While watching the first half of the New Orleans Saints game against the Indianapolis Colts, I couldn’t help but think “This is the team I’ve been waiting to see.” The offensive line not only was good at pass blocking, but also excelled in opening up holes for the ground attack. The defense causing turnovers and creating a pass rush is also what fans have been waiting for all year.
It really gives some much-needed hope to the Saints and their fans. There is plenty of time to get this season turned around to make a playoff push. Looking ahead at the Saints schedule, there is a lot of games they could pull off, especially if they keep playing like they did against the Colts. Some of the main reasons the Saints won the game was because first round picks stepped up their game. As bad as the New Orleans Saints have done in the last few drafts, there have been some great picks, especially in the first round.
Cameron Jordan, the 24th pick in the 2011 draft, has really stepped up his play the last few games, giving the New Orleans Saints a much needed pass rush that has been nonexistent. He’s racked up five sacks in the last two games with six on the season, which is tied for firth in the NFL. Jordan just seems like a completely different player these past two games with all the sacks, pressures, and knockdowns. If he keeps it up, expect the Saints’ secondary make more plays. Pressure disrupts quarterbacks, which ultimately leads to mistakes.
Next is Mark Ingram, who was selected four picks after Jordan in the 2011 draft. He is coming off his best rushing game this season with 14 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown. Ingram ran hard every time he got the ball, dragging defenders for multiple first downs on several plays. This past game in Indy, the line was blowing people up in the trenches, giving Ingram nice holes, which he took advantage of. If the Saints can keep the run game going, then that will open up the play action and big-play opportunities for Drew Brees.
This first round pick has been having a solid year, but hasn’t got the attention he deserves, and that would be Kenny Vaccaro. Besides last season’s debacle, the 15th pick in the 2013 draft has been one of the most consistent secondary players the Saints have had. He got his first sack last week on a blitz taking down Andrew Luck. Vaccaro has been all over the field this year with 44 tackles, good for second on the team. It’s safe to say that the aggressive hard-hitting safety the Saints saw in 2013 is back.
Brandin Cooks has yet to have that breakout game the Saints and their fans have been waiting for. The 20th pick in 2014 hasn’t been as productive as we all expected, with only 444 yards and one touchdown that came during garbage time against the Philadelphia Eagles. That can be partially blamed on an offensive line that is slowly but surely finding themselves. However, expect Cooks to have one of his best games this weekend against the New York Giants. The Giants defense is ranked 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed and will be without one of their best corners in Prince Amukamara. This Sunday would be the perfect time for Cooks to have a breakout game. He could help the Saints get back to a .500 record and closer to the playoff mix.
Last, but definitely not least is the 31st pick in this year’s draft, Stephone Anthony. This guy has been everything the New Orleans Saints were hoping for and more. He is all over the field and has been great at diagnosing plays before they happen. Leading the Saints in tackles and getting his first career interception are just a few highlights through just seven games in the league. He isn’t afraid to come up and stuff the run and has played well in coverage also. This guy is extremely intelligent and is remarkably athletic for his size. This young middle linebacker has so much potential and should be a staple in the Saints’ defense for years to come.
When looking back at the last six years of draft picks, there has been a mass amount of misses by the New Orleans Saints. They must continue to get better when it comes to the draft, but all these first round picks have potential, talent, and are still very young. The future looks bright in New Orleans. But for now, their next test comes Sunday against the New York Giants.