Saints offense looking to bounce back in 2022
By TJAY Jones
All stats and rankings courtesy of Pro Football Reference
For almost two decades the New Orleans Saints were one of the best offenses in the NFL, putting up historic numbers and keeping defensive coordinators up at night due to their offensive innovation. Led by legendary quarterback Drew Brees, and head coach Sean Payton calling the plays, the Saints' offense on Sunday was like watching legendary painter Bob Ross create a masterpiece but that seems like ancient history going into the 2022 NFL season.
Both Brees and Payton are no longer with the team, and the Saints' new identity has become their defense. In 2021 the New Orleans Saints offense was ranked 28th, among the worst in the NFL but the offense is looking to correct the mistakes of last year, and get back to being one of the NFL’s best.
Going into the 2022 season the Saints knew they had to do one thing, and that’s add some much-needed firepower to the offensive side of the football. In 2021 the Saints were without All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas for the entire year after a setback with an ankle injury he sustained in 2020. That caused the team to rely on a group of undrafted, and unproven receivers to get the job done.
Although players like Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harty had their moments, it was obvious that the Saints were not going to reach their ultimate goal with a group of receivers who struggled to get any type of separation. The Saints have Michael Thomas back this season, but they went out and signed receiver Jarvis Landry in free agency and they drafted the young talented receiver Chris Olave out of Ohio State, two players that are more than capable of making plays. This group looks as if they could go down in history as the best receiver corp the team has ever assembled and they displayed that in Week 1 against the Falcons.
The Saints also had offensive line issues last year because they were decimated with injuries at the position. Guard Cesar Ruiz was the only Saints offensive lineman that played in all 17 games. They lost All-Pro Left Tackle Terron Armstead to free agency, but they still have James Hurst who played in quite a few games for the Saints throughout 2021 and drafted Tackle Trevor Penning who looks as if he is the real deal (though he's injured to start the year).
Right Tackle Ryan Ramczyk looks to have a bounce-back year after dealing with injuries last year, and Erik McCoy should have a little more pep in his step after signing a five-year extension. If the o-line stays healthy in 2022 Jameis Winston could have a season for the ages but as we saw in the season opener, that'll be easier said than done as the unit struggled mightily.
If the Saints want to be a top offense they are going to need quarterback Jameis Winston to play lights out. Winston was on pace to put up the best numbers of his career last year, but an ACL injury cut his season short. There is no doubt that Winston is one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the NFL, and if he continues down the path he was going on before his injury the Saints could be marching to more than just a playoff berth, but a Super Bowl title. He showed in the season opener that he can lead the team back from a big deficit and put them in a position to win.
Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael is now the primary play caller for the New Orleans Saints. He enters this season with very high expectations, and big shoes to fill. For 16 years Coach, Sean Payton was the one calling plays offensively and has gotten the majority of the credit for the Saints' offensive success.
Carmichael has been the coordinator throughout that time and has been responsible for some of the Saints' more legendary offensive performances. The Saints organization may have given Carmichael some of the most talented offensive players the team has ever assembled, he is more than capable of drawing up an offense that will have Saints fans doing the Benson Boogie all season long.
While it was a slow start for the offense in Week 1, we saw in the fourth quarter just how explosive this group could be. The question now is -- Can they get things figured out before the fourth quarter?