Turn the Page on 2022 New Orleans Saints: Numbers Don’t Lie

New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton (14) is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith during the first half in Pittsburgh. Photo Credit: Don Wright / AP

The New Orleans Saints have hit a new low.

At 3-7, it’s time to turn the page on this season. Rip the Band-Aid off now.

Face facts and admit that these Saints are not going anywhere in 2022, and major changes are needed – starting at the top with Dennis Allen. It’s their worst start since the Hurricane Katrina season 2005.

The Saints have been lifeless for two games in a row. First the Monday Night Football beatdown by the Ravens, then Sunday’s lifeless show at Pittsburgh.

Seems hard to believe Sunday’s game was tied 10-10. Andy Dalton even led a nice 2-minute drill before halftime.

But after receiving the second half kickoff, the Saints did absolutely nothing.

Why don’t we let the numbers tell the story?


Bad teams do bad things.

The Saints are the third-most penalized team in the NFL, averaging 7.2 penalties per game. This can’t happen 10 weeks into the season if they hope to win consistently.

Dennis Allen’s response?

“It’s disappointing.”

We’ll get them corrected.”

He doesn’t get it.

Don’t get me wrong, Dennis Allen thrived as Saints’ defensive coordinator. I think the Saints should’ve kept him in that role.

Back to Sunday, six defensive penalties gave the Steelers first downs. But it’s not just on defense.

The Saints’ first drive of each half began with – you guessed it – penalties. Offensive guard Calvin Throckmorton leads the team with five false starts on the year. That’s a lot of mistakes.

They’re simply not resilient enough to overcome these crucial errors week after week.

Team leader Cam Jordan put it bluntly, “It’s a disgusting feeling. We have to find our way, or this is going to be the result of every game.”


Najee Harris and the Pittsburgh Steelers ran for 217 yards Sunday. The New Orleans Saints mustered just 29 yards as a team. Photo Credit: Getty Images

So much for Alvin Kamara’s breakout performance against the Raiders (who are now 2-7).

The Saints’ 29 rushing yards at Pittsburgh were their fewest in nearly 12 years.

They had 27 rushing yards in a 30-24 loss to the Ravens on Dec. 19, 2010 (thanks to Jeff Duncan for that ugly statistic). It’s only the 11th time in team history when they’ve run for fewer than 30 yards in a game.

Not surprisingly, they’ve lost all 11 times.

On the other hand, the Steelers had a season-high 217 rushing yards on 43 attempts (5.0 yards per carry).

Time of possession tells a similar story:

  • Steelers 38:56
  • Saints 21:04

The Steelers sustained drives against the Saints’ defense (28 first downs to the Saints’ 10). The formula for winning football games is pretty simple – players have to do their jobs. Don’t commit penalties, and take care of the football.

Speaking of that…


The Saints sit in the cellar of the NFC South, and they also remain last in the NFL in some other grim categories:

  • Giveaways (19)
  • Turnover margin (-12)
  • Defensive interceptions (2).

Former Saint and current Eagles safety CJ Gardner-Johnson racked up his sixth interception last night. That leads the NFL

Anybody else sick?

Jan. 1 in Philadelphia should be quite the rematch. Too bad nothing will be on the line.

Remarkably, the Saints are favored in Week 11 against the Rams.

When I saw Dennis Allen’s message for this week, I literally rolled my eyes.

To borrow a line from a famous ESPN segment – Come on, man!

We should have heard this much, much earlier – after the Bengals game a month ago. Instead, because the Saints are still “mathematically alive” in the playoff chase, we’ve heard nothing but rosy optimism from Dennis Allen.

Meanwhile the Saints are missing tackles, committing turnovers and penalties, and looking out of position and uninspired overall.

Now the L.A. Rams (3-6) are also going nowhere fast. Cooper Kupp is out Sunday (ankle surgery), and QB Matthew Stafford didn’t play in their loss at Arizona.

But seriously, come on, man. We the fans have clamored for leadership all season long. Can the Saints cobble together a win against another struggling team?

