In a tale of two offenses on Monday Night Football, the normally-average Minnesota Vikings sizzled, while the normally-above-average New Orleans Saints fizzled.
Normally this phrase would be the other way around. Although the Saints were able to move the ball down the field multiple times, they only got into the endzone once. The Vikings moved the ball at lightning speed as two of their three touchdown drives happened in less than two minutes.
That was something that the Saints were never able to do last night. All of their scoring drives that took five minutes or more resulted in field goals.
As the Saints prepare to take on the New England Patriots in their home opener, the offense is bound to bounce back. Drew Brees actually has a winning record against the Patriots and has never lost to them in his San Diego days. In his four career games against the Patriots, Brees threw for 10 touchdowns and one interception, and he also became the first quarterback to have five touchdown passes against a Patriots defense in the Bill Belichick-era.
There is definitely a lot more pressure on the Saints defense then there is on the Saints offense. The defense is facing immense pressure of stopping a rested Tom Brady and the Patriots offense, while the offense tries to go toe-to-toe with the Patriots and take advantage of their slightly banged-up defense.
While right tackle Zach Strief is expected to miss some time because of an MCL sprain in his knee, it’s only for a few weeks. That may spell disaster for the Saints offense, but Strief should be back in the lineup after the bye week. By then, the Saints would still have to play three of the four teams from last year’s playoffs (Lions, Packers and Falcons), as well as three additional games in the division. There’s a good possibility that Strief will be available for all of those games.
The passing game should still be fine. The Saints still have versatile lineman Senio Kelemente to fill in for Strief, and he’s actually not that bad in pass protection. Brees was only sacked once and hit twice against the Vikings and was just nine yards short of hitting the 300-yard mark. Seven different players caught a pass from Brees, and tight end Coby Fleener was the leader of the pack as he caught the Saints’ only touchdown.
In the case of the run game, it needs a lot of work. Adrian Peterson‘s very first regular season game with the Saints was an absolute disaster, and neither Mark Ingram or Alvin Kamara did anything to make the run game work better. Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook had almost twice as many yards (127) in the game as Peterson, Ingram and Kamara combined (53). The run game has the chance to improve against the Patriots, but they need to figure things out and figure them out quick.
The Saints still have time to get into a good rhythm as an offense this season. Last night was definitely rough, and almost every position group was not excluded from heavy criticism. However, the Saints have a good chance of overcoming their issues and pulling things together just in time for the cold holiday months. It’s not all bad in the end.
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