Blogging The Boys: How has the offense changed under Teddy Bridgewater and what have you thought of his performance in the time he’s played this season?
Canal Street Chronicles: It’s really hard to say. He came in early against the Los Angeles Rams when the game script was developed for Drew Brees. Last week was the first full game he’s had for the Saints, and if attributing a grade I’d give him anywhere from a C+ to A-. He did what was asked of him, but was also fortunate the box score wasn’t a little worse. He had one throw get away from him a bit and another ill-advised through that could have gone for an interception. It was just one game, but Sean Payton clearly wanted Teddy to be able to make quick throws and let his talented skills players get yards after the catch.
I imagine now that there’s film on that style of play in existence, Payton will change it up a bit this week against Dallas. I expect the plays to be designed in a way for Teddy to be able to make quick reads to open receivers, but I anticipate we’ll see more balls thrown in front of the line of scrimmage this time.
BTB: With Mark Ingram gone, how has that changed the role of the running game and Alvin Kamara? Now that he’s the indisputable lead back and how is he performing in the new role?
CSC: You could argue Kamara was already the “lead back” in 2018, but the amount of snaps he’s ceding to other running backs in 2019 has definitely decreased. How is he performing in 2019? So far so good. He’s averaging 130 yards of offense each week (Zeke is averaging 107 for reference), and typically looks like the best player on the field when the ball is in his hands.
BTB: Talk about the Saints passing attack outside of Michael Thomas. We all know how good he is, but what about the rest of the unit?
CSC: Well, it depends on what you mean by “passing attack.” If you mean just the wide receivers, it’s essentially Michael Thomas, occasionally Ted Ginn Jr., and then a whole bunch of question marks. Second year WR Keith Kirkwood was placed on IR before last week’s game, and former 3rd round pick Tre’Quan Smith missed last week due to injury and has still yet to return to practice. The Saints have activated a pair of UDFAs in Austin Carr and Lil’Jordan Humphrey, the latter from your neck of the woods at Texas. It’s still to-be-determined with what Lil’Jordan can bring to the Saints offense.
That being said, you can’t ignore what Alvin Kamara brings to the passing game, and TE Jared Cook is an above-average pass-catcher himself. So while the Saints wide receiver corps leaves a lot to be desired, the entire group of Saints pass-catchers is nothing to scoff at.
BTB: What’s your take on the Saints defense so far this season. There are some stats that show they are not having a great year. What’s your take?
CSC: They’ve improved each week. DT David Onyemata missed the first game of the season due to suspension, but he’s look great since returning. DT Sheldon Rankins should be returning from a torn Achilles any second now, and DE Cam Jordan is still a beast at getting after opposing quarterbacks. Last year’s first round pick Marcus Davenport has been making strides, and the Saints secondary has been playing better than the box score could make you believe. There have been multiple injuries at linebacker, and outside of Demario Davis - who is exceptional - the Saints linebackers are largely the weakest unit of the Saints defense.
It’s important to note, though, that Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen has shown a knack for starting slow in the season and getting his group to improve as the year goes on. In the same way, his units likewise tend to start slow in a given week, but usually make significant adjustments at halftime.
BTB: How do you see game playing out and who will win?
CSC: Before the season started, I predicted the Saints would win this game. Obviously missing Drew Brees hurts, so it’s hard to still predict a win when you’re out a future Hall of Fame quarterback and one of the greatest to ever play the game. I’ll give an edge to the Cowboys and will predict them to win this game, but even without Brees, I think this Saints team is good enough to keep it competitive. I’ll say 24-17, with the bad guys winning on the heels of a Randall Cobb 125+ yard performance.
Thanks for the knowledge, Canal Street Chronicles.