Welcome back, folks. Let’s go ahead and take one last look back Sunday’s win over the Indianapolis Colts. The win improved the New Orleans Saints to 3-4, also giving them their first road victory of the season. Let’s jump right in.
Saints Offensive Grades
It really was not that great of a day for the pass offense. They were certainly better than average, but no where near as good as one would think based off of knowing that the Saints jumped out to a 27-0 lead. Two of the team’s touchdowns were set up off of short fields from turnovers caused by the defense and special teams. Drew Brees finished the day with just 255 yards passing, while completing 63.3% of his passes. He also had one touchdown pass, along with an interception that he threw in the end zone. The turnover was due to miscommunication between he and Marques Colston, so either way it was a negative for the passing unit. The pass protection was pretty good, only allowing two sacks. One came on the very first drive of the game, so they held up well throughout the rest of the game. None of the pass catchers did anything special, as Brandin Cooks led the team in both receptions and receiving yards, going 6/81.
As I have said before, I rarely give out a perfect grade. This was about as close as I can get to giving one, without actually doing it. My only reservation in doing so was Khiry Robinson’s 2.0 yards per carry average on his 14 carries, even despite the fact that he had two touchdown runs. Aside from that average being pretty low, everything else was perfect. Mark Ingram had his best day of season, rushing for 143 yards, a touchdown, and a 10.2 yards per carry average. Five of his fourteen carries went for double digit yardage, including runs of 44, 35, and 20 yards. The offensive line did a phenomenal job of opening holes, allowing Ingram to get to the second level, where he routinely made would-be tacklers miss. This was by far the best effort we have seen from the Saints running game thus far this year.
Mark Ingram: Staying right here with Ingram, I can not say enough about how great he looked. What makes his performance even more impressive, is that he did all of his damage in just two quarters. For some reason, he was barely on the field during the first quarter, only receiving one carry. He also only got two carries in the fourth quarter, with the three touches going for just three yards. That means that during the second and third quarters, he carried the ball 11 times for 140 yards and a touchdown. His usage was odd, but it was clear that he was running with a purpose.
Michael Hoomanawanui: Fun fact, I actually spelled his last name properly without having to look when I typed it just now. I just about have the pronunciation down, too! Anyways, “Hooman”, as they call him, had his best game since being traded to the Saints a few weeks ago. His five receptions, 31 yards, and touchdown reception were more than he had all of last season with the New England Patriots.
(Honorable Mention) Marques Colston: I strongly believe in giving credit where credit is due, which you will see me refer to again later in this article, so Colston deserves mention for his one reception. Why? Because it finished the game. Cornerback Darius Butler was in very good position, but the 3rd down throw from Brees to Colston was perfectly placed at the back shoulder, with #12 making a perfect hands catch and boxing out Butler to prevent him from making a play. The 20 yard reception allowed the Saints to run out the clock and seal the game.
Saints Defensive Grades
As it was for many players and facets of the team, Sunday was the pass defense’s best performance of the year. When I talk about defending the pass, I always start with pressure on the quarterback. The pressure was certainly there on Sunday, as New Orleans sacked Andrew Luck four times, while also getting close enough to him to throw off numerous passes. The coverage was very good, as well. The only two mishaps were from Delvin Breaux, as he simply tripped in tight coverage, allowing T.Y. Hilton to make two wide open receptions for touchdowns. The Saints also picked off Luck twice, including rookie Stephone Anthony’s first career interception.
I graded this one out right at average, mainly based off of sample size. Frank Gore only had nine carries in the game, as Indianapolis was forced to mostly abandon the running game after quickly falling behind by a few touchdowns. Gore did average 4.8 yards per carry, but thankfully was never able to get in to a rhythm due to the game’s circumstances.
Cam Jordan: This call is as easy as it gets following a performance like Jordan’s. His two sacks raised his season total to six for the season, but five of those have come in the past two games. He has been on fire, creating havoc even when he does not get the sack. His pressure played a role in Luck’s second interception at the end of the first half, allowing Kyle Wilson to make the big play that kept the Colts from getting points on the board before halftime.
Kyle Wilson: Speaking of Wilson, he finds himself on the Saints list for the first time this season, thanks to two huge takeaways. I just mentioned his interception that prevented Indianapolis from scoring, but his other takeaway was huge, as well. He was right there for the recovery of Griff Whalen’s fumble when David Hawthorne knocked the ball out on the kickoff return, setting the Saints up with a short field that led to a touchdown.
Rob Ryan: I have been very vocal about my feelings on Rob Ryan and while one game is not enough to change my opinion even slightly, my standards remain the same. I give credit where credit was due. In this situation, Ryan deserves a lot of credit. His game plan was perfect. It is never an easy task to try and limit a quarterback like Andrew Luck’s success, but Ryan and his staff found a way to do just that. Again, aside from two plays, the defense absolutely shut down the Colts passing offense. Not only did we see great game planning, but we saw players that looked inspired. With a favorable schedule on the way, Ryan and his unit have a golden opportunity to build off of this performance going forward.
Special Teams Grade: B+
It was quite the busy and interesting day for the Greg McMahon’s special teams unit. First off, it was very nice to have Thomas Morstead back. The Saints had been struggling in punt distance average before Sunday, but Morstead boomed 10 punts for an average of 48.7 yards to really help in the field position game. He pinned five of those inside of the 20 yard line, as well. As for the kicking game, Kai Forbath made his first appearance in black and gold, but his only field goal attempt was taken away on a beautifully executed and perfectly timed fake field goal. Luke McCown hit Ben Watson in stride to get the Saints down to the 1 yard line, eventually leading to a Khiry Robinson touchdown. As far as when Forbath’s foot actually did touch the ball, he finished 3/4 on extra points. His missed extra point came off of a high snap, which may have thrown him off. Regardless, that one point nearly came back to bite them, as the Colts’ late comeback got them in position to potentially take the lead with another touchdown and extra point. As I mentioned earlier, the special teams did create a takeaway that led to a touchdown, which is always huge.
That will do it for this one, folks. Thank you for tuning in for another week, as we are nearly halfway through the season already. The Saints will welcome the New York Giants who come down with a 4-3 record, following a victory over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. We will have coverage of that game coming later this week, so be sure to stay tuned for what to expect this weekend. As always, be sure to drop in and let us know your thoughts. We are always excited to hear what you guys are thinking and seeing, too!
Until next time…Who Dat?!
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