Analyzing The Receivers
Against the Chiefs, the Saints were let down by their receivers, who couldn’t gain any separation whatsoever. However, without Michael Thomas or Tre’Quan Smith, that was to be expected.
Although they had a much easier test against a young Vikings secondary, it is encouraging that New Orleans’ receivers performed much better.
Emmanuel Sanders remains the big-play threat for this offense.
He averaged 20.8 yards/reception in this game, and his 9.6 yards/target would be his highest total since 2014. This is a very similar role to what he had after being traded to the 49ers last season; he is the team’s top option and is an all-around receiver who doesn’t commit many negative plays.
After him, the passing game revolves around the tight ends and running backs. Jared Cook has been extremely inconsistent this season, but he remains a big-play threat over the middle of the field, while rookie Adam Trautman has had a larger-than-expected role.
Meanwhile, Kamara and Latavius Murray had eight of the 21 available targets in this game. Without much receiver depth, New Orleans is utilizing a lot of two-receiver sets, which places more pressure on complementary players.
As for the team’s other receiving options, Marquez Callaway stands out.
The undrafted rookie free agent had three catches for 26 yards in his first game back from injured reserve, and he had a combined 12 catches for 109 yards in his two other games this season in which he played over half of the team’s snaps.
He is more of an intermediate threat, though, so I’d expect big-body threat Juwan Johnson, as well as slot receiver Austin Carr and running back Ty Montgomery, to get some reps in the passing game.
The X-factor here, outside of Thomas and Smith coming back, would be Deonte Harris. Right now, the Saints lack any sort of speed from their offense, so having someone to stress out defenses would be useful.
Still, it’s easy to be worried about their lack of receiving depth as they face better defenses.