New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen meets with reporters after an NFL football game at Pittsburgh on Sunday, Nov. 13. Photo Credit: Don Wright / AP.


Let me know in the comments below:

  • What change would you like to see the Saints make before the season ends? Is it time to fire coach Dennis Allen and start a fresh coaching search?

Who’s Ready for a Wild Finish in the NFC South?

New Orleans Saints DE Payton Turner sacks Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr. Photo Credit: Michael Johnson / Nola.com

Will the real New Orleans Saints please stand up?

I wrote last week how the Saints were “borderline unwatchable” against Arizona.

What’s the opposite of that? Completely watchable? That’s how the Saints played in their 24-0 shutout of the Raiders.

That dominant winand it was dominant – puts the Saints right in the thick of the NFC South hunt. The leaders are the Falcons at 4-4 (the only division foe the Saints have beaten), the Bucs and Saints are tied at 3-5, and the Panthers are 2-6 after an overtime heartbreaker Sunday.

Everybody plays each other one more time. Buckle up.

If you’re like me, with Thanksgiving around the corner, you’re starting to think about ingredients to cook your favorite recipes. So here are two key ingredients for the Saints to keep winning.


If you need a reminder of how strong the Saints’ defense was against the Raiders, it’s this statistic right here:

The Raiders didn’t cross midfield until 2:25 remained in the game.

Derek Carr wasn’t even in at QB anymore; it was Jarrett Stidham in relief. Say no more.

We wanted to see that “swagger” from the whole Saints team, but especially the defense – and boy did they bring it. The energy was palpable, especially after each of their 4 sacks, two by Payton Turner and one by David Onyemata.

That brings their season sack total up to a much more respectable 19, but who’s counting?

A few more nuggets for the defense to use for motivation as Monday night’s home game against Baltimore and QB Lamar Jackson looms:

  • They held Raiders RB Josh Jacobs to 43 rushing yards. But we know the Ravens are a different beast with Lamar Jackson. And the Saints aren’t the best at defending dual-threat QBs even when they’re a highly-ranked defense. (Cue bad memories of Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen last season). The run defense needs to show up again – the Ravens average 165.6 yards rushing per game and 5.7 yards per carry.
  • CB Alontae Taylor kept Davante Adams in check (1 catch for 3 yards). He’s definitely one to keep watching.
  • The Saints won the turnover battle thanks to Tyrann Mathieu’s second-quarter interception (he dropped another one on the Raiders’ final drive), and equally as important, the offense capitalized off the turnover with a touchdown – not a field goal. That’s the complementary football they need to win the NFC South.


New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) eludes Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Divine Deablo (5). Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY

Alvin Kamara woke up big time Sunday.

He scored all three of the Saints’ touchdowns and racked up 158 total yards.

As a whole, the Saints were as balanced as it gets on offense.

32 rushes for 136 yards. 31 passes for 231 yards.

Controlling the clock 34:51 to 25:09.

QB Andy Dalton was not sacked.

But – the elephant in the room. Injuries at WR.

Dennis Allen announced today Michael Thomas is officially on IR with his toe injury. I don’t think Saints fans anywhere are surprised to see this.

But we have to move on. Thomas has played a grand total of three games this season. Caught 16 passes for 171 yards and 3 TDs.

Hopefully we’ll learn more about Jarvis Landry’s status for Monday night. I’d love to see more production from Rashid Shaheed and of course Taysom Hill in the running & receiving game. Good things happen when he’s on the field.

We talked about the Ravens’ rushing offense earlier, but don’t sleep on the Saints’ rushing attack. They average 141.2 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry through eight games. If the Saints can jump out to a lead Monday like they did against the Raiders, running the ball and chewing up clock with Alvin Kamara’s legs will be their best friend.


We’re almost halfway through the football season – Week 9 starts tonight with the undefeated Eagles facing the Texans. (Could it be a game ripe for an upset?!) I’ve always said Thursday Night Football is the ultimate equalizer. Philadelphia is trying to go 8-0, Houston has the worst rushing defense in the NFL, it’s Jalen Hurts’ homecoming …

OK, back to the Saints.

