The Saints — who led by 11 points with a little over nine minutes to go — were unable to close out the game on offense and couldn’t get a stop when it mattered most on defense, even with two of the Giants’ top wide receivers out due to injury.
It was an extremely disappointing performance all around that will leave a bad taste in Saints fans’ mouths until the next game. It still felt like a huge struggle for the offense to move the ball efficiently most of the game, which is understandable to a certain degree with so many players still missing from the starting lineup.
However, it seems like Payton is focusing his offensive scheme on not making mistakes rather than trying to score at will. Now I’m not saying this doesn’t make sense, especially with four of your top offensive players out due to injury.
The strategy of taking an early lead, leaning heavily on a defense that has looked downright elite at times to hold that lead, while protecting the ball the rest of the way is a solid game plan but it can only work if your defense plays close to flawless football.
We can all agree that the defense is and most likely always will be the strength of this year’s team. The margin of error with how the offense has been playing the past three weeks is incredibly small and unfair. The unit has looked great for the better part of the season, even with a decimated defensive front and other key playmakers missing.
Although not anywhere close to the dominance we saw in New England, the defense was definitely good enough to win with only 21 points given up at the end of regulation. What killed the Saints the most were the two big touchdown plays given up of 50+ yards each, along with the overtime meltdown that sealed the deal for New Orleans. Paulson Adebo had the worst game of his young career by far as the Giants seemingly picked on him all game long and didn’t relent.
Adebo had been playing extremely well up until this point so I’m not sure I’m ready to write off the rookie and give the starting job away to Bradley Roby just yet. This was clearly a game where his inexperience showed, but the bigger concern right now is the nonexistent pass rush.
Daniel Jones had all day to throw in the pocket and the Saints didn’t record a sack for the first time all season. To say this defense misses Marcus Davenport, David Onyemata, and Kwon Alexander would be a huge understatement.
While it’s clear the defense didn’t have its best day, I’m still not sure why Sean Payton went ahead with his conservative game plan anyway instead of stepping on the Giants’ neck in the fourth quarter.
After the defense forced a punt with just over nine minutes to play, leading by 11 points, I expected the Saints to be aggressive and put the game away all while taking some time off the clock. After all, the offense just started to get going scoring touchdowns on three of their last four drives. What we got instead was nothing but three straight running plays and a punt that swung the momentum to New York. The rest is history.
I understand the concern of Jameis Winston’s ability to protect the football after his 30 interception season just a few years ago. However, the quarterback has looked very good so far this season and seems to be getting more comfortable in the Saints system each week.
He completed 17 of 23 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown against the Giants and would have most likely thrown for a lot more if given the opportunity. Winston has been making smart decisions, has a cannon for an arm, and only has two turnovers so far this year. Yet it still looks like Payton has no trust in him whatsoever and is holding him back from taking control of the offense.
Could it be because of the lack of weapons and injury-riddled offensive line? I’m sure that has a lot to do with it, but Winston deserves a little more credit for his solid start to the season and should be let loose a little more during close games like this. There was absolutely no reason why the Saints should have lost this game and I put the blame solely on the shoulders of Sean Payton.
As I’ve said before, I believe the Saints will be in great shape if they’re above .500 when the bye week comes around. The upcoming road trip against the Washington Football Team is the closest thing to a must-win game this early in the season.
After a big-time disappointing loss to the Giants, the Saints cannot afford to lose to teams they’re flat out better than, especially with so many starters out. With star-studded reinforcements on the way after the bye, New Orleans will look to put themselves in a very favorable position to make a playoff push throughout the rest of the season if they can come out of DC with a W.