Gus Kattengell’s Saints Report — Week 2 at New York Giants
One point two different feelings. It’s remarkable how big a difference one point makes.
The season is only a week old but in the NFL every win and loss is heavily scrutinized. It’s just how it is in the era of multiple full time sports networks, radio talk shows and social media platforms for fans to give their opinions. Due to it, there tends to be at times overreactions on a week-to-week basis.
This could be one of those weeks as the New Orleans Saints (0-1) visit the New York Giants (1-0) by saying this is a must win game for the black and gold as both team come off of one point games last Sunday.
Saints head coach Sean Payton hates it when reporters ask if a game is a must win, or a big win, or an important one. “They all are”, coach has said in the past and he is right. That said there are levels of importance, right? After all it was Payton who said the Wednesday prior to the start of training camp that the start of the season would be important to the team’s post-season hopes.
Week 5 is when the Saints get their bye-week and after that will face the Panthers, Chiefs, Seahawks, 49ers, Broncos and Panthers in a tough six-game stretch. It’s clear you would like to get as many wins as possible prior to the gauntlet.
A 3-1 record into the bye would have been nice, 4-0 real nice. 2-2 would seem like a poor start and a 1-3 open could be potentially disastrous. True the season is long and overreacting to one loss or win is never smart as many things can happen to the Saints much less other teams on the schedule between now and game day.
First round pick Sheldon Rankins will be back after the midway point of the season to help the defensive line and cornerback Delvin Breaux will also return around the same time and clearly they will help the defense. You never want to dig too big of a hole, however, and a loss this Sunday would have a Saints team taking to the field against a division opponent on Monday Night Football with them facing questions of trying to avoid an 0-3 start.
In New York, there is excitement as the “G-Men” went on the road and picked up a division win in Dallas for first year head coach Ben McAdoo. Sports talk in the Big Apple are penciling the Saints as a team New York should beat and one many expect could be a replay of last year's offensive shootout. The Saints won that game in November 52-49 as New Orleans put up 608 yards of offense as QB Drew Brees tossed seven touchdown passes and QB Eli Manning tossed six.
Funny how one point changes how one feels about an upcoming game. If the Saints had been the team that made enough plays to win, the storyline would be about how the Saints defense is better than the past as they closed out the win. New York fans may be talking about how they failed to close out if the Cowboys receiver had gone out of bounds to allow a game winning field goal to take place.
So we won’t overreact too much. The Saints, however, are a loss away from beginning the process.
The Storyline this week is simple. Can the Saints defense slow the Giants down as once again it appears after one week that the offense will have to carry the Black and Gold?
It’s nothing new to Saints fans, watching Drew Brees do all he can to keep his team in the game. Heck, it just last week where we saw Brees throw for 423 yards and 4 touchdowns in a loss that saw the offense put up 507 yards of offense.
The defense hasn’t been good. Since the start of last season opponents have been able to pass on the Saints, 46 touchdowns to just 9 interceptions during that time frame.
Delvin Breaux suffered a broken fibula in the opener and will be out at least six weeks, which means that now the Saints cornerbacks are pretty much all-first year players. De’Vante Harris, P.J. Williams, and Ken Crawley are all going into their second career regular season game. How will they be able to matchup against two veteran receivers and a rookie will be the key.
A way to help the young secondary is to pressure Eli Manning as the Saints pressured Oakland’s Derek Carr several times, flushing him out of the pocket, but failing to bring him down a single time. The defense had its moments keeping the Raiders from scoring in the second quarter and holding them to just three points in the third.
22 points in the fourth though showed me the lack of depth and fatigue that is a concern heading into a game where they will face a no-huddle offense run by a two-time Super Bowl MVP in Manning.
New York enters the game 1-0 following a 20-19 win at Dallas. QB Eli Manning hit receiver Victor Cruz for one of his three TD passes to put the Giants ahead with six minutes remaining.