They’re nowhere close to the Eagles in the NFC. However, their goal of winning a division title is still right in front of them. That’s how wild the NFC South is. They got their must-win game. Now it’s time to keep the momentum going and put together a winning streak.

Easier said than done with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens coming to town.

A national TV audience will be watching. Will the Saints be ready Monday night?


Let me know in the comments below:

  • Can the Saints beat the Ravens and gain ground in the NFC South?
  • Who will win the NFC South?

Andy Dalton to Replace Jameis Winston as Saints QB

Matt York / AP Photo

Who cares?

That was literally my thought when I heard Andy Dalton will replace Jameis Winston as starting quarterback for the New Orleans Saints Sunday against the Raiders.

And not just Sunday, but for the foreseeable future.

It’s news, don’t get me wrong. But the quarterback can’t fix this team’s pitiful turnovers and self-destruction all on his own.

The Saints were borderline unwatchable last Thursday night in a loss at Arizona. My friend and columnist Jeff Duncan eloquently wrote that the Saints are everyone’s “get-right” team.

I don’t know how it got this bad this fast, but I do know one thing. Somehow, the Saints could still snag a playoff berth.

But the pressure is on. If they want it bad enough, we need to see passion. Fire. Fundamentals.

Keep reading.


With a win Sunday at Atlanta, the Panthers will be in first place in an unimpressive NFC South.

Need I remind you they fired coach Matt Rhule three weeks ago and have benched Baker Mayfield for P.J. Walker.

Everything the Saints want in the division is still in front of them, remarkably, because doors have been opened by other teams (Tampa Bay Bucs, we’re looking at you).

But the Panthers are no joke. They were 13.5-point underdogs to the Bucs after trading away Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey and still pulled a 21-3 upset. They’re not just a team that’s looking to “keep doing what we’re doing.”

I despise coach-speak.

Interim coach Steve Wilks is restoring pride in the Panthers. Look what Wilks said this week:

“I stood in front of these guys at the beginning when I first took over here, and I said, ‘you know, in order for us to go forward, we are going to have to surrender their individual me for the greater we.’ That’s what it’s all about.”

Wouldn’t it be nice to see a little fire from Dennis Allen? I bet it would translate to the rest of the Saints.

They have born leaders like Demario Davis, who admitted that the team “had to get back to our swagger.”

I know they’re hurt. Michael Thomas is about to miss his fifth game and Jarvis Landry his fourth. I’m sorry – health is no excuse. every NFL team battles injuries.

The Saints have no time to waste.


Cara Owsley / The Enquirer

One more thing: the Saints must correct self-inflicted mistakes.

I’m talking basic fundamentals.

I’ve said it all year – I love the Saints, but they’re simply not good enough to make even one mistake, let alone throw three interceptions if they want to win a game.

Let’s look at their two wins this season.

  1. at Atlanta: turnover margin +1 (1 fumble lost, 2 fumbles recovered)
  2. vs. Seattle: turnover margin -1 (1 fumble lost, 1 Dalton interception, 1 fumble recovered)

How were they able to win vs. Seattle with a negative turnover margin? It wasn’t easy – the Seahawks scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. But the Saints won time of possession by 15 minutes (37:35-22:25), went 3-for-3 in the red zone and rushed for 235 yards (4.9 yards per rush).

We all know red zone efficiency went out the window in Week 6 against the Bengals (1-for-5), when the Saints were +1 in turnover margin but crumbled late.

Turnovers win and lose games. The Saints are dead last in the NFL at -10 total turnover margin and 16 giveaways.

But what’s most striking of all? The giveaways directly led to 28 opponent points. The Saints have been outscored by 25 so far this season.


Until the Saints win a game, my thoughts will be consistent on the quarterback situation.

Who cares?

Whether it’s Andy Dalton or Jameis Winston, the Saints just need a starter who can take care of the football, stick to the fundamentals and execute, especially in the red zone.

