5 Positives/5 Negatives In Saints Loss To Bucs
Here are five positives, and also five negatives, to take away from the New Orleans Saints' 48-40 season-opening loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday:
1)---Drew Brees---He just keeps on keepin' on, doesn't he? Now 39-years old, and in his 18th NFL season, Brees did more than his part to keep the Saints in the game, completing 37-of-45 passes for 439 yards and three touchdowns. Thanks to Brees' monster game, the Saints put up 40 points, which is normally more than enough to win.
2)---Michael Thomas---He set a team record, catching 16 passes, to go along with 180 receiving yards and a touchdown. Those are huge numbers, so he has to be on the list, but he had far from a perfect game, so he also makes the list below.
3)---Alvin Kamara---The Saints were playing catch up most of the game, so he only finished with 29 rushing yards, but he did his part in the passing game, catching 9 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. Kamara is a really special talent. I just hope he doesn't wear down over the first four games, with Mark Ingram out.
4)---Offensive Line---The Saints gained 475 of total offense, so you would think the line played well. Brees had plenty of time to throw, and was sacked just once, on 46 pass plays. Yes, the Saints need to run the football better, but again, they had to abandon the ground game, and they were playing without Ingram. I thought the offensive, especially playing without starting guard Andrus Peat, did really well.
5)---It Only Counts As One Loss---As bad as the Saints were, at least defensively, on Sunday, it only counts for one loss. Remember, the Saints began 2017 with an 0-2 record, and looked awful in the process, yet if not for a miracle play, they would have made it into the NFC Championship Game.
1)---Michael Thomas---He's listed on top, because he has to be; and he's listed down here, because he has to be. He dropped a pass right in his bread basket on a third down play, that should have kept a second half drive alive, and then later fumbled away another reception in Bucs territory that may have led to points. As good as he was, setting a franchise record, those two mistakes were critical.
2)---Mike Gillislee---His fumble, which Justin Evans returned 34 yards for a touchdown, gave the Bucs momentum, and started to downfall. As bad as the Saints were, defensively, take away the fumbles by Gillislee and Thomas, and they win. That's not an opinion, it's a fact; if you disagree with me you're wrong.
3)---Defensive Line---Zero quarterback sacks, and very little pressure. Plus, they lost containment on Fitzpatrick a few times and committed a couple of personal fouls. This unit was tabbed by many, including me, as the best in franchise history entering the season, due to its talent and depth. That may very well wind up being the case, but they were putrid on Sunday.
4)---Secondary---Last year, Devante Harris was the popular choice for the reason the Saints got off to such a poor start on pass defense. So, who is to blame now? Really, the entire secondary. That was really an abysmal performance. Ryan Fitzpatrick, a backup quarterback, absolutely shredded the Saints' secondary, throwing for a career-high 417 yards. Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson combined to catch all 12 the passes they were targeted on, resulting in 293 yards and three touchdowns. The cornerbacks weren't close, and the safties weren't anywhere to be found on a lot of pass plays. I still think this group is going to be good, but man, they were bad on Sunday. Considering what Saints fans thought they had, defensively (and what they still might have), to go along with the opposition, who tied a franchise-high for most points scored, and the way the defense played on Sunday; that was arguably the worst defensive performance in franchise history.
5)---0-1, Yet Again...For the 5th-consecutive year, the Saints are 0-1 to begin a season. Next week, they have to beat a much-improved Browns squad to also avoid starting the year 0-2 for a fifth-straight time. Make no mistake, I think the Saints are going to be good this year. I still consider them a Super Bowl contender. But also make no mistake; they have to play significantly better next week, mainly on defense, or they won't win. It it just coincidence that the Saints are 0-1, yet again, or is there something to it? Do they need a different preseason approach, even though I think they've tried that? Do they tell everybody that it's October? All I know is; starting the year with a loss for five-consecutive seasons is just no fun.