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The Fleur-De-Lis Report: What's Next for the Saints after the Disastrous Loss to the Cardinals

1 year 8 months 1 day ago Sunday, October 23 2022 Oct 23, 2022 October 23, 2022 10:59 AM October 23, 2022 in Sports
Source: WBRZ
Image: NFL.com

The New Orleans Saints’ (2-5) season is all but over following yet another crushing loss this past Thursday to the Arizona Cardinals (3-4). The team is in complete disarray and with just 10 games remaining in the season, the Saints leave little to nothing to look forward to in the foreseeable future.

DISASTER IN THE DESERT 

Just looking at the team statistics from Thursday’s game, you’d thought the Saints won by double digits. New Orleans out-gained the Cardinals in several statistical categories including total offense, passing yards, first downs, and 3rd down efficiency. Despite all of that, turnovers, missed opportunities, and a poor defensive effort led them to a 42-34 loss. 

Things started well for the Saints with Andy Dalton completing a 53 yard pass to Rashid Shaheed for a touchdown on the opening drive. That was the first time this season the Saints have scored on their first possession. Dalton’s first of three interceptions came after a long 8-minute drive as they were threatening to score. However despite that, the Saints still managed to hold Arizona to a pair of field goals and score another touchdown to extend their lead 14 to 6. Subsequently, the Cardinals cooled off the Saints momentum by tying the game at 14 after a long drive of their own.

But the game was ultimately lost right before halftime when Dalton threw two back to back pick sixes, causing a seismic shift in momentum for the Cardinals. From there, everything went downhill for the Saints. At a certain point, they trailed by as much as 18 points. They'd manage to score a few more times to cut the deficit to 8 but their efforts would all be in vain as time expired. 

Nearly everything dooming the Saints this season came to fruition in this game. They added to their already league worst turnover differential (-10) with those 3 interceptions. They led the game in penalties with 8 for 49 yards. And the defense gave up several big plays and struggled to tackle yet again. This loss also brings Dennis Allen to 10-33 all-time as a head coach. 

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

At this point, the season is pretty much over for the Saints. Their chances at making the playoffs with a 2-5 record is about 11% with a 6% chance at winning the division. New Orleans would have to win 7 of their last 10 games just to get back the record they had last year, which is 9-8. And with juggernauts like Baltimore, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, and Philadelphia still on the schedule, that just seems like wishful thinking. The reality is this will likely be a losing season.

Looking at the short term picture, the Saints will have the extended week to prepare for their matchup against the Raiders. The Raiders are under-performing this season but I believe they are much better than their record shows. They have talent all over the field including the best receiver in football paired with a quality quarterback in Derek Carr. They’ve been on the cusp of every game they've lost and could easily be 5-0 right now. Despite being 1-4, I think the Raiders will be a force too much for Saints to handle. 

That game is next Sunday at noon. 

Looking at the long term picture, the Saints are in trouble. The team is about to miss the playoffs, likely with a losing record, with no 2023 first round pick and no 2024 second round pick. So they’re basically losing for nothing. They are $53 million over the projected salary cap with several players due for extensions in the next few years.  They don’t have a franchise quarterback. The defense is aging with two of its best players both turning 34 years old next season. And any ‘trade assets' they have is almost untradeable when you consider their lucrative contacts.  This is the new reality for the New Orleans Saints. They are in a very dark situation not seen since before the Payton-Brees era. 

This team mortgaged the future for a championship during Brees’ final years. They came close but ultimately fell short of a second Super Bowl. Now the Saints are paying a hefty price. A rebuild is imminent and judging by the team's current situation, I’d get ready to stock up on paper bags.

FINALS THOUGHTS

Thursday was a new low for Saints in a season filled with lows but perhaps the lowest moment was Dennis Allen’s press conference after the game. He blamed the team’s lack of success on injury. While I’ll agree that injury has played a factor, I'd hardly call it the biggest issue plaguing this ball club. 

Dennis Allen’s team is simply not well coached or disciplined. Injuries have nothing to do with being dead last in turnover differential. The Saints have given the ball away 16 times (9 INTs, 7 FUMs) with only 6 takeaways (1 INT, 5 FUMs). Injuries have nothing to do with being the second most penalized team in football. They’ve committed 52 penalties for a total of 459 yards. The only team worse are the Denver Broncos. Injuries have nothing to do with the defense being a poor tackling team and giving up big plays in key moments. You can chalk both the Carolina and Cincinnati games up to that. Injuries have nothing to do with the offense being so one dimensional and relying almost exclusively on Taysom Hill. Hill has been a one man show and the offense is nearly twice as productive when he touches the ball in comparison to when he doesn’t. All these problems are on coaching and guys not executing when it matters.

The issues facing the Saints are so systemic and go far beyond a few guys being hurt. It was so discouraging to hear Dennis Allen deflect from the bigger problems that he's directly responsible for correcting. Alvin Kamara spoke up by saying this isn’t Saints football but in actuality, it is. The Saints enjoyed over 15 years of prosperity with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history and a top notch head coach. Those days are long over. At this point, the Saints are exactly what their record shows…a sub-par football team. 

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Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter @Chris_Lunkin98 for weekly content and up to the minute updates on your New Orleans Saints. 

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