Good and Bad: Getting In Their Own Way
Raise your hand if you have heard this before: the Saints hurt themselves in a game.
If your hand isn’t raised, I would be shocked. New Orleans has ranked in the top-ten in penalties per game in each of the past two seasons, and it once again came back to bite them on Sunday.
Overall, they were penalized ten times for 93 yards. Kansas City, meanwhile, was penalized for half of that. When you’re playing the Chiefs, you can’t make life easier for them.
That isn’t all that happened, however. Star edge rusher Cameron Jordan was ejected in this game.
Additionally, the Saints went 1-11 on third downs, possessed the ball for less than half the time Kansas City did, and gave the Chiefs five first downs due to penalty. It was an overall sloppy performance, which is something they cannot afford.
After all, this is a team built on efficiency and cohesion, as evidenced from their performances against the Bucs this season. In fact, their struggles this season can largely be tied to them losing that identity- they were extremely penalized early in the season.
At the same time, penalties, time of possession, and third-down success rate are all unstable metrics.
We have seen how dominant the Saints can be when they are on the right side of variance, and when they fail to recover a fumble in the opposing team’s end zone, it is clear variance was not on their side.
These types of games happen, and as long as they don’t consistently happen, they are in good shape. Better stick in management and improved discipline will be a minor factor to keep an eye on as they maneuver injuries down the stretch.