Week 1 in the NFL is always whacky and we saw that on display in the New Orleans Saints season opener that took place in Atlanta against the hated Falcons. Despite being large favorites over the dirty birds, the Saints allowed the Falcons to take a 26-10 lead and were lucky to come out with a win.
While I'm still way too excited to focus on what I'm writing, let's try to break this game down and look at some takeaways. Let's start with a negative, shall we?
Game stats courtesy of ESPN
Abysmal play by offensive line
We knew there’d be growing pains with the Saints’ o-line after Terron Armstead didn’t return and chose to sign with the Dolphins instead. We saw the worst of that during this game, as Jameis Winston was constantly under pressure and sacked a whopping four times by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.
Despite Erik McCoy and Ryan Ramczyk returning, the rest of the line struggled to protect Winston or create running lanes for Alvin Kamara. It was a s**t show, simply put.
Of all of the things that went wrong in this game, the offensive line topped the list.
Taysom Hill needs to be utilized more
While Taysom Hill isn’t the answer at quarterback permanently, there’s no denying what an impact he has when the ball is in his hands, whether it’s as a runner or a pass-catcher or slotting in at quarterback a few times.
Hill had the highlight of the game, in the first half at least, popping off a massive 57-yard run that set New Orleans up in the red zone. Hill scored shortly after on an 11-yard run that put the Saints up early in the game. We didn’t see Hill in the game much after that. He needs to be included more because clearly if the ball is in his hands, he’s going to make a play.
Run defense roughed up
We all talked a big game regarding the Saints' defense this offseason and after seeing them ball out last year, it made sense to do that! However, as we saw in the game, the run defense had a difficult time containing Corrdarelle Patterson, who did whatever he wanted against the Saints.
This is not the defense Saints fans were expecting to see entering the season and while we didn’t get to see the starters play together in the preseason and this could have been chalked up to rust, it was massively disappointing.
Come from behind WIN!
The Saints didn't have any business winning this game when the Falcons did whatever they wanted against their defense. Yet, the offense started to come together in the second half, Jameis Winston made some excellent throws, Michael Thomas had a return for the ages (two touchdowns!), Jarvis Landry had some insane catches, and the defense settled in down the stretch. Oh and Wil Lutz had what ended up being the game-winning kick! It all came together, but it took a bit.
Despite not having any business winning this game, New Orleans overcame the odds and won the game. They beat a team they should have manhandled but hey -- It looked like it was going to be a loss for most of the game. I'm proud of this team but they have a long way to go.