Good and Bad: Receiving Production
With Michael Thomas out of the lineup, and now Smith dealing with an injury, the Saints are suddenly incredibly thin at receiver.
Outside of the usual suspects in the passing game, Brees targeted the following receivers in this game: Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Tommylee Lewis, and Juwan Johnson. Together, the three of them had a combined 21 receiving yards. That is far from ideal.
Even more worrisome is the lack of separation they provide. Sure, Lewis is a quicker receiver with some big-play ability, but Humphrey and Johnson are bigger-bodied targets. The offense is already one that doesn’t have much explosion, and having to rely on more contested-catch artists won’t help.
This was another game in which tight end Jared Cook and Brees struggled to get on the same page. Cook now hasn’t eclipsed 40 receiving yards in a game since Week 8, is dropping more passes than normal (58.8%), and simply hasn’t been a factor in the passing game (2.3 receptions/game) this season.
Particularly with them struggling with receiver injuries, it will be interesting to see if third-round rookie Adam Trautman gets more playing time. Heck, even Alvin Kamara didn’t produce to his normal standard with Brees, accumulating just 40 receiving yards and three receptions.
Yet, there is one bright spot! That would be Emmanuel Sanders, who may have to be the saving grace for this passing offense with Thomas injured. Brees targeted him five times, which turned into 76 receiving yards, including a 51-yard reception.
With 19 yards/reception, he is the team’s only semblance of a big-play threat in the passing game this season, and it sure looks like New Orleans will need to rely on him more down the stretch. In fact, I wouldn’t mind him receiving a target share similarly to what Thomas has received in the past- they are that thin on offensive playmakers currently.