Bye week blues for the New Orleans Saints
By Ty Anania
It’s my least favorite week of the year. But for the Saints, it couldn’t come at a better time.
I know, it’s hard for the fans. There will be no Saints football this Sunday. It’s week five and the Saints are already on their bye.
Typically teams see these early byes as dreadful. You really want your week off to come towards the latter half of the season, playoff teams especially. The later the bye week, the more rested your team is for the postseason.
Now, chances are the Saints aren’t headed to the playoffs. But it’s not impossible. And this year, our week five bye is actually looking like a blessing.
The most important thing that happens over the bye week is players get a chance to rest. This can mean a world of difference for injured players. Obviously, for players with injuries like Delvin Breaux or Sheldon Rankins, there isn’t much change in routine. During the bye week, much like during a game week they’ll be going through rehab. The week off is the most significant for players like Dannell Ellerbe and Terron Armstead, who won’t be asked to participate in any practices. Both will be able to rest and recover.
This means that a slew of Saints players, including Senio Kelemete, Josh Hill, Kenny Vaccaro, and Willie Snead, should be able to return to somewhere closer to full health before our next game.
Healthy returns of Vaccaro, Ellerbe, Armstead, and Snead would obviously be huge for this team. But don’t undervalue the potential return of Josh Hill. Sean Payton loves to operate out of multiple tight end sets, and after Michael Hoomanawanui went to injured resrve, the team has been desperately thin at the position. While Josh Hill has consistently failed to live up to the lofty expectations set by his fellow tight ends, his presence on the field should open up the offense.
Meanwhile, Dannell Ellerbe has yet to play in the regular season. The linebacker core is already improved over last year, and Ellerbe’s return should strengthen it further. Look for him to possibly start alongside Craig Robertson, who’s played well in his absence.
Another important thing that happens during the bye week is teams get a chance to self-evaluate. To be clear, this is going on week to week throughout the season, but during the bye week teams do not have to split time evaluating themselves and their next opponents.
Look for the Saints to make some adjustments in what they are doing, and who they’re asking to do it for the next three quarters of the season.