Sep 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns defeated the Saints 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Saints took a major step backwards with their loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The Saints were defeated 38-17, and were embarrassed on the national stage, trailing 31-3 in the fourth quarter. As we attempt to put this horrible loss past us, our focus turns to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are also 1-3 like New Orleans.
Impact players are those who have an influence or effect on the outcome of a game, both positively or negatively. For the Saints, I have selected five impact players who can rapidly dictate how the team fares.
Cameron Jordan is one of many defensive players that must get things going for the Saints’ defense. Specifically, we need Jordan in the pass rushing department. Jordan has three career sacks against the Bucs in six games. The pass rush has been fairly ineffective, as the team has five sacks to show through four games. If there’s ever a game for Jordan to wreak havoc, it’s this one against Mike Glennon.
It’s time to see a huge game from Brandin Cooks. He’s been a great addition for the Saints this season, and has been targeted at least six times in each game this year. With Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills, and Marques Colston likely drawing the majority of Drew Brees targets on the day, Cooks has the ability to make explosive plays. My bet is that he’ll see his first 100-yard game for the black and gold.
Corey White, along with Brian Dixon, was victimized last week in pass coverage. It was Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams who picked on the young Saints’ corners, finishing with six catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns. White will likely be tasked with defending against rookie Mike Evans, which could spell nightmares for the Saints secondary (see the height advantage). Keenan Lewis is likely to pair up with Vincent Jackson, and we’d assume Lewis would continue to hold his own. Needless to say, White needs safety help, or it will be a long day.
The last thing we needed to see from the New Orleans Saints was a missed field goal, and Shayne Graham did that last week. Graham missed from 41 yards out, and it just looked ugly. I don’t have to sit here and preach on the importance of points in the NFL, but we’re just hoping this was a blip on the radar. If not, then we’ve got bigger issues on our hands. Just remember this, the Saints needed Graham the last time they played in the Superdome to beat the Vikings.
Pierre Thomas touched the ball a whopping five times last week in the Saints loss. That’s not right. Thomas is a huge asset to the Saints in both rushing and receiving, and has five total touchdowns (4 rush, 1 receiving) in ten games against Tampa Bay. Thomas exhibits much versatility, and could replicate the success of Le’Veon Bell from a week ago. Bell didn’t flash in the rushing department, but caught six passes for 46 yards last week for the Steelers.
Who do you think is poised to be an impact player on Sunday? Sound off below!