By Josh Barrett
I’m not going to be that guy who speculates about whether or not the New Orleans Saints should get rid of head coach Sean Payton (they shouldn’t), and who they should hire if they do (Les Miles), but it appears that our beloved Black & Gold are relegating themselves to NFL purgatory as their mismatched role players continue shelling out putrid performances.
A 39-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles this week dropped the Saints to 1-4, effectively eliminating their wildest dreams of making the playoffs in a division with two undefeated teams.
Brandon Browner recorded the first interception by a Saint this season when Sam Bradford tried to force the ball to Riley Cooper in the back right corner of the end zone. A couple of tough runs from Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson and a 20 yard pass to Brandin Cooks set up a wide open Benjamin Watson for a dump off touchdown from Drew Brees, giving the Saints an early 7-0 lead.
Josh Huff capped off a 41 yard catch-n-run in the second quarter with a flip into the end zone that tied the game. After a Drew Brees fumble gave the Eagles exceptional starting field position, a bizarre unsportsmanlike penalty on the Philadelphia coaching staff backed the birds up to midfield with 1:12 left in the half, forcing them to settle for a 39 yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis.
Marcus Murphy returned the opening kickoff of the second half for the Saints to the 25-yard line; then a 46-yard reception by Brandin Cooks set up Zach Hocker for a 21-yard field goal, re-tying the game.
This is the point in the game where everything falls apart.
A myriad of fumbles and sacks would help the Eagles go on to score 29 unanswered points until Brees connected with Cooks for a 14-yard touchdown on the last play of the game.
Fletcher Cox and former LSU Tiger, Bennie Logan, let loose the hounds of hell all day against the Saints patchwork offensive line, combining for ten tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles.
Despite leaving Philadelphia with a loss, garbage time helped Brees & Co. pad their stats, so it wasn’t a total waste for fantasy football fans. Brees was Brees, passing for 335 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and two fumbles.
Ingram improved upon his YPC, but was unable to find the end zone this week, tallying 74 total yards. The biggest producer of the day however was the second smallest man on the field, Brandin Cooks. Cooks, coming off an ankle injury, took his five receptions, and turned them into 107 yards and a score.
All of that being said, I think it’s officially time to declare, he who hails from Ball (Out) State, Willie Snead, as the unofficial number one receiver on the roster after he exploded onto the scene for 141 yards on six receptions.
The Saints take on the undefeated Falcons at home, in the dome, this Thursday. This game might not be over before it starts, however, as the Falcons struggled to beat the team from Washington this week, relying on a Robert Alford 59-yard interception return for a touchdown in overtime to keep their clean sheet.
My prediction: 34-21, Atlanta Falcons