The New Orleans Saints narrowly missed the playoffs last season. What can they do to get back to the postseason in 2022?
The New Orleans Saints have been among the best NFL football teams over the past five seasons. In that span, only the Kansas City Chiefs have more regular-season wins but 2021 was a bit of an adverse year for the black and gold.
At the start of the season, the team became displaced due to Hurricane Ida then the injuries started to pile up. Key players like running back Alvin Kamara and Ryan Ramczyk missed several games. Starting quarterback Jameis Winston was lost for the season due to a torn ACL, and Michael Thomas was still not ready to play after a severe ankle injury he suffered in 2020.
The Saints had a total of 57 lineup changes in 2021 but this year, the Saints have pressed to reset button. Sean Payton stepped down as the head coach, and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen was hired as his replacement.
The roster has gotten a bit of an overhaul as well. With the addition of Tyrann Matthieu, Jarvis Landry, and the return of Michael Thomas, NOLA is starting to look like a playoff team but there are some issues the team needs to address.
Those issues could decide if the Saints are legit contenders or just a team that looks good on paper. Here are three things the Saints must do to make the playoffs in 2022.
3. Fix the issues on the offensive line
In 2021, the Saints’ offensive line was considered one of the best lines in the NFL. If you watched New Orleans dismantle the Green Bay Packers last season with Jameis Winston throwing for five touchdowns, you probably believed the hype, which didn’t last very long.
It was evident that this was not the second coming of the “Great Wall of Dallas” but more like the banner at your local peewee football game — Very easy to break through.
The Saints’ offensive line was ranked 18th in the NFL. The Saints have got to address the offensive line, especially the interior. Right guard Cesar Ruiz has not lived up to being the Saints’ first-round draft pick. He has been considered by many as the weak link on the offensive line.
The only positive thing one could consider about Ruiz was his availability. He was the only member of the Saints’ offensive line that started every game in 2021.
Andrus Peat has constantly found himself on the injury list, and when he was available, he left a lot to be desired. Bringing players in to push Ruiz and Peat to reach their full potential will be a start.
Center Erik McCoy and Right tackle Ryan Ramcyzk have been two bright spots on the offensive line. Their health is key to the success of the team.
The Saints lost All-Pro left tackle Terron Armstead to free agency. Still, they have James Hurst and drafted Tackle Trevor Penning out of Northern Iowa in hopes he can be a proper replacement for Armstead sooner rather than later.
The Saints have done a great job adding talent on the offensive side of the football, but if the offensive line is not playing at a high level, their chances of making the playoffs are slim to none.