Saints writer calls Week 3 matchup with Falcons a must-win

John and Hugh
September 21, 2018 - 1:16 pm
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara

© Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

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On The Morning Show with John Fricke and ugh Douglas, the guys spoke with Saints.com senior writer John DeShazier.  

The guys traded a few good-natured barbs before talking about the difference in the Saints running game without Mark Ingram.  

“It is, but it isn’t [a point of contention],” DeShazier said, “It is because of the production you see on paper, but Alvin Kamara has 15 receptions for 165 yards and a lot of that is essentially long handoffs [as] part of the run games."

DeShazier explained that when the Saints can't get between the tackles or run on the edge they try and get Kamara the ball on screen passes or swing routes. The Saints, over the years, have used screens and swing passes as an extension of the run game.

"However, last year, the way they ran the ball with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, it allowed them to control the clock a lot of the game and gave them more offensive balance. ... When they’ve been a winning team, the attempts have been up.  They only had 13 rushing attempts in the season opener against Tampa Bay and then they got it up to 23 last week against Cleveland.  If they’re in the 25-32 range, they feel pretty good because they feel like they’re pretty balanced.  If you got Drew Brees throwing 45-50 times, and you’re only running it 18, 17, that’s not a good balance on any Sunday."

When the Saints have been an unbalanced team, head coach Sean Payton told DeShazier that when New orleans is a .500 team. The Saints want to be a more balanced offense and want to get the rushing attempts up.

Even though there’s a lot of football left to be played, is this a ‘must win’ for New Orleans? 

“I think so,” DeShazier said, “When you’re the Saints... they're 1-1 and have already lost one game in the division, you don’t want to be 1-2 and both those losses be in the division. This is a volatile division and it’s rare that a team repeats as division champs. If you're two games in the hole in this division it's tough to climb out.”  

Did you think we’d be talking about Tampa Bay as the class of the division?

“Who’d figure that? The No. 1 overall pick, your quarterback is suspended the first three games, and don’t get me wrong Ryan Fitzpatrick has been in the league for 14 years. But 2-0 and the way that they’ve won. … and you’re hearing whispers behind the scenes that they kind of like him [Fitzpatrick] a whole lot. That ain't saying they don't like Jameis [Winston], but that ain't saying they love him as much as they like Fitzpatrick.

DeShazier says they're getting the ball to DeSean Jackson more now and that opens up the Bucs.
  
Without Deion Jones on the sidelines, do you think Drew Brees try to exploit that absence?  

“The Saints, offensively, didn’t do anything offensively last week to be feeling chesty about,” DeShazier said.  “They didn’t roll up 300 yards [of offense] against Cleveland, they struggled and left a couple of touchdowns on the field. ... Now saying that, not having Deion Jones and not having Keanu Neal is big.  If there’s a mismatch, he [Brees] is capable of finding it."