A win is a win, but there were too many hiccups to be totally satisfied with the outcome in Week 7. Despite some issues, Saints did come out on top 26-17.
A new life has come to fruition for the New Orleans Saints over the last 5 weeks. After abysmal performances in the first two weeks, the Saints have bounced back and climbed their way to the top of the NFC South. But there are still issues that need cleaning up.
There’s a lot to celebrate, but let’s take a step back for a second. The Saints struggled throughout most of Sunday’s victory over the Green Bay Packers. The team began trading field goals in the fourth quarter, keeping things tight. It was only until a late touchdown by Brandon Coleman when the Saints were able to pull away.
The Packers, of course, were without star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, after he broke his collarbone last week. Backup quarterback Brett Hundley had to fill in, much to the dismay of Saints fans. The team’s past experience with young quarterbacks with little to no tape put most in a fret.
Even though the Saints were able to overcome that very prediction coming to light, surprising problems occurred on both sides of the football.
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The Saints may be 3rd in the NFL in turnover margin (+5) so far this season, but Sunday wasn’t a day to celebrate turnovers. Drew Brees had 2 first half interceptions, and it wasn’t until later in the game for the Saints to pick off Hundley.
The turnovers stalled any momentum the Saints had early in the contest. Luckily, the Packers didn’t capitalize on either interception and they weren’t able to score any points on either ensuing drive. However, sloppy play could have warranted a much worse outcome.
The Packers weren’t able to score off of those turnovers, but running back Aaron Jones was able to run and score easily in the game. He gashed the Saints defense 2 minutes into the matchup on the Packers’ first drive for a 46-hard touchdown.
The middle of the Saints defense, especially linebacker A.J. Klein, got torched through most of the first half of the game. This lead to a change of defensive style and less aggressive play calling out of Dennis Allen. That yielded Hundley being able to do more with greater time in the pocket, leading to his early success.
All of that can be expected with a young defense. What wasn’t expected, however, was all of the points that were left off the scoreboard for the Saints. They traded field goals with Green Bay from the late third to early fourth quarters. Those drives could have resulted in touchdowns a few different times. That doesn’t include the red zone trip that resulted in the Saints kicking a 28-yard field goal, or the blocked extra point.
Added up, about 9 points were left on the field. Those point would have given us a victory in which a piece like this wouldn’t have had to be written.
Are they fixable?
To answer simply: absolutely. The problems weren’t anything to get too worried about. It was an away game at one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. New Orleans isn’t exactly known to dominate on the road, either, so everything should be taken with a grain of salt.
But, a more impressive win could have been attained. Less mistakes, more points, and greater execution is to be expected with this team. And that’s a great thing, because it shows the confidence one can have with this roster and coaching staff.
The team will come back home to face a dark horse playoff team in the Chicago Bears. Expect to see a more controlled and relaxed team for that game, as more variables will be in their favor.