I think I speak for everyone when I say that no one saw the New Orleans Saints’ 38-3 resounding triumph over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers coming.
Jameis Winston tossing five touchdowns? The defense holding the Packers’ explosive offense to a mere three points? Maybe in a fantasy world.
Here we are, though, and the Saints have shown their resilience in a time of crisis once again. That’s the kind of intangible that make up the best NFL teams over the season.
And we can continue talking about Winston or the defense from Sunday’s blowout contest, but what we should really be talking about is the Saints’ uncanny knack for player development.
The Saints are very good at drafting and developing their own players, which can lead to long term success
What Albert said, and I’ll add undrafted players as a corollary to the point.
You don’t have to look much further than Paulson Adebo‘s first career interception of Aaron Rodgers in the red zone to realize how good the Saints have been at drafting and hitting on those picks.
Adebo was a 2021 third-round pick and immediately made a contribution in his first regular season game. With the team lacking at cornerback outside the newly extended Marshon Lattimore, Adebo’s presence could be huge.
Then there’s Juwan Johnson, the former Penn State and Oregon UDFA. who caught three passes for 21 yards and two touchdowns to lead all Saints receivers on Sunday. Let’s remember this team is without Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith and whose top receiver on the depth chart is Marquez Callaway. Ditto Adam Trautman but for the tight ends.
So yeah, why not turn Juwan Johnson into prime Jimmy Graham and make him a big red-zone threat?
Even Tony Jones Jr., the backup to Alvin Kamara, had 50 yards rushing on 11 carries, good for 4.5 yards per carry.
The Saints are really a player development haven. With so many unheralded contributors stepping up and making plays, it should be this element of the organization that gets more credit than they do.
Of course, when you have stars like Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Cam Jordan, Demario Davis and Marshon Lattimore (all but Davis drafted and developed by the Saints!) and just a good roster in general, it’s easy to overlook player development. But it’s time to start recognizing the Saints’ ability to win the personnel game. It’s arguably the biggest reason why they were even able to have the kind of on-field success they had Sunday.