5 Positives/Negatives From Saints’ Loss To Falcons
Below are five positives, and also five negatives, to take from the New Orleans Saints’ 38-32 road loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon.
The setback means that the Saints have ended the regular season with a 7-9 record, and out of the playoffs, for the third-consecutive season.
1)—Drew Brees: He completed 29-of-50 passes for 350 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 5,208 passing yards and 37 touchdowns for the season. This marks the fifth time that Brees has thrown for over 5,000 yards in a single season, and the first time since 2013. His 5,208 passing yards are the second-most in his career. He had his best season since 2013, and proved that, even at age 37, that he has a lot of good football left in him.
2)—Michael Thomas: As he has been all year, Thomas was really good on Sunday, catching 10 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown. For the season, Thomas finished with 92 receptions for 1,137 yards and 9 touchdowns, which are all franchise records for a rookie. He looks like a special player, who will only get better.
3)—Mark Ingram: He carried the ball 20 times for 103 yards and a touchdown, giving him 1,043 rushing yards for the season. With that total, Ingram became the first Saint since 2006 to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. Ingram had his best season this year, averaging 5.1 yards-per-carry.
4)—Craig Robertson: He had seven tackles, which led the team. Robertson turned out to be a terrific offseason acquisition, leading the team with 115 tackles, including 71 solo tackles, to go along with one sack and one interceptions. You could not have realistically asked more from him this season.
5)—Offensive Line: Yes, Brees was sacked two times, but the patch-work offensive line still provided him enough time so that he could throw for 350 yards. They also opened a number of holes for the running backs, who finished with 132 rushing yards. Considering the injuries, along with the production they gave on Sunday, I thought the offensive line played about as well as could be realistically expected. This group was a lot better than expected this year, and they deserve props.
1)—Coby Fleener: It sure looked like a touchdowns catch by Fleener in the first quarter. The bottom line however, is that it wasn't. Fleener finished the game with 3 catches for 38 yards, and finished out a very disappointing season, in which he caught 50 pass for 531 yards ad 3 touchdowns. You would hope he has better days ahead, but that might be being optimistic.
2)—Defensive Line: Arguably the worst performance by this group all year. The Falcons ran the football for 142 yards, and just shredded the Saints' front in the first half. Really no pressure on Matt Ryan to speak of either. The defensive line had some moments this season, but they were bad on Sunday.
3)—Secondary: You have to take into account that the Saints were really playing without their two starting corners, in Delvin Breaux and P.J. Williams, on Sunday, as well as Ken Crawley, and safety Kenny Vaccaro. That being said, they offered zero resistance to the Falcons in the first half, who just picked apart the secondary. Rayn threw for 331 yards and 4 touchdowns, and had things way too easy, especially in the first half.
4)—Linebacker Coverage: Overall, it was not a good performance by the linebacking corp, especially in the coverage department. Devonta Freeman caught 5 passes for 81 yards, while Tevin Coleman added another 3 catches for 15 yards and a touchdown. These two hurt the Saints in the first meeting, and Sunday was more of the same.
5)—7-9 Again: With the loss, the Saints finish the year at 7-9 for a third-consecutive season. Now, I think the Saints have improved. I think this year's team is a lot better than the 2014-2015 editions. That being said, they end their season with a third-season losing record, while missing the playoffs for a third-straight year, and fourth time in the last five years.