Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of: Crescent City Sports
By: Ken Trahan
To call the New Orleans Saints a MASH unit on Monday night would be accurate, if not an understatement.
New Orleans was without Kwon Alexander, James Carpenter, Demario Davis, Kaden Elliss, Carl Granderson, J.T. Gray, Jeff Heath, Jaylyn Holmes, Taysom Hill, Malcolm Jenkins, Jordan Mills, Ryan Ramczyk, Christian Ringo, Trevor Siemian, Adam Trautman and Dwayne Washington due to COVID-19 issues. Additionally, Terron Armstead was inactive with his knee injury.
Then, there were three coaches out as well.
Without 17 players, the Saints went into battle as an underdog, at home, against the Miami Dolphins.
Expectations outside of the locker room were subdued, and why not? Perhaps they were inside the walls as well, though we will never know that.
It was the first meeting between the two teams since 2017, when the Saints blanked the Dolphins 20-0 in London.
New Orleans had to start Caleb Benenoch at right tackle, opposite James Hurst at left tackle with both Armstead and Ramczyk out again, along with Jordan Mills. That was a very bad indication of what was to come.
Things could not have started worse for rookie Ian Book in his first NFL start. They never got any better for Book or the Saints.
Here are my Quick Takes from the 20-3 loss to Miami:
**On the third offensive play from scrimmage, Book threw in the flat for Lil’Jordan Humphrey, the pass was tipped by Andrew Van Ginkel, and Nik Needham picked it off and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to give Miami a 7-0 lead with 10:25 to play in the opening quarter.
**On the second offensive series, Nick Vannett dropped an easy catch to help kill the drive before Book was sacked on third down by Christian Wilkins, forcing a punt.
**Miami increased the lead to 10-0 on a 48-yard field goal by Jason Sanders with 2:09 to play in the opening quarter.
**New Orleans had a chance to end the drive without points on a sack by Marcus Davenport, resulting in the fumble by Tua Tagovailoa but Braxton Hoyett, who had a chance to recover the fumble, failed to do so and the Dolphins kept possession and kicked the field goal.
**The Saints finished with minus two yards in the first quarter.
**The Saints finally got a drive going in the second quarter, going 55 yards in eight plays with Brett Maher kicking a 38-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 10-3 with 2:45 to play in the half.
**On the drive, Book completed a pair of passes for 23 yards and he was roughed completing the second one, a 12-yard completion to Alvin Kamara, resulting in a 15-yard penalty to help set up the field goal.
**Miami appeared to benefit from a call that went against the Saints prior to halftime on a 13-yard completion from Tagovailoa to Durham Smythe. The play was reviewed and the review took forever, or so it seemed, and the call was upheld despite replay in the stadium showing the ball clearly moving and apparently touching the ground.
**Cam Jordan then got a big sack, his second sack of the game, his eighth of the season, putting the ball at the New Orleans 41-yard line.
**Sanders then missed a field goal just wide right to end the half at 10-3.
**The Saints ran just 20 plays in the half for 67 yards.
**Marshon Lattimore came up with an interception of a bad throw by Tagovailoa, intended for Mike Gesicki, giving the Saints their best field position of the game at their own 36-yard line.
**Tre’Quan Smith went down in the first half with a chest injury and did not return.
**The Saints failed to do anything with the turnover and the dam finally broke as Miami drove 86 yards in nine plays, taking 4:30 off the clock with Tagovailoa hitting Jaylen Waddle with a 1-yard shovel pass for a touchdown to make it 17-3 with 5:10 to play in the third quarter.
**In desperation, the Saints opted to go for it on fourth-and-one from their own 38-yard line. The call was interesting, a roll-out right for Book, who had absolutely no one open and threw the ball away.
**Miami capitalized with a 34-yard field goal by Sanders to make it 20-3 with 12:05 to play in the game and that was it.
**Book had one brief moment to enjoy with a 56-yard completion to Humphrey late in the game but a few plays later, Book was picked off by Brandon Jones on a ball thrown right to him.
**New Orleans finished with just 158 yards of offense, including the big play to Humphrey.
**The Saints were 0-for-12 on third-down conversion attempts, the first time under Payton New Orleans has failed to convert on third down.
