Perspective. I can’t think of a week in which there is so much of it at such contrasting styles. The Saints enter week 5 coming off of a prime time win in a manner that QB Drew Brees said was a character building one for the team. Philadelphia on the other hand is 1-3 following a division loss and fans want their head coach’s head on a platter, and national media are penning columns about how their needs to be a change at quarterback.

New Orleans fans finally enjoyed a positive Monday and talk around the proverbial water cooler this week, centered around on if could be the start of a stretch that saw solid football out of the Black and Gold?

Philadelphia fans are questioning every aspect of their football team as they’ve seen their team struggle and offense to score, on defense to make plays, and on special team to make kicks. Seem familiar? Oh did I mention fans and media in the city of Brotherly Love can’t stand head coach Chip Kelly despite back to back 10-6 seasons.

HOW THE SOUTH IS WON

Atlanta              4-0        vs Redskins +8

Carolina           4-0        Bye Week

Tampa Bay      1-3        vs Jaguars +2.5

New Orleans  1-3        @ Philly -5.0

STORYLINES

Two storylines stick out to me this week. Are we starting to see this team’s identity and will the Saints offensive line wind up giving me an ulcer?

This week I’ve been stuck by how I’ve had to begin to think about the New Orleans Saints football team. The days of double-digit leads at the half or 40-point games could be a thing of the past. This is just NOT the Saints of 2009, 2011, teams that set records and won a Super Bowl. This team is devoid of the type of talent that took to the field wearing the fleur de lis helmet. Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, a young Marcus Colston and Lance Moore provided QB Drew Brees with a pretty good receiving corps. Add RBs Reggie Bush, and master of the screen pass Pierre Thomas. Tight end Jeremy Shockey and the emergence of Jimmy Graham, all combined to help the Saints offense created mismatches and force defense to play everyone and not being be able to focus on one player.

Unfortunately that is not the case now. WR Brandin Cooks is the only player defenses look at on a weekly basis and say; okay we can’t let this guy beat us. Teams will live all day allowing Ben Watson, Josh Hill, Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead catch passes. That’s just realty and Mark Ingram while at times has shown the ability tot shoulder the load and produce is not making defense switch when he goes in motion like Bush did. Brees also enjoyed a much better line. Left tackle, Left Guard and a pair of centers left the team for richer contracts on other teams. You can’t look at the current offensive line and see that happening but say for one spot and that’s left tackle in Terron Armstead.

I’m thinking this team’s identity is much different then teams fans have enjoyed over the last several years. The 2015 Saints consists of an offense that is not explosive. They’ll have to methodically move down the field. They don’t particularly do anything well. The Saints aren’t a run team and on a consistent basis have trouble in the big play department, struggle to pass protect, struggle to run block, rush the passer, and create turnovers. The Saints have zero interceptions in first four games combined. Zilch.

The Saints saw a trio of veterans return last week on the defensive side but suffered an injury to their offensive line. It’s a big hit. Starting right guard Jhari Evans had a knee scope procedure about two weeks ago and was limited at practice this week but it’s likely Senio Kelemete starts his second straight game. Rookie Andrus Peat could be starting his first game this week at left tackle following Terron Armstead knee injury against Dallas.

So Brees goes into Philadelphia on Sunday with the possibility of a rookie left tackle, a mediocre left guard, a fill in right guard and a right tackle in Zach Strief, who to say has struggled this season would be putting it mildly.  The Saints will have extra offensive possessions due to Philadelphia’s offensive style as the Eagle’s defense spends a ton of time on the field. If Brees and the Saints offense can sustain long drives they should be able to take advantage of a tired defense. To sustaining long drives though this offensive line has to allow the run game to get going and keep Brees from being hit seemingly on every pass.

THE ENEMY

Philadelphia enter the game (1-3) following last week’s 23-20 loss at Washington its second loss of three points or less this season. It’s not happy time with the Eagles offense as they are supposed to be a high-flying, point putting up team. It surprised many around the league when in March they signed last season’s leading rusher in DeMarco Murray who had 1,845 yards last season has just 47 yards on 29 carries this season. The Eagle’s special teams has been well, special. In those two close losses, they have missed two field goals and an extra point.

BY THE NUMBERS

The Saints offense is averaging 387.3 yards per game good for 6th best in the NFL (shocked? I was). Philadelphia is ranked 29th as they are averaging 294.0 yards a contest. New Orleans putting up 21.5 points per game good for 19th in the league, while Philly is putting up 19.5 ranking them tied for 22nd. Neither team is doing well in the ground game as the Saints are rushing for 82.8 yards a game (28th) and the Eagles are 70.0 (30th).

Defensively Saints opponents are picking up 123.3 (27th) yards on the ground and 258.3 (20th) in the air.  The Eagles defense is allowing on 97.0 (13th) yards on the ground and 276.5 (25th) through the air.

PLAYER THAT NEEDS TO HAVE A GOOD GAME ON OFFENSE

C.J. Spiller. Spiller showed in the game winning 80-yard TD catch and run what he can bring to this offense. Speed, play making and touchdown scoring ability which is desperately needed. Defenses have to adjust, keep and eye on and account for him when in the game especially after showing with just one play that he is indeed healthy. The added benefit with Spiller is that he can be a much needed second option or decoy.

Saints fans want to know where is WR Brandin Cooks. He’s being double teamed, jammed at the line, etc. Head coach Sean Payton has said that the best way to beat a double team is to have a valid second option in which to make the defense pay.  Another thing Spiller could be is the decoy on a play. Simply moving a defender out of an area can possibly free up Cooks and a possible big play.

PLAYER THAT NEEDS TO HAVE A GOOD GAME ON DEFENSE

Cam Jordan. The young duo of Tyler Davison and Bobby Richardson performed well last week. Rookie Hao’lui Kikaha has three straight games with a sack. Hopefully that kind play will put Jordan one on one, something that hasn’t happened a ton. Philadelphia QB Sam Bradford has had a pair of season ending knee surgeries and shouldn’t exactly be fleet of foot. Jordan punishing Bradford or at least giving him happy feet could go a long way into giving the Saints defense a big play via a turnover.

X FACTORS

CB Brandon Browner. Why is he an X-Factor? Well if he just plays better than the way he’s been playing it’ll be a help, and especially since the Eagles want to throw the heck out of the ball. The more the ball goes in the air, the more chances it goes towards Browner, the more those can be penalties on him or….OR not! That’s the case, if he can just not be flagged it’s a help.

HOW I SEE IT

Philadelphia hasn’t played good football. They have the ability to, but they just haven’t. The offense can really get going and then at times it can’t pick up a first down. The Saints are getting healthier on defense and six of the top eight tacklers last week were rookies. Lots have been said about the up-tempo fast-paced style of the Eagles offense. Well who better to be ready for it then guys who played college football just a season ago where the up-tempo – spread style is prevalent. My big question is the offensive line. Still think the Saints via defensive big plays win this game 27-23.

 

***Catch the game on 97.3 The Dawg starting at 10am on Sunday. Kick-off is set for noon.***