Saints fans everywhere are writing off the season after a week 1 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. But is it really worth cracking out the old paper-bags and anointing the 2017 squad as the new Aints?
Sure, it was an ugly game on Monday Night Football against the Vikings. Sure, Sam Bradford had a career night at the expense of our secondary. And sure, AD was out-rushed by his replacement by a full 109 yards.
But none of that should matter.
Now that ample time has passed, it’s important that we take an objective look at how our 2017 Saints fared in their first outing.
The only genuine concern in this game was the Saints’ miscues.
Red-zone mistakes on offense and busted coverages on defense are what lost us this game, and both of those things are mendable.
The Saints offense looked out of sorts for a large part of this game. Panic seemed to set in when it looked like our ‘swiss-cheese’ O-line wasn’t holding up.
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But keep in mind, this was an O-line with rookie tackle Ryan Ramzcyk in place of pro-bowl caliber Left Tackle Terron Armstead.
The team also later lost their anchor at RT, Zach Strief.
And that inexperienced, depleted O-line was up against one of the most athletic defensive front-sevens in the league.
Minnesota ranked 3rd in overall defense in 2016, and 6th in points allowed. This year they added LBs Elijah Lee and Ben Gedeon, and DT Jaleel Johnson through the draft. Not to mention the addition of DE Datone Jones through free agency.
All that defensive firepower… and the Saints dysfunctional offense and patchwork O-line made it into their red zone on 5 out of their 8 drives.
Seems okay to me.
On defense, most of the snaps were played by rookies or sophomore players.
Rookie DBs Marcus Williams and Marshon Lattimore got the most work of the young guys, seeing 100% and 94% of the defensive snaps respectively. Rookie LB Alex Anzalone saw 74% of the snaps.
The second-year DT tandem of Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata combined to see a shade under 70% of the snaps.
On top of that, cornerback PJ Williams was playing just his 3rd game of professional football, and accounted for 100% of the defensive snaps on Monday night.
This young group was blooded against what is becoming a multi-faceted model of offensive efficiency in Minnesota.
Sam Bradford, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph and budding star Dalvin Cook; The Vikings offense is pick-your-poison type stuff right now. It’s enough to give even a good defense fits.
It’s also worth noting that while Dalvin Cook was the story of the night, if you took away his two big 4th quarter runs he would only have had 62 yards on 20 carries (3.1 ypc).
Some growing pains are expected from this nascent Saints defense, and on Monday night the Vikings capitalized on every one.
As the season rolls on, the costly miscues will decrease and the turnovers (of which the Saints had two AMAZING chances at against the Vikings) will come.
This team will be okay, Saints fans.