NFL Power Rankings: New Orleans Saints sit at No. 31, but a rise may be on the way

4 of 4

Sep 20, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterbacks Drew Brees (9) and Luke McCown (7) on the bench in the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won, 23-19.Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)

"Perhaps Jameis Winston was too happy-go-lucky about facing J.J. Watt — or anybody on theTexans‘ defense, for that matter. Third down, where aspiring young quarterbacks often go to die, was indeed the grim reaper for the Bucs’ green signal caller on Sunday. Although he took no sacks, he didn’t exactly do any damage, either. Tampa was a pitiful 1-for-12 on third down in Houston — as big a reason as any why they flew home at 1-2."


"Say what you will about Luke McCown, but the dude went out and competed Sunday at Carolina. McCown completed 31 of his 38 passes, with one interception that was more incredible play by the defense than errant throw by the offense. The Saints‘ backup quarterback converted some big third downs while looking the part of a starter. Ultimately, the defense doomed New Orleans — you must be completely floored by that development, huh?"

32. Chicago Bears (0-3)

"The only interesting aspect of the Bears’ performance in Seattle was just how stunningly futile they really were. Everyone knew Jimmy Clausen was starting, Kam Chancellor was back, and that this contest was the easiest to prognosticate on the weekend slate. But 146 yards. Really? 146 freakin’ yards? That’s it? Chicago managed 48 net yards passing. That wasn’t even good in 1935, much less now. Feeling comfortable about keeping the Bears at this spot in the rankings.Real. Comfortable. (Jeans.)"

My diagnosis on your No. 31 New Orleans Saints:

In reality, NFL Power Rankings are nothing more than an opinionated list.  Is it really fair to have the New Orleans Saints at No. 31?  Absolutely — they even sit dead last in the FanSided Power Rankings. This is a bad team at the moment, and while the future may be bright with the emergence of some young talent, the Black and Gold can’t seem to find any sort of consistency with their game plan on a week-to-week basis so far in 2015.

Drew Brees is one of several players sidelined with an injury (see also Keenan Lewis, Jairus Byrd, Dannell Ellerbe), but they are expected back soon, and even this week, perhaps.  Although, let’s not get hopes up about Jairus Byrd, who has been nothing more than a huge miss in the free agent market after signing more than a year ago.  The Saints are unhealthy, so there should still be a little sense of hope for when these KEY players do return to action.

Injuries aside, this team still has problems.  A porous defensive front, particular on the line in the trenches doesn’t help.  No pass rush is giving opposing quarterbacks all the time in the world to make reads and pick apart the secondary.  The only bright spots in that front 7 are Cam Jordan (not an elite pass rusher, but an every-down end) and two rookies — MLB Stephone Anthony (still working out the kinks) and OLB Hau’oli Kikaha (leads team in sacks with two and forced fumbles with two there as well).

The secondary is coming around, and that’s without star corner Keenan Lewis and safety Jairus Byrd.  Good news is the rookies (Delvin Breaux and Damian Swann) have been pleasant surprises.  Free agent acquisition Brandon Browner is struggling to the extreme, however, the way he’s being utilized so far in zone coverage and matching up with smaller, speedier receivers does not fit his style — that’s on the coaching.  Things should change once Lewis returns.

As for the offense, it finally looked good this past Sunday thanks to repairs in the play-calling department, and Drew Brees didn’t even play.  If Sean Payton can stick to that blueprint, wins will come, but issues along the offensive line (excluding C Max Unger and LT Terron Armstead) need to be fixed, otherwise the ground attack will continue to struggle, and the quarterback (whomever it may be) will continue having problems finding the open man in a receiving corps that has turned out to be not so good (especially with the Marques Cotlston decline) through the first three games.  However, Brandin Cooks was finally utilized the proper way as a receiver in the short game.  Cooks and Willie Snead must continue to be fed the ball.  And with a healthy C.J. Spiller back on the field, he must be used more to give this offense a spark.

But overall, the problem is that this team lacks playmakers on both sides of the ball.  However, there are potential playmakers — we’ve just yet to see anything out of them.  There is talent emerging, so not all hope is lost.  There are 13 games left in this young season.  For now, as far as NFL Power Rankings, the New Orleans Saints are exactly where they should be.  But let’s wait to see if Sean Payton and company can finally find that consistency in their game planning.  And let’s hold off on making a final judgement until after we see what this team can do when KEY (can’t stress “key” enough) players finally return to action down on the bayou.

The New Orleans Saints next host the Dallas Cowboys in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  Can the Black and Gold end their troubles at home while also snapping the Cowboys’ ten-game win streak on the road?  We’ll find out in primetime style Sunday night.

Next: Saints are struggling, but final judgement should wait