Their season depends on it.


Let me know in the comments below:

  • What’s your prediction for Sunday against the Raiders?
  • What about the rest of the NFC South? Are you surprised it’s so mediocre?

New Orleans Saints Playoff Bound for Fourth Straight Year

There’s hardly an opponent the New Orleans Saints enjoy beating more than the NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons, especially with a chance to clinch a playoff berth. Two weeks after sacking Matt Ryan eight times in New Orleans, the Saints escaped Atlanta with their eighth sweep of the “Dirty Birds” since 2006, after a 21-16 victory that was entirely too close for comfort – though if you stop to think about it, it shouldn’t have been that close.

new orleans saints atlanta falcons playoff berth.jpgAs they watch the game film, the Saints, now 10-2 and still atop the NFC, will know exactly why the Falcons hung around. They committed 10 penalties for 79 yards, allowing the Falcons five first downs by penalty.

And despite backup QB Taysom Hill’s overall excellent day, including his first two career touchdown passes, ball security and taking time off the clock are paramount when you’re protecting a 12-point lead:

The Saints were ahead 21-9 early in the fourth quarter. The defense hadn’t allowed a touchdown in 14 straight quarters and had just forced a Matt Ryan fumble at the Atlanta 18-yard line. So Hill and the offense had a chance to pad their lead with at least a field goal. A touchdown might have put the game out of reach the way the defense was dominating yet again.

But instead, trying to avoid a sack, Hill fumbled the ball away – and the Falcons marched down the field 85 yards for a touchdown. How amazing it would have been to keep Atlanta out of the end zone for both games! But getting the win was far more important, as the defense had to step up twice more to finish it off – again in the red zone and finally on a Hail Mary as time expired.

The Saints haven’t to win a heart attack-style game since a 3-point win at Chicago way back on Nov. 1. So what 3 things did we learn from this win that turned into a nail-biter?

Taysom Hill is learning every week.  Sunday was the third straight win with Hill as starter, and he threw his first touchdown passes in four years - to Tre’Quan Smith and Jared Cook - to propel the Saints.  He finished 27-of-37 for 232 yards (105 to Michael Thomas), no interceptions but was sacked twice and lost that crucial fumble.  He also used his legs to rush for 83 yards, including a 43-yard run down the sideline. -
  • Taysom Hill is learning every week. Sunday was the third straight win with Hill as starter, and he threw his first touchdown passes in four years – to Tre’Quan Smith and Jared Cook – to propel the Saints. He finished 27-of-37 for 232 yards (105 to Michael Thomas), no interceptions but was sacked twice and lost that crucial fumble. He also used his legs to rush for 83 yards, including a 43-yard run down the sideline.

Can you believe Sean Payton and the Saints are 8-0 without Drew Brees the past two seasons? Brees is eligible to return in Week 14 at Philadelphia, but it’s certainly not definite. The Eagles are in an identity crisis, so I’d say let Hill go one more week, and focus on a potential Brees return for the marquee matchup Dec. 20 against the 11-1 Kansas City Chiefs. The Saints will need their full arsenal if they want to win that one.

The Saints defense is the main reason they’ve clinched a playoff spot.  Apparently Sean Payton warned his players not to get too caught up in the hype, pulling the old stinky cheese in the locker trick, as Pro Football Talk reported.  Dennis Allen’s defense has put up some incredible numbers in the past five games, allowing just two touchdowns and 44 total points (8.8 ppg), and they’re up to 36 sacks on the year (T-3rd in the NFL).   -
  • The Saints defense is the main reason they’ve clinched a playoff spot. Apparently Sean Payton warned his players not to get too caught up in the hype, pulling the old stinky cheese in the locker trick, as Pro Football Talk reported. Dennis Allen’s defense has put up some incredible numbers in the past five games, allowing just two touchdowns and 44 total points (8.8 ppg), and they’re up to 36 sacks on the year (T-3rd in the NFL).

