The New Orleans Saints‘ problems that riddled the beginning of their season resurfaced during Sunday’s home loss to the Tennessee Titans. It was almost like their three-straight wins, which got the team back to an even .500 record before yesterday, was nothing but a tease.
It seems the issues along both the offensive and defensive lines are back and maybe worse than ever. To validate my point, the Saints didn’t sack Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota one time. The obvious and concerning lack of pressure led to a ton of time for him to find the open man and make big plays down the field.
Mariota finished the day 28 of 39 for 371 yards and four touchdowns. New Orleans allowed another rookie quarterback to have a huge game. In fact, it was Mariota’s best outing of the season. Tennessee had the No. 31 overall (second to last) offense heading into Sunday.
On the offensive side of the ball, things started off great in the first half. The New Orleans Saints looked like they were on their way to a blowout performance after putting up two touchdowns in the first quarter. But what seemed like total disconnect on the line led to Drew Brees getting sacked four times and coughing up an interception.
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Most of the struggles came after a 61-yard first quarter touchdown pass from Mariota to Titans tight end Delanie Walker. It was beautiful defense by both cornerback Keenan Lewis and safety Jairus Byrd, but a collision between the two turned the play from a potential interception into an unfortunate bounce that led to the Walker catch and score. Even though the Saints were still ahead, that play seemed like a momentum killer that they were never able to rebound from.
Of course, one play cannot be blamed for a complete meltdown. After a surging start Sunday by both the offense and defense, the New Orleans Saints flat out played poorly. They looked like the same 1-4 team from several weeks ago.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, success in football starts in the trenches. No blocking (run or pass) from the offense and no pass rush from the defense lost the game, and it’s why the Saints were unsuccessful in those first four losses.
There were more issues than the poor effort along the offensive and defensive lines (blown coverages, penalties, etc), but just like success, failure begins up front as well. Was the loss to Tennessee a dose of reality? Were those three-consecutive victories just a tease to fans? Are they who we thought they were?
After Sunday’s second half disaster and giving up a total of 83 points in the past two contests, there are a number of questions surrounding this organization. The season is obviously not over, and it’s also not time to panic. But things must get fixed and must get fixed fast if the New Orleans Saints want any shot at making the playoffs this year. Sean Payton and company travel to our nation’s capital next to take on the Washington Redskins in a very winnable game.