. Stroud is seen as a pocket guy who can't make off schedule plays. Levis has a cannon, but turns the ball over and gets sacked too much. Richardson is a big freaky athlete with a booming arm, but it's more musket than sniper rifle. They all have flaws, but Young and Stroud are clearly the top two in my opinion. A team like this wants to win sooner rather than later. DeMeco Ryans doesn't strike me as a guy who'd come here to tank or even delay the winning process. Draft the guy who's most ready.

Last but not least, don't try to fix the defense at the expense of the offense. Especially at the expense of the main offensive piece you need moving forward. There are some defensive studs near the top of this draft. DeMeco is a defensive coach. Giving him weapons on his side of the ball would immediately correct some deficiencies and make this team more competitive. However, Davis Mills is NOT Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, hell, he's not even Rex Grossman at this point. All those guys rode great defenses to Super Bowls. A couple of them won it all. This team doesn't have a game manager type to get them where they need to be. The Jimmy G option might be intriguing if you believe this is the way to go. But this team has too many holes to fill in order to make a move like that. It isn't one this or that away from competing for a title. One of the reasons DeMeco was hired was his ability to get the most out of guys on defense and develop them. He's helped turn mid to low round picks into great players. Use the highest picks to retool the offense and allow DeMeco and his staff to work their magic on defense.

This is a tough decision to make, and it isn't. Two things can be true. The hardest part is not knowing what the Bears will do at number one. Once the Texans are on the clock, hopefully the toughest decision they have left is which QB to take. Get Young or Stroud at number two and roll on. If you want to trade back for more picks, use number 12 for that. Don't overthink this, Nick Caserio. Remember, your job is on the line, so draft/act accordingly.

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