After Further Review: Five takes Saints vs. Chargers

After Further Review: Five takes Saints vs. Chargers
Alvin Kamara scores the first touchdown of Saints win over Chargers.

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

Alvin Kamara scores the first touchdown of Saints win over Chargers
Alvin Kamara scores the first touchdown of Saints win over Chargers (David Grumfeld (nola.com/Times Picayune))

Take one: Run Defense struggles

It was a tough night for the first team defense against the run. The line had trouble holding their landmarks while the linebacker trio of Manti Te’o, A.J. Klein and DeMario Davis all struggled to shed blocks and missed tackles. This was an issue last season for this team and didn’t look good early on Saturday.

Take two: Davenport’s Debut

The rookie looked solid in his preseason debut. He finished with three tackles - one for loss and a half sack. Early in his snaps, Davenport made an athletic play on the edge on an end around. The receiver stopped to cut back inside. Davenport was able to change direction with him to make the tackle. It’s a play most guys his size can’t make.

In the second quarter, he used a quick first step to get past the left tackle and was able to dip his shoulder to turn the corner. He didn’t get the sack but affected the play. All in all, I thought it was a good start for Davenport. The key now is to build on that.

Take Three: Taysom Train back on track

This is the preseason of Taysom Hill, and Saturday was no different. Hill, the complete football player, showed up against the Chargers and made a huge impact. He had a fake punt run for a first down and a special teams tackle on a kickoff. He also went 7/8 in passing for a touchdown and ran for 35 yards and another score. It was Hill’s best effort to date. For the preseason, he’s leading the team in rushing and has completed nearly 80% of his passes.

The conundrum he puts the Saints in is that he isn’t just a guy that can play special teams. He’s literally one of their best special teams players and makes a difference when he plays there.

So, do the Saints keep him at the number three quarterback and utilize his special teams ability? Or do they make him the backup and open a roster spot elsewhere? But by doing this they’d be either risking injury by playing him on special teams or risk losing his special teams impact by not playing him there.

It’s a fascinating debate and one this team has never dealt with before. One thing I can see is Sean Payton sprinkling him into the offense in certain spots this season. That zone read on the two-point conversion can be very effective.

Take Four: Austin Carr back in the conversation

If you’ve consistently read this blog you know that I was high on Carr before camp started but became disappointed with him due to his lack of production. But now, he’s fought his way back in the mix after the last two preseason games. He had three catches Saturday and displayed his sharp route-running ability. Carr’s recent emergence only adds to the intense competition in the wide receiver room. Do they keep five? Six? It’s a legitimate debate that won’t be easy to settle. Carr is the closest to Willie Snead/ Lance Moore skillset which could set him apart in this battle.

Take Five: Other Observations

  • I think Boston Scott has done enough to make this team. The final numbers may or may not work in his favor, but on sheer ability Scott has proven he belongs.
  • Jermon Bushrod has struggled at left tackle over the last two weeks and that struggle has caused concern at the position. With the injury history of Terron Armstead, the Saints need to have a key reserve there. I’m starting to have my doubts if Bushrod is that player. 
  • Tom Savage once again had a decent game and is the safe pick at backup quarterback. However, there was one play that demonstrated his checkdown reputation perfectly. He hit Ted Ginn Jr. on a short out route. But on the play Carr, who was lined up in the slot next to Ginn, ran a corner route over the top. Carr was open but it was a more difficult throw but would have been a much bigger gain. Ginn was also open but was a higher percentage completion for a smaller gain. Savage chose Ginn without hesitation.

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