Saints vs Jaguars: 7 Things We Learned About the Saints In 23-10 Win
By the numbers, the Saints had only a mediocre showing. Against a better team you could make an argument that the Saints would not have been able to eke out a win.
Still, no matter how messy a win is a win in the NFL, and the Saints have walked away the victors of this match.
As we wrap up with Week 4 in the NFL, here are seven observations about the Saints that may be significant moving forward.
Marques Colston Made a Difference Just by Being There
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It’s not that Marques Colston made a huge difference in terms of receiving yards or touchdown receptions. He’s not a first choice target for Drew Brees, or even a second or third choice.
His presence on the field today was important to the offense in a more intangible way.
Anytime a team leader such as Colston falls to injury, it impacts the entire team in small ways.
A quick recovery from a major injury is a gift-wrapped momentum-builder for the whole team. Given the injuries that have plagued the Saints thus far this year, any sign of recovery is a bonus.
By suiting up and making a few receptions, Colston gave the entire offense a boost.
Penalties Are Killing the Saints
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At the end of the day, the Saints had a total of six penalties for 50 yards. The vast majority of those were on defense.
Particularly during the fourth quarter, it seemed that every time the Saints managed to shut down the Jaguars offense, and once and for all, they would shoot themselves in the foot with yet another penalty.
It may not have come back to cost them the game this time, but this type of behavior can easily develop into a problem as the season progresses. The Saints need to figure out how to rein in the penalties.
The Defense Got Major Pressure
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The Saints defense really stepped up today against the pass.
With three official sacks and several other hurry-ups and knockdowns, strong safety Roman Harper and defensive end Will Smith were able to successfully disrupt Blaine Gabbert as the game chugged forward.
The whole defense did a great job of getting to Gabbert, disrupting his rhythm to the tune of only single-digit completions in the second half.
They were a little bit less successful against the running game, allowing just over 100 yards on the ground, but it’s clear that if you take out a few huge runs by Maurice Jones-Drew, the numbers are much more palatable.
Fourth Down Stops Boosted Momentum at Key Moments
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The first time, it happened early in the first quarter. The Saints’ first fourth-down stop against the Jaguars was a huge moment in the game.
It really shifted the momentum in the favor of the Saints, taking the wind out of the Jaguars’ sails for the entire first quarter to allow the Saints to jump out to an early lead.
Late in the game, the Saints made it happen three times more, stopping the Jaguars on three consecutive stalled drives.
If any of those fourth-down attempts had been successful, the Jaguars likely would have had extra points on the board to bring the game into closer contention. That is, of course, in addition to the probable huge momentum shifts and a renewed crowd presence.
Instead, the Saints defense stepped up and showed their dominance, and shut the Jaguars down on all four fourth-down attempts to retain control of the game.
Darren Sproles Is Something Really Special
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Coming into the game, Darren Sproles was the Saints’ No. 1 receiver. He’s the Saints’ not-so-secret weapon on kickoff and punt returns.
Yet he’s a running back.
A fabulous all-around player, Darren Sproles continued to put up huge numbers for the Saints offense. He was never quite able to get into the red zone, but he set the team up to score on two huge plays.
He may not be the Saints first choice of running back right now, but with an average of more than 10 yards per carry this week, you can bet that he’ll see more touches as we move further into the season.
The Saints' Three Running Backs Might Be One Too Manny
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Speaking of running backs, it’s becoming clear that the Saints are facing an intriguing problem.
Both of those men have their own areas of specialization, although they have been somewhat overshadowed by the commanding performance Sproles has churned out thus far this season.
Juggling three talented runningbacks and Drew Brees is a little bit like having too many great players on a fantasy football team and not enough slots to play them.
Sean Payton has an embarrassment of riches on offense—you could make an argument for too many. How can he possibly feature any of his four talented offensive leaders any more than he currently is?
Drew Brees Was off His Game
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Two interceptions. Two sacks and a whole bunch of scrambles.
Only one touchdown throw.
This is not the Drew Brees that we have come to know.
The Saints struggled today offensively, never quite seeming to click despite the poor defensive showing by the Jaguars. Despite some big plays, Brees and his wide receivers weren’t able to come up with the magic that has become so normal.
Hopefully the offense can sort it all out in time for next week’s battle against the Carolina Panthers.