**Ironically, the last time the Saints failed to convert a third-down attempt was against the Nick Saban-coached Dolphins in 2005 in Baton Rouge in a 21-6 loss on Oct. 30 of that year, the Hurricane Katrina displacement season.
**For the second straight week, the Saints were held to single-digit scoring. The last time that happened was in 1997, Mike Ditka’s first season, when New Orleans was blanked in consecutive games, 13-0 to Carolina and 23-0 to San Francisco. Amazingly, the Saints won one of these two games this season, thanks to its defense and to its kicking game.
**Book finished 12-of-20 for 135 yards with two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 40.6.
With all due respect to those who said the Saints had a chance to win or would win this game, what could you have been thinking?
This 2021 New Orleans offense has been limited from the get-go with Jameis Winston and very limited without him. Without offensive linemen, without effective receivers outside of Marquez Callaway and with a fourth-string quarterback, what else could you have expected?
What we saw is exactly what you would expect from a team missing 17 players and three coaches.
It was too much, make that way too much to overcome.
As for Book, he really had no chance.
Of course, he made some shaky decisions and ate the ball a few too many times when he could have thrown it away but he was getting demolished because his offensive line was getting demolished, led by Benenoch, who was woefully inadequate and overmatched from the start. Book was sacked eight times and the Saints finished with just 164 yards of offense.
Book was supposed to sit, watch and learn in a virtual “redshirt” year but did not get that luxury. Taysom Hill and Winston should be happy they did not have to play behind this offensive line on this night.
For what it is worth, an interesting sidebar is that this was was the 24th straight loss by a Notre Dame quarterback starting in the NFL, the longest losing streak by any such school since 1950. The last Notre Dame quarterback to start and win was Brady Quinn in 2012.
Payton is an outstanding offensive coach and mind. That is not debatable.
Regardless of how sharp you are, if you do not have the players, you are not going to succeed.
There will have to be a heavy emphasis on restocking a barren offense in the offseason but first, there are a pair of games still to play.
With two division games remaining, the Saints no longer control their own destiny in terms of trying to make the playoffs.
Right about now, Payton is simply counting the days until he can get some key players back to give his team a chance to win a game.
Incidentally, the once vaunted home field advantage in the Dome is nowhere to be found. The Saints are now a dismal 1-5 in the building this season, having also won a “home” game at Jacksonville.
That win seems like a long, long time ago, watching the team wearing black-and-gold on this night. Quite a few of the players wearing the colors on this night have no business doing so in the near future.
The MASH unit got mashed.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Ken Trahan
The streak is over.
The New Orleans Saints had lost five straight games for the first time since Sean Payton arrived in New Orleans in 2006.
The Saints were sporting the longest active losing streak in the NFL entering Sunday’s game in New Jersey against the New York Jets.
Against a bad team, the Saints showed they were not a bad team, were motivated and were not done.
The defense was very good, not allowing a touchdown.
The offense was efficient, running the ball well and making enough plays in the passing game and committed no turnovers. That will always bode well on the road.
The kicking game was solid, featuring the great coverage of J.T. Gray, the outstanding punting of Blake Gillikin and the solid place-kicking of Brett Maher.
Most of all, it was great having Alvin Kamara back.
After missing four weeks, the team’s best player showed just how valuable he is, accounting 145 yards and a touchdown, including 120 rushing on 27 carries and 25 yards receiving on four receptions.
Kamara posted his second 100-yard rushing game of the season and the fifth of his career. New Orleans rushed for 203 yards and you are not going to lose in the NFL when that occurs.
imply put, the Saints stepped down in class and handled the lesser opponent.
Here are my Quick Takes from the 30-9 win for the Saints over the Jets:
**C.J. Gardner-Johnson was activated from injured reserve and the Saints elevated guard James Carpenter, linebacker Chase Hansen, wide receivers Kevin White and Easop Winston and tight end Ethan Wolf from the practice squad.
**Cameron Jordan, Mark Ingram and Ty Montgomery all missed the game due to testing positive for COVID-19.
**New Orleans kicked off, forced a 3-and-out and drove 65 yards in 14 plays, taking 7:21 off the clock with Maher kicking a 23-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 6:37 to play in the opening quarter. Taysom Hill was 3-for-3 for 26 yards and he rushed four times for 20 yards on the drive.
