NEW ORLEANS —
Special teams, special teams and special teams.
Yes, I said special teams three times because that’s how many games they’ve cost the New Orleans Saints this season. It’s about time for Sean Payton to look deep and hard at special teams.
Another Wil Lutz field goal was, once again, blocked and returned this week. Luckily, the block in the back stopped it from being the third one returned for points.
The field goal unit is having serious issues, whether it’s a low kick by Lutz, which he’s done a few times this season, or poor blocking. Thursday’s blocked field goal turned into a last second touchdown for the Panthers — points the Saints couldn’t afford to give up in that game.
It doesn’t stop there on special teams. They also have a hard time in the return game.
Marcus Murphy takes in a kickoff near the sideline instead of letting it go out of bounds. The Saints started at their own 1 yard line and were forced to punt, giving the Panthers great field position. What did the Panthers do with it? They scored points thanks to a Graham Gano field goal. Might I add once again, three points the Saints didn’t need to give up when you look at the final score.
So when you look at it this season, they lost to the New York Giants thanks to a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. They lost to the Denver Broncos on a blocked extra-point returned for two points.
Payton needs to do something, whether change coaches, schemes or personnel. I don’t know what he wants or needs to do, but something needs to happen because it’s just too sloppy on special teams. The Saints’ special teams have really only been special for opposing teams.
Hey, it’s not only the special teams contributing to the Saints woes this season. How about all the turnovers in some of these close losses. They turned it over six times in the last two games. Drew Brees’ committed two in the loss to the Panthers. Those six turnovers accounted for 23 points. If you throw in the blocked field goal and blocked extra point, that’s nine more points. How bothersome is that if you’re the Saints? You’ve given the opponent 32 points in the last two games. I think that would drive me just as crazy as the special teams if I’m Payton or Brees.
The funny thing about their loss to the Panthers, if you looked at all the stats without looking at the final score, you would have thought the Saints won that game by 14 points. Of course, the only stat that mattered was the one that said turnovers. Brees had a fumble and interception that were costly as I already mentioned.
Look, the defense played a pretty good game for the most part. They unfortunately spent most of the first half on the wrong side of the 50 yard line. The one bad play was having linebacker Craig Robertson on Panthers receiver Ted Ginn Jr. on that touchdown before the half. Honestly, Robertson was in great coverage, Ginn just made a good play to haul in that pass from Cam Newton. The defense was applying pressure for most of the game, leaving Newton uncomfortable. The Saints held the Panthers to 223 total yards. I know the Panthers don’t have a high powers offense, but the Saints held them to 3.6 yards per play and 1.9 rushing yards per carry. The defense has really stepped up its productivity the last two games and they will need that with six games left.
You have to understand the margin of error for this team is very slim. They just can’t afford any of these mistakes and turnovers. The Saints have now lost five games by a total of 15 points. I find that very mind blowing, but that’s the difference of being 6-4 or 7-3 instead of the Saints’ current 4-6 record. The Saints will probably be kicking themselves at the end of the season if they finish 8-8 or 7-9, after blowing some of those games.
Keep up with local news, weather and current events with the WDSU app here. Sign up for our email newsletters to get breaking news right in your inbox. Click here to sign up!
Let’s block ads! (Why?)