Emmanuel Sanders could be the missing piece for another New Orleans Saints Super Bowl run.
Over the past two seasons, the New Orleans Saints have struggled to find reliable wide receivers opposite of Michael Thomas. It’s no secret this has been the most glaring weakness on offense, and it came as a surprise to many fans that the problem wasn’t addressed in last year’s offseason.
Nonetheless, the Saints finally added a proven veteran wide receiver in Emmanuel Sanders to help extend the field and give Drew Brees another playmaker.
I believe this move really puts the Saints over the top and gives them their most complete offense in a long time.
In the past two seasons, the wide receiver play outside of Michael Thomas has been extremely subpar.
In 2018, Thomas accounted for 125 receptions for 1,405 yards and 9 touchdowns. The drop off in production is quite significant, with all six other wide receivers combined catching 79 passes for 1,116 yards and 13 touchdowns.
In 2019, Thomas was even better, catching a record-setting 149 passes for 1,725 yards and 9 touchdowns in what was a historic season.
His supporting cast?
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Even worse, combining for 56 receptions for 692 yards and 7 touchdowns. Granted, the Saints did sign Jared Cook who really excelled in the offense, catching 43 passes for 705 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Regardless, to have that sort of production from your wide receivers outside of Thomas is just flat out baffling.
If the Saints had signed or drafted a legit number two wide receiver in the past two years, I truly think they would have at least one more Super Bowl ring.
There is no better example than these last two seasons, where at one point, Drew Brees was forced to throw touchdown passes to four undrafted players. The lack of a consistent deep threat player who can really open the offense has killed the Saints, especially in this year’s Wild Card loss to the Vikings.
Outside of Michael Thomas, who had 7 catches for 70 yards, every wide receiver was a nonfactor. The only other player worth mentioning was Deonte Harris, who caught a 50-yard pass from Taysom Hill on a trick play.
Although the offensive line played probably its worst game as a whole, the lack of speed on the field was a big factor. You saw the difference when Taysom Hill came into the game, bulldozing and running past Vikings players without even breaking a sweat.
With the decline of Ted Ginn Jr. and the inconsistency of Tre’Quan Smith, the Saints had to make a move to fill this clear and obvious hole on the roster. They couldn’t afford to rely on inconsistent and unproven players with Drew Brees’ retirement lurking around the corner.
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Emmanuel Sanders is the absolute perfect fit for Sean Payton’s system and I’m really excited to see him open up the passing game. Sanders finished last season with 66 receptions for 869 yards and 5 touchdowns.
To put this into perspective, those numbers are more than double in every major statistic compared to Saints former number two wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., who had 30 receptions for 421 yards and 2 touchdowns.
His 4.4 speed can help take the top off any defense, even at 33 years old, giving Brees another weapon in an already stacked offense. Could you imagine what it would have been like having a player like Sanders opposite of Michael Thomas in the 2018 and 2019 seasons?
The difference could have been incredible. That’s why I strongly believe that as long as Brees can produce one more solid season, the Saints will have a serious shot at bringing home a second Lombardi trophy.
In an offense consisting of Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Alvin Kamara, Jared Cook, and Taysom Hill, the sky’s the limit to where this team can go.