**Hill was keeping the injured middle finger on his throwing hand in a hand warmer while not in the game.
**With Deonte Harris suspended, Winston returned punts for New Orleans.
**It was as bit of a milestone for the Saints, who had not scored a point in the first quarter in their previous five games.
**Hill tried to throw a screen pass on the first play of the second quarter and he lost the grip on it and fumbled, losing 21 yards.
**The Jets got good field position, as a result, and drove 38 yards in nine plays, taking 3:07 off the clock with Eddy Pineiro booting a 36-yard field goal to tie the game 3-3 with 10:01 to play in the half.
**New Orleans recaptured the lead, driving 54 yards in six plays, taking 3:06 off the clock with Kamara breaking free on a 17-yard touchdown run to make it 10-3 with 3:42 to play in the half. Kamara accounted for 48 of the 54 yards on the drive.
**The Jets pulled closer, cutting the deficit to 10-6 at halftime on a 46-yard field goal by Pineiro on the final play of the half, capping a 10 play, 47-yard drive.
**The New Orleans defense forced four New York possessions which went 3-and-out in the first half.
**Kamara accounted for 95 of the 129 total yards for the Saints in the half. The Saints had the ball for 18:34 to just 11:26 for the Jets.
**New Orleans then drove 80 yards in 15 plays, taking 8:57 off the clock with Maher kicking a 31-yard field goal to increase the lead to 13-6 with 58 seconds to play in the third quarter. Hill was 6-of 7 for 65 yards on the drive.
**The Saints went up 16-6 with 12:22 to play in the game on a 37-yard field goal by Maher after a 31-yard drive in seven plays. It was set up by a 21-yard completion from Hill to Tre’Quan Smith.
**The Saints put the game away with a 51-yard drive in eight plays with Hill scoring on a 1-yard run to make it 23-6 with 5:28 to play in the game. On the play, fullback Adam Prentice and tight end Garrett Griffin had nice blocks.
**The big play of the drive was a 26-yard completion to Marquez Callaway, who broke two tackles to get to the 2-yard line.
**The Jets finally got on the board in the second half with a 36-yard field goal by Pineiro with 3:29 to play in the game to make it 23-9, completing a 53-yard drive in 10 plays.
**The Jets have now allowed 11 of 13 opponents to rush for at least 100 yards.
**Hill then put the cherry on top of the whipped cream with a 44-yard run on a straight sweep to the left side to make it 30-9 with 1:07 to play in the game. It was the longest run of Hill’s career. That capped a three play, 42-yard drive.
**The Jets have now allowed 30 points or more in six of their last eight games.
Playing with the damaged finger, Hill played a winning football game.
Hill completed 15-of-21 passes (71.4 percent) for 175 yards and he rushed 11 times for 73 yards and two scores. The two rushing touchdowns tied Hill’s career high.
While he was not flashy, Hill managed the game well, was accurate, made enough plays with his legs and did not turn the ball over. Against a team with a poor offense in New York, that was the proper tonic for a victory.
The Saints dominated time of possession at 38:52 to just 21:08 for the Jets. The Saints were only penalized four times, though one went for 31 yards for pass interference against Paulson Adebo.
At 6-7, the Saints are back in the playoff chase.
Now comes a huge step up in class as New Orleans heads to Tampa Bay for a rematch with the current Super Bowl champion next week. The Saints whipped the Bucs 36-27 in New Orleans on Halloween but that is when Jameis Winston was injured. That, along with a bundle of other injuries, sent New Orleans on a downward spiral and the 5-game losing streak.
Can the Saints, who beat the Bucs with Trevor Siemian playing much of the way in New Orleans, beat the Bucs at Tampa with Hill at quarterback? Will Jordan, Ingram, Montgomery and, hopefully, Ryan Ramczyk return?
The Saints will certainly need all hands (and legs) on deck if they want to beat the Bucs for a fourth time in five tries with Tom Brady at quarterback.
By running the ball well, taking care of the ball, playing solid defense and having a sound kicking game, the Saints would have a chance. Now, it is time to replicate that formula.