The NOLA Saints had a difficult task on Monday Night Football against the Miami Dolphins with so many key players out due to testing positive for COVID-19. The biggest storyline surrounding this game was that Ian Book would be making the first start of his career due to Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian both landing on the COVID list.
Why don’t we start with Book in our weekly takeaways article?
Book’s first start
This was not a great gauge as far as what kind of player Ian Book can be because… Well, let’s face it. He’s a fourth-string quarterback and the team was short-handed in this one. The offensive line was held together by duct tape and it showed, as Book was sacked eight times.
That made it difficult for the Notre Dame rookie to get much done in his first-ever start. Book handed off to Alvin Kamara on his first-ever snap, then completed his first NFL pass, and was then promptly picked off by the Dolphins defense and the pass was returned for a touchdown. Just an abysmal start for the Saints rookie.
Don’t look too much into Book’s numbers from this one. It wasn’t a good game for him but the odds were stacked against him. “Ian Book was not going to be evaluated on this game alone” was said by the Monday Night Football crew and they’re absolutely right. Don’t judge him solely off of this performance because a lot was going against him.
Book finished the night completing 12-of-20 passes for 135 yards and two interceptions. It was a bad debut and he did make poor decisions but it wasn’t all on the rookie’s shoulders. I’d like to see what the kid can do with a better o-line protecting him.
Defense did everything they could
Despite not having Kwon Alexander and Demario Davis available due to those guys landing on the COVID list, the Saints’ defense balled out as much as they could. Guys like Zack Baun had to step up and well… Baun isn’t anywhere close to being on Alexander or Davis’ level.
The defense couldn’t help that Book threw a pick-six on his second-ever NFL pass. They held the Dolphins’ offense to a field goal in the first half and it wasn’t until the third quarter that they allowed the Miami offense to get into the end zone. Allowing teams to get into the end zone hadn’t been a common occurrence for the NOLA D.
Once again, the defense was tasked with playing a near-perfect game and their few slip-ups were critical, as unfair as that may be.
Run game not utilized enough
The Saints are fortunate to have not just one but two solid running backs on their offense. Even with that being the case, New Orleans didn’t run the ball much at all. Perhaps that was because Miami was smart and stacked the box to force Book to throw or maybe it was because the team fell behind and had to throw to keep up.
Either way, it felt like the two running backs could have had more opportunities to get something cooking. All it could have taken in this one was one big run or two to make things interesting again.
Alvin Kamara ended the game with just 52 rushing yards off 13 carries while Mark Ingram had just 17 rushing yards off of four carries. Had the offensive line not been a patchwork unit, maybe the run game could have helped Book out but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
This was an ugly loss for New Orleans but it was going to take a lot for them to pull out a victory in this one considering all of the players they had on the COVID list. Book did what he could, as did the defense, but this just wasn’t a game the Saints were destined to win.