It was two drives and one pass in the fourth quarter against the Falcons. That’s what enabled the Saints to escape Atlanta with what’s still its lone victory.
A couple of strong drives in the first and third quarter against Tampa produced only three points, ending in a frustrating loss in a turnover-riddled fourth quarter. TOs and penalties again ruled the day in Week 3, that time in Charlotte and a loss to the Panthers.
We are not even really talking about full quarters of strong play but specific instances within a quarter. I believe, and we can all agree, that is not the recipe for success.
THE GAME | Vikings (2-1) vs Saints (1-2)
- When: 8:30 a.m. (central), Sunday, Oct. 2
- Where: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
- Betting: Saints +3
- TV: WWL (locally); NFL Network
- Listen: WWL AM-870; FM-105.3 & the Audacy app
It’s just an unfamiliar position for this franchise to lead the NFL in all the wrong categories. The Saints offense is No. 32 in the league with nine turnovers through three games. They have the worst turnover differential in the league at minus-6. They have thrown the most interceptions and also lead the league with four fumbles. If those numbers were a recipe for gumbo, you’d have started by burning the roux. You can’t save a gumbo after burning the roux, don’t try, don’t kid yourself. You know that smell. Start over.
The Saints can’t start over, but their offensive ills can be fixed. I say offensive because the defense is playing well enough to win games and clearly good enough to keep them in games. They have already proven that.
My esteemed colleague Deuce McAllister said it best earlier this week here in London as we were discussing the offensive travails and a growing injury list: It’s not so much the players, but what they’re doing with the plays. I know it’s a boring take, but if the players can execute a play without executing themselves, they can win games.
In the end it doesn’t matter what players are on the field if you’re beating yourself, anybody can do that.
Let’s go back to the turnovers for a moment. Last year through three games the Saints were plus-5 in turnover margin, picking off six passes. They started 2-1. This year after three games again, minus-6 in the turnover margin. Whether you look at it as more takeaways or fewer giveaways, that’s a difference of 11 turnovers from 2021 to 2022. With those numbers you can make a solid case the Saints are fortunate to be 1-2.
And we’ll wrap up our “beating yourself” segment with the penalty issue. The Saints are not the worst in the NFL, but they’re not far off. Only the Denver Broncos have more penalties (30) than the Saints (24). That’s an average of eight penalties a game. You know the routine by now. A recipe for success? It is not.
But it’s only a recipe. It’s words on a page, just like plays in the playbook. Follow the instructions and do it carefully. Don’t beat yourself with penalties and turnovers. Right the ship. There you go, problem solved.
Who Dats will need to be up early on gameday and grab a pint (of anything you want) and let’s get a win. And when I get back from London, I now know the first thing that I’m going to do.
I’m making gumbo and as always, be careful with the roux.