After an abysmal 1-4 start under the new coaching regime, the gritty New Orleans Saints have fought their way to a 7-6 record by cutting down on the turnovers, and playing fundamental, opportunistic defense. With an opportunity to sneak into the playoffs as the season winds down, let’s analyze just how the Saints have turned their season around.
While struggling early, the Saints have leaned on their defense as of late, only allowing 21 points a game since week 6, an amazing turnaround from the 34 points allowed per game week 1-5 The top ten ranked defense is led by its trio of secondary defenders Chauncey Gardner – Johnson , Marcus Williams , and Daryl Worley. They have been the heart and soul of the defense, with over 180 tackles and 20 interceptions combined on the season. These numbers become even more impressive taking into account the lack of pass rush (13 sacks) on the season. When asked about his defensive leaders, Coach GoneTellYa praised the trio, while remaining realistic about the job ahead of the team. “CGJ, Worley and Marcus have been terrific for us, but if we want to remain in the playoff conversation we have to continue to play complementary football and improve in each area of the game.”
Offensively, scoring has been an issue for the Saints all season long, ranking 28th in points per game (25.1) While second year quarterback Trey Lance has cut down on turnovers from his rookie season, he still remains negative in his touchdown to turnover ratio (17 TD 22 INT). Lance has been seemingly afraid to pull the trigger at times and has had some costly turnovers during the season; even being benched during several games this season. One consistently bright spot on the offense has been the offensive line, giving up only 6 sacks all season and habitually creating running lanes for running back Alvin Kamara. It is obvious that an improvement to the passing game will be paramount for the Saints to lock up a playoff spot.