A look at the New Orleans Saints Week 2 matchup with the Cleveland Browns from inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, from the cheap seats.
Any win is a good win, right? Even if you are outplayed some and you have no business winning the game? The NFL is a bottom line business, and wins are the bottom line. Granted, playing as poorly as the New Orleans Saints did in week one and for much of Week 2, there wouldn’t be many wins. But the bottom line is regardless how it looked, when the season is over, all anyone will recognize is a W for this week.
For a second week, the Saints played like this was a preseason game. A good many NFL teams play “into form” in their first couple of regular season games. It’s not as though the games don’t matter – they absolutely do. But it seems that the first week or two of the season are just to prepare for the other 15 weeks.
That is how the Saints have come out for the first two games of this season (and last year for that matter, as well). The offense continues to sputter behind the lack of a running game. The line has been beaten largely and our receiving corps that was supposed to be very deep has turned back into the Michael Thomas show.
Defensively, the Saints have not improved on what was a very solid unit last season. The guys up front have been handled readily. We knew we probably still had question marks at linebacker and we do. What has been most disappointing is the play of our corners. Ken Crawley and Marshon Lattimore have been victimized regularly in the first two games. Crawley seemed to play better this week, then gave up the biggest play of the game. Some of that of course is due to the total lack of pass rush we’ve gotten from any of our guys up front so far this year.
Suffice it to say the Saints are VERY lucky to have a 1-1 record at this point. Were it not for an inept kicker on Cleveland’s side, this game would have gone differently. And how embarrassing would it be for a team projected as a Super Bowl contender to give Cleveland their first win since a 3-point victory on Christmas Eve of 2016.
As we were saying last year at this time, this Saints team isn’t very good. The story is the same. Poor defense and questionable offense. The musical chairs of the running back situation prior to the first game lead us to believe there was little confidence in anyone toting the rock in the absence of Mark Ingram. Whether that’s due to the line or Ingram’s ability is anyone’s guess, but he is currently missed.
But the Saints are falling apart in places they had not before. Max Unger was victimized Sunday for two sacks. Unger is regularly seen as one of the league’s top centers. The defensive backs last season were among the league’s best. Two weeks ago, they gave up 417 passing yards to the backup QB from our division’s worst team last year. And this week, while they didn’t give up big passing yards, they gave up critical plays.
The golden lining to this is that this was the time last year when the Saints turned things around. Last year in Week 3, they embarked on an eight-game winning streak, en route to an 11-5 finish. Let’s hope this year has a similar pattern.