The Saints looked ill-prepared in yesterday’s 24-21 loss to the Eagles
As always, for our novice readers or non-New Orleanians, welcome!
Let’s start with some definitions:
Beignets (English: /bɛnˈjeɪ/; French: [bɛɲɛ], ben-YAY literally bump) are distinctly New Orleans, a delicacy intimately connected to the city’s rich French heritage. Best enjoyed heavily powdered with sugar.
This is your “After-Saints-Game” brunch, where we talk about the state of the Black and Gold, we debate the goings-on with the team and talk about what’s next at this point of the season. So, sit back, take a bite and a sip while your brain slowly wakes up, and let’s catch up on some football.
What Just Happened?
No sacks. Not one. That was the Saints’ defense total yesterday in Philadelphia, in a surprising 24-21 loss to the Eagles. In their last five games against the Bucs, Niners, Falcons (twice) and Broncos, the Saints had recorded 17 combined sacks. Against Philadelphia’s average offensive line, one that had Carson Wentz taking sacks like they were on sale, the Saints’ fearsome D-line got nothing, zero.
Zero, like the number of points New Orleans scored in the first half. The Saints trailed 17-0 at halftime, having missed a field goal, missed open receivers, missed tackles, missed the bus, it seemed.
The Saints appeared to underestimate the Eagles, as they started the game flatter than an unleavened pancake. Or maybe it was the fact that this was the third road game in a row for New Orleans, in a league where any team can truly win a game on a given day and winning on the road is the hardest. Whatever the case, with the loss, the Saints are now in second place in the NFC, behind the 10-3 Green Bay Packers, who hold the head-to-head tiebreak over New Orleans by virtue of their week three win in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. That is a precarious position this year, as only one team will get a bye week in the postseason. Yesterday, the Saints might have just sealed their playoffs fate again.
Beignets and Café au Lait Awards
No Beignets, No Coffee: Taysom Hill
Since he got the nod over Jameis Winston to replace Drew Brees, I have been a Taysom Hill apologist. After all, he had never started an NFL game before, so any shortcomings were understandable. He just needed time. Well, four games into Hill’s interim, I am now surreptitiously slipping off the bandwagon. After a fairly good game against Atlanta (albeit one marred by two fumbles), Hill was his fumbling self again yesterday against the Eagles, losing a crucial one on a puzzling fourth down pass play call by Sean Payton in the fourth quarter, with the Saints down three points. Earlier in the game, Hill threw an interception when he bulleted a pass to Alvin Kamara, showing the touch of a bear trying to delicately crack a chestnut open. Kamara tipped the pass with was picked off on the ricochet by Eagles linebacker Duke Riley. Let’s just say that I am ready for Drew Brees to return, week air-yards and all.
Stale Beignets with Lukewarm Coffee: Wil Lutz
When credit is due, I am always happy to give it. And the same goes for criticism. There was a time this season when Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz was perfect on both field goals and extra point attempts. Lutz is now only 20-for-25 on field goals (80%). What’s more alarming, four of his five misses have come in the last three games and he went 0-for-2 yesterday in Philly. Lutz’ first miss was from 45 yards out, a distance easily within his range. His second, a 57-yard attempt is more forgivable. The Saints however will be hoping that Lutz can rediscover his early season form, as they will certainly need the talented kicker at his best for the postseason run.
Talk about things not getting any easier: The Saints face the defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday in what will be New Orleans’ first home game since November 22. The Chiefs (12-1) are on an eight-game winning streak, with their only loss being a 40-32 setback against the Los Angeles Raiders all the way back to week 5. The Saints’ defense will have its hands full with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce. New Orleans may welcome Drew Brees back to the lineup, after the starting quarterback missed the last four games with rib injuries. No decision has been made yet on Brees’ participation in the game. The Saints have to win their three remaining regular season games and hope that Green Bay slips once to regain the top seed in the NFC. Tall task, but if you want to be the champs, you have to beat the champs.