On Sunday, New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston outplayed New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, but somehow Jones ended up on top.
This was Winston’s first game with New Orleans where he recorded more than 200 passing yards: he finished 17-of-23 for 226 yards and one touchdown, and he actually looked good.
Until Sean Payton decided to take control of the game himself, effectively cutting Winston’s legs out from under him.
While Payton and Winston wrestle with their ego complexes, the players on the defensive side of the ball have a bit of their own self-reflection to do.
Just one week after PFF gave four Saints’ defenders the highest grades on the team, the Saints defense had a performance like that making the very un-special Daniel Jones look….special.
Giants’ sites across the internet are lauding Jones’ “coming-of-age” game in which the amateur becomes the pro, but we think Jones’ performance is less due to his own skillset than it is due to the Saints finally finding bullet-sized holes in their defensive system.
Heading into Week 4, the Saints defense had not given up a play longer than 32 yards.
Against the Giants, the Saints allowed two 50-plus yard passing plays, both of which resulted in scores and kept New York in the game. Jones was bright enough to use the momentum and lead a game-tying drive at the end of the fourth quarter, but the Giants’ quarterback isn’t dominant enough to generate that kind of tide-turning himself. The Saints helped him do it.
New Orleans Saints defense shot themselves in the foot vs. Giants
Where was the Saints defense that picked that other younger, baby-faced Jones three times in Week 3 against the Patriots? The Saints only got one interception this game, and only because Daniel Jones hail-married the ball downfield.
No one shined. No one had a good game.
Malcolm Jenkins led the team in tackles with 12 combined and rookie Payton Turner added a pair of quarterback hits that at least gave Jones a little trouble. Those performances warrant just a polite golf-clap, not raucous encore-desiring applause.
The usual suspects — Cameron Jordan, Marshon Lattimore, Demario Davis — played average or below average games in their respective positions as the defensive unit as a whole allowed the Giants to gain 485 yards. This is the Giants’ offense we’re talking about, not the Chiefs or the Chargers. The Giants.
New Orleans’ linemen may not have been ready for Saquon Barkley’s comeback and their secondary may not have expected Kenny Golladay’s 116-yard haul, but they should have played better. They can play better.
This game wasn’t nearly as close as, say, the Titans and Jets matchup that same day, but now New Orleans at least knows their defense isn’t invincible. After three solid performances, the Saints defense simply gave up too many big plays and dug themselves into this hole.
Perhaps this game was out of the Saints’ hands from the beginning, as the fickle football gods decreed that two of the worst teams in the NFL shall emerge victorious on that Sunday. But the Saints lost on defense, and not by some superhuman effort from Daniel Jones. Get that record straight.