It was Cruz’s first full game in two years as he suffered a knee injury in 2014 that has kept him from action. Cruz finished with four grabs for 34 yards and a touchdown. LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. also had 4 catches for 73 yards. 2nd round draft pick receiver Sterling Shepard had 3 receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown.
New York tried to upgrade their defense from a season ago, one that was as bad as the Saints statistically and they failed to record a sack last Sunday.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Saints offense after the opening week is ranked first overall in the NFL. New Orleans is 1st in passing in passing and 19th in rushing. New York is the 22nd ranked offense as the Giants are 22nd in passing and 12th in rushing.
Defensively the Saints finished the opening week second to last overall thanks to the 35 points and 486 total yards allowed to the Raiders (Oakland is last). New York is 13th overall as they are ranked 14th against the pass and 18th against the run
ESPN’s Week 2 power rankings saw the Giants move up one to 16 and the Saints move up 3 spots to 24 from last week’s 27th slot.
QB Drew Brees needs just 36 yards on Sunday to move past Dan Marino for third place on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list. Marino sits at 61,361 yards. Brees last year passed Dan “The Man” for third place on the all-time touchdown list. Currently, Brees is at 432, behind Peyton Manning (530 TDs) and Brett Favre (508 TDs). Manning and Favre are also one and two on the all-time passing yardage list each with 71,000 yards.
HOW THE SOUTH IS WON
Tampa Bay 1-0 @ Arizona -7
New Orleans 0-1 @ NY Giants -4.5
San Francisco 1-0 @ Carolina -13.5
Atlanta 0-1 @ Oakland -5.0
PLAYER THAT NEEDS TO HAVE A GOOD GAME ON OFFENSE
QB Drew Brees. He was the pick last week and, well, he may be the permanent pick every week if the defense doesn’t improve. The man threw 4 TDs and it wasn’t enough. I have a feeling he will have to have a similar game this week. Last year he needed 7 TD passes to beat the Giants. If he needs that many, the Saints got a real bargain in his latest contract extension.
PLAYER THAT NEEDS TO HAVE A GOOD GAME ON DEFENSE
DE Cam Jordan. One. Jordan had one tackle in the Raiders game and one QB hit. He has to be more of a factor in the game. I get that until others on the defensive line step up he will face double teams and such but I’m sorry, his contract is one that says he is among if not the best player on your defense. The Saints will not win if they fail to pressure Manning and Cam Jordan can go a long way in doing that. Time to do it.
TE Coby Fleener. One catch for 6 yards was Fleener’s total last Sunday and, well, when you sign a deal that pays you $7 million a season, it’s not good enough. The Giants no doubt will pay attention to WRs Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead and Michael Thomas will also have eyes trailing him. I believe the middle of the field could be and should be open for Fleener who will be matched up with a linebacker that he should be to take advantage of. A nice game from him can help the Saints win.
S Kenny Vaccaro. No doubt the Giants will try to use play action to go over the top and look for big plays from their receivers. The safeties for the Saints will be working a ton on Sunday. New York still likes to run the ball so they need to help there, help the young DBs they have, and in Vaccaro’s case get after Manning in a blitz or two.
HOW I SEE IT
The Saints put up 507 yards of offense at home and lost. I feel that’s enough to pick the Giants in this week’s matchup. New Orleans however should have won the game. Yes the pass interference call was a joke, but that game tying drive by Oakland in the final four and a half minutes exposed a lot of the Saints defensive deficiencies.
No doubt the Saints realize the importance of not going down 0-2 to start the season. I believe the team will be ready and play with the required energy and such. That’s not the issue. The issue is experience or lack thereof for the Saints. A third year QB in Carr and second year receiver in Cooper figured it out and took advantage of them eventually in the game.
What’s Manning going to do? The Saints defense will get a stop or two but to expect them to be a deterrent for four quarters is wishful thinking. Brees and offense can score and I believe they will put up twenty plus points, the problem is they may need more than thirty
Giants win 31-23.