Welcome to the 5th ever edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race in the Perspective of Chase’, an almost daily article on your favorite NFL team. We have done the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans if you want to check those out on chasessportsnews.com. We are also doing something very similar to this on the Cool Sports Newsletter for the NBA if you want to check that out. Today we are doing the New Orleans Saints! Can they contend? Lets, get into this!
The New Orleans Saints were a perennial Super Bowl contender under Drew Brees for a very long time. In 2019, the Saints had Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas (2019 Offensive Player of the Year), Cameron Jordan, Marshon Lattimore, Demario Davis, Marcus Williams and others. It was a very talented squad. However, they got eliminated in the Wild Card round to the Minnesota Vikings in an upset. The next season, the Saints got better by signing Emmanuel Sanders which was important after Thomas dealt with several injuries. New Orleans had home field against their division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Brees’ three interceptions sent Tampa Bay to the conference championship. It was also Drew Brees last ever game, as he decided to retire and go to NBC Sports as a broadcaster for all of their football games.
Going into the 2021 season, they let Sanders go to the Bills and started Jameis Winston at quarterback. And before he got hurt in a Week 8 game against Tampa Bay, he had actually been having a very good season. At that point in the season, Winston had 14 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Winston’s problem had always been throwing too many interceptions, even if he threw for a lot of yards and touchdowns. He fixed that in 2021 and no one is talking about it. In fact, if kept going on that pace over a 17 game season, Winston would have thrown for 34 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. While he would have only thrown for just over 2800 yards, it was a drastic improvement for Winston.
And the Saints were winning under Winston. They were 5-2. However, they went 4-6 without him, and missed the playoffs by tiebreaker. But they showed they had the talent. Going into the offseason, New Orleans knew that they were just a couple pieces away from making this team a true contender. And they made those moves this offseason!
New Orleans signed Chiefs safety and 3x All Pro player, Tyraan Mathieu, to a 3 year, $28.3 million contract. Mathieu replaces Marcus Williams, who left on a 5 year deal to Baltimore. However, Mathieu is much better than Williams. He is probably the best safety in the game. He is going to improve this secondary. And they also promoted one of their former secondary coaches to head coach, Dennis Allen, after Sean Payton announced his temporary retirement. Allen had been New Orleans secondary coach from 2008-2010, winning the Super Bowl in 2009 and ranking 3rd in interceptions. He then came back to New Orleans in 2015 and was promoted to defensive coordinator. And since he was promoted, the Saints rank 7th in the NFL in opponent points allowed per game.
They also made some big moves on the offensive side of the ball. They drafted Ohio State phenom WR, Chris Olave #11 overall and also selected OT Trevor Penning, #19 overall. Both players will probably have very important roles in this upcoming NFL season. They also signed Jarvis Landry to about a 1 year, $3 million deal that is worth up to $6 million. This is a steal. Landry is a 5x Pro Bowler who just a couple of seasons ago had over an 1100 yard receiving campaign. Landry is a very good wide receiver, and would fit very well as a #2 next to Michael Thomas if he stays healthy.
However, there are some other, more negative things, that have to be talked about with the New Orleans Saints. Alvin Kamara attacked a stranger around the time of the Pro Bowl, and will have possibly a 6 game suspension for it. I don’t want to get into the legal part about this on whether he is or should get suspended, but right now the suspension happening is a question mark. This would be really bad for the Saints and really bad for my keeper fantasy league 🤣. Kamara is coming off of a season where he had 898 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. He is also a very good receiving back, receiving 439 yards in 2021. He did this in a season where he only played 13 games, and if he kept this pace, he would have had 1,174 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns, while getting 574 receiving yards.
But what about Jameis Winston? Even though he improved last season, there are some things to look at. #1, the running game was amazing. New Orleans ranked 9th in rushing yards per game in the stretch that Winston played. But, if Kamara get suspended, defenses are going to set their game plan more around Winston over the first 6 games of the season. Also, according to Stat Muse, Winston ranked dead last in yards per attempt for any quarterback last season. That was why he was only on pace for not even 3,000 passing yards, which would also rank him dead last in the NFL over a 17 game season and that’s if he continued on that pace.
What people don’t realize about those stats is that you can not rely on Winston to help you out. If New Orleans’ defense is playing well, the running game is exceeding expectations and the opposing defense is worrying about either the run or the deep pass, then Winston can play well. That’s very specific. And with a possible Alvin Kamara suspension, Winston could start off the season playing like a 3rd string quarterback. You can’t rely on Winston. Let’s look at Super Bowl winning quarterbacks over since Super Bowl 48:
2021: Matthew Stafford (reliable)
2020: Tom Brady (reliable)
2019: Patrick Mahomes (reliable)
2018: Tom Brady (reliable)
2017: Carson Wentz (reliable in 2017)
2016: Tom Brady (reliable)
2015: Peyton Manning (injured – hard to tell)
2014: Tom Brady (reliable)
2013: Russell Wilson (reliable)
All of these quarterbacks were reliable. You can win games and even make the playoffs with a serviceable quarterback. However come postseason time, if you have that kind of quarterback, you’re going nowhere (unless you’re the 2000 Ravens with Trent Dilfer even though that Ravens team had arguably the best defense in NFL history). It’s hard. It’s rare. I don’t trust Winston come postseason time. And frankly, not even in the regular season. With a possible Kamara suspension, an injury prone Michael Thomas and Winston at quarterback, there are too many things that can hold this team back from any sort of a deep playoff run!
My prediction: New Orleans possibly sneaks into the playoffs, but gets destroyed in the Wild Card round!
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