Saints have big decisions to make when Keenan Lewis returns
Keenan Lewis, who was on a 4-6 week timetable after reportedly undergoing hip surgery, remained inactive for the Week 3 contest versus the Carolina Panthers.
A limited participant at practice last week, the New Orleans Saints‘ star cornerback is expected back in time for Sunday Night Football in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome when the Black and Gold host the Dallas Cowboys in six days.
Upon his return, the Saints have some serious thinking to do in regards to their secondary — a unit filled with highs and lows. Highs being rookies Delvin Breaux and Damian Swann, and lows being Brandon Browner, whose struggles could be reflecting off mismatches and mistakes made by coaching.
Regardless, both Breaux and Swann have been playing well, and did so again on Sunday. It’s expected that when Keenan Lewis does return, he’ll be back at his spot as the No. 1 cornerback with Browner on the other side.
But is that the way to go? Both Swann and Breaux (if you throw last week’s whatever you call it mistake where he lost the ball in the air versus Tampa Bay out of the window) have been handling their business, and in impressive manner.
While the right choice may seem to be giving the veteran Browner the upper hand due to his experience, in reality, is decreasing the playing time of Swann and Breaux best for this struggling Saints team? If that is the case, we’ll see both Swann and Breaux involved in nickel packages, and occasionally on the outside when Keenan Lewis and Browner need a break.
But the Saints may be better off starting one of the rookies opposite Lewis. Swann seems to be knocking balls loose for incomplete passes every other play, while Breaux is like glue, rarely letting his man gain a step. From a physicality standpoint, the rookies seem to be doing it just as well as Browner, while also adjusting to the laws of the NFL better and better each week.
Unfortunately, Browner seems to get worse and worse each week. I’m not sure if it’s a talent issue, if it’s a scheming issue, or if Rob Ryan, Dennis Allen and company are having issues finding the mismatch. I will tell you this — Browner (6-foot-4, 221 pounds) should not be covering small, quick, shifty receivers.
Whatever the coaches decide (and hopefully Sean Payton realizes the situation), we’ll have to assume it’s the right choice. After all, they are the coaches. Yet, extending the roles of the hotter hands (Breaux and Swann) should strongly be considered when Keenan Lewis does return, which could be this week. It’s hard to argue against the fact that New Orleans has some young talent in that unit.