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A View from the UK – Sloppy Saints lose to Falcons

Coming off the bye week with the majority of the team healthy, the Saints contrived to lose at home to the Atlanta Falcons and they deserved what they got. The Falcons looked hungrier, had a better game plan and did a number on the previously impressive Saints. Large numbers of penalties did not help the Saints cause in any way, helping to extend Falcons drives and stunt their own attack. Hopefully this was just post bye rust, some complacency or a very clever attempt to keep LSU Quarterback Joe Burrow anywhere close to the Falcons in the draft. As usual, with less fun this week, we will look into all 3 sides of the ball.

Offense:
9 points against a lowly ranked defense, at home, ain’t it. No Touchdowns scored, not much to write home about. A couple of standout performances from the good, bad and downright ugly. 

Starting with the best, it’s Michael Thomas. He continues to be on pace for a record number of receptions and yards with a 152 game here off 13 catches. Whether it was Taysom Hill or Drew Brees throwing to him, he still cannot be guarded. One catch in particular an excellent toe tap on the side-line for a big gainer early on. Brees said he wanted to spread the ball round more, but with Thomas in your team you don’t need to, plus no one is really jumping out of their uniforms to help him.

Drew Brees wasn’t bad on Sunday either. Although he did hang on to the ball too long on a few occasions, taking hits and misplacing some passes, he still manged 32/45 for 287. This would have been better if people didn’t keep dropping easy catches too. Whether it was Drew or the coaching, what I didn’t like was the abandonment of the run game so early on, forcing Brees to throw as many as 45 times, largely short yardage plays. Kamara may not have been 100% healthy but what Latavius Murray has been doing in his absence was completely ignored here as if it never happened.

Final somewhat positive to take from this game was Jared Cook. Brees’ 2nd go to after Thomas, he is starting to look more like the player the Saints were hoping to get with 74 yards off 6 catches.

Ted Ginn Jr. was bad. Dropped multiple passes and was just not good here. It appears no one wants to be that guy behind Michael Thomas, is Dez still about….?

The O-line was down right ugly. Appalling in-fact. They gave up 6 sacks against a team who previously had 7…all season long! Peat got hurt, he was trash before he came off. Armstead was dire, although he may have had some illness, wasn’t on it here. McCoy got blown up a few times and got called for a trip, which was so obvious even my cat called it (I don’t have a cat…..). Maybe it’s because I was praising them so highly in the preview, I will calm it down from now on.

Basically, it was really disappointing. Maybe it would be different if Kamara hadn’t slipped when down 3-0 to walk in for a TD but I doubt it. Too much pressure allowed, run game abandoned, tactics wrong, write this off, get on the practise field and move on.

Defense:
This side of the ball wasn’t much better either, potentially worse actually, especially with the injuries sustained and the penalties given up. The Saints only recorded one sack of Matt Ryan and the run stopping we have seen in recent weeks was stomped on by the Falcons 3rd string running back. At least 2 times Ryan was allowed to run in on 3rd down for a fresh set of downs.  

5 penalties on the D resulted in automatic first downs to continue Falcons drives. I have never seen 4 illegal use of hands, hands to the face in one game, what was that about? Awful discipline.

Demario Davis is one of the only players who deserves some credit for this one. He recorded the sack and was strong in the tackle. 11 total tackles for Davis. He is a leader and a huge player for this team. It’s a shame his teammates couldn’t play to his standard.

Marcus Williams is a much-improved player this season, he looks better in coverage and recorded an interception when the Falcons gave the Saints a tiny glimmer of hope.

Eli Apple had a nice battle with Julio Jones when Marshon Lattimore went out with an injury. They were switching coverage between Jones and Ridley after a breakout game for Ridley in this matchup last season. It appears Lattimore has a hamstring injury, with not a great deal of quality depth at Cornerback, the Saints will need him healthy asap.

I mean, that’s about it, don’t want to talk about anyone else. Busted coverages, players slipping over, missed tackles and penalties this sloppy display had it all. I expected the Falcons to score but not this easily. The Saints D allowed Bryan Hill his first NFL rushing TD and 71 scrimmage yards. This isn’t Dalvin Cook or CMC (yet…) and they were made to pay, those elite guys would get 250+ on this D the way they played yesterday. Wise up Defense!

Special Teams:
Probably the best of the 3 units, one game killing penalty aside. If JT Gray doesn’t hit the punter on a 4th and 11 then the Saints could have had a slim chance but he did and it cost 15 yards and a 1st down. 3 more points against and game over.

Wil Lutz hit all his kicks.

Thomas Morstead kicked some nice punts.

Deonte Harris had some nice returns and set up the offense with good field position on a few occasions but they didn’t fancy Touchdowns so was worth nothing.

Summary:
Whether Sunday’s game was a wake-up call or a trap game or whatever you want to call it, the Saints need to show up next week. It’s about how they come back from here. Hopefully these issues aren’t deep set in, hopefully it was a one-off poor performance with Atlanta wanting it more and the Saints sleeping on their opponent. Only time will tell, Sunday can’t come soon enough.

Until next time……with hopefully a much more positive outcome
Who Dat!

All Saints Considered resident UK Saint! Who Dat!