Great defense, especially in the red zone where the Falcons were just 1-for-4, is what you need to win on the road, in case Green Bay overtakes the Saints for the No. 1 seed. Sunday’s win gives the Saints a 23-7 road mark in regular season games since 2017 (credit my friend Mike Detillier for that one!). For a team whose hallmark is winning at home, that’s pretty darn good!

  • Keep up the ground attack. I watched Melvin Gordon and the Denver Broncos run all over the Chiefs for 179 yards in the Sunday night game and thought, “This is the recipe for beating Kansas City – keep Patrick Mahomes on the sideline.” Denver just failed to score enough points to get the job done. The Saints meanwhile rushed 36 times for 207 yards Sunday at Atlanta, with Alvin Kamara leading the pack with 88 yards and a score, and they are 7th in the NFL with 140.8 rushing yards per game. If they can dominate time of possession with a balanced attack like they did Sunday (36:54-23:06), and succeed in the red zone, that’s a recipe for winning in the postseason.

New Orleans Saints Define Resilience with Defense, Taysom Hill

Some New Orleans Saints fans were nervous when news broke that “Swiss Army knife” Taysom Hill would start for the injured Drew Brees Sunday against Atlanta - his first-ever start at quarterback.  - Some New Orleans Saints fans were nervous when news broke that “Swiss Army knife” Taysom Hill would start for the injured Drew Brees Sunday against Atlanta – his first-ever start at quarterback.

Given Hill’s rushing ability and the Falcons’ strength against the run (ranked 6th entering Week 11) and their porous passing defense (31st in the NFL), we knew both teams would bring their best game plans to this historically intense division rivalry.

What we didn’t know was how relentlessly the Saints defense would pressure Matt Ryan and make it look like it was his first NFL start. New Orleans feasted on eight sacks (three by Cam Jordan) and two interceptions and limited the Falcons to 2-of-14 on 3rd-down conversions, keeping the visiting Dirty Birds out of the end zone in a 24-9 victory. Coupled with Green Bay’s loss at Indianapolis, the Saints are now in sole possession of the NFC’s top spot at 8-2 as they ride a seven-game winning streak into Thanksgiving.

Remember when New Orleans was 1-2 after falling flat to the Packers in a fanless Mercedes-Benz Superdome? That 37-30 loss feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it? Now I’ll be the first to say many of the Saints’ wins have been downright ugly, but their defense the past three games has been nothing short of outstanding. Let’s look at the numbers:

 8.3 points per game allowed1 total touchdown allowed7 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries13 sacksOpponents’ combined 3rd down efficiency: 10-of-39 (25.6%) -
  • 8.3 points per game allowed

  • 1 total touchdown allowed

  • 7 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries

  • 13 sacks

  • Opponents’ combined 3rd down efficiency: 10-of-39 (25.6%)

Give credit to Dennis Allen for suffocating Tom Brady & the Bucs, the 49ers and now the Falcons. The Saints trailed against both San Francisco and Atlanta, but again they were resilient without Drew Brees at the helm. Their star quarterback will be out at least two more games with 11 rib fractures and a punctured lung, and I’m of the opinion the Saints should let Brees recover until their marquee matchup Dec. 20 against Patrick Mahomes and the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs – the next time they’ll be in the Dome after three straight road contests.

Taysom Hill didn’t play perfectly Sunday with some passes badly underthrown and a lost fumble for the second straight game. His stats won’t pop off the charts either (18-of-23 passing for 233 yards with two rushing touchdowns). But with the way the Saints defense is playing, Hill doesn’t need to be perfect – he just needs to build on Sunday’s performance in the next three games against opponents that are mediocre at best:

  • Nov. 29, 3:05 p.m. CT: at Broncos (4-6)

  • Dec. 6, noon CT: at Falcons (3-7)

  • Dec. 13, 3:25 p.m. CT: at Eagles (3-6-1)

So with six games left in the regular season, the Saints just have to keep winning and they’ll have a chance to lock up the No. 1 seed and the only first-round bye in the new playoff format. It’s all there for the taking. They just have to remain resilient.