The games have been similar each year. We open with an ugly game where one side of the ball just doesn’t show up well. This season, the offense wasn’t good in the opener against Tampa Bay, but a pick-six helped to buoy us to a win.
Last season, we had to kick a last-minute field goal to beat the Texans, and our defense was not good. And in 2018 it was a miserable defensive opening against Tampa Bay, allowing 48 points to “Fitzmagic”.
The second weeks haven’t been stellar either. In 2018, it was a last-minute FG to beat Cleveland, and last season it was a tough loss in Los Angeles in the game Drew Brees got injured.
Monday night’s debacle against the Las Vegas Raiders was to be expected in a sense, not only because it’s following history, but because of the circumstances.
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First, Sean Payton’s record against his friends isn’t very good. He is 2-3 against his buddy Mike Zimmer in Minnesota. He is now 3-4 against Jon Gruden, one of the guys who gave him a big break in the league.
Second, the Saints were without Michael Thomas, last season’s leading receiver in the NFL and Drew Brees’ personal security blanket. A high ankle sprain kept him out of the game.
It was obvious through the offensive tentativeness that Brees doesn’t have the same level of confidence in anyone else beyond Thomas.
Third, the penalties.
In week one of the season, officials ate a lot of whistles. It is thought that the league told officials to be more lenient with penalties, only call them when you know you’ve seen them since the officials too were a bit behind with no preseason work.
Referee Sean Hochuli and his crew decided one week was enough and they were ready to go full bore this week. The Saints were flagged 10 times for 129 yards Monday night. Hard for any team to overcome.
As well they were flagged for 119 yards in week one, so the preseason rust hasn’t come off the Saints yet. Many coaches will tell you that 100 yards in penalties is worth 7 points. If that’s the case, the Saints are short more than two scores already.