NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Bizarre Circumstances
Let’s be real. The Broncos had no chance. Zero. None.
Losing all four quarterbacks the night before a game due to COVID protocols is unprecedented, but yet completely in line with 2020.
The Broncos’s first choice to play quarterback was literally an offensive quality control coach. When turned down by the league, they turned to Kendall Hinton- a practice squad receiver who played a season as a college quarterback at Wake Forest but had not taken single snap in practice.
The Saints benefited from this particular instance of COVID protocol, but have been on the other side this season. They can’t control what other teams do; they just do what they have to do to win the game. On Sunday, it was incredibly simple.
As for the situation involving the Broncos quarterbacks, this felt more like a case of the NFL making an example, and not budging for a team that broke protocol. They’ve also made it clear that competitive balance is not nearly as important as finishing the season. Maybe this situation would have been different earlier in the season, when there was more wiggle room to move games around. At this point in the year, those options are gone. Teams must comply.
Take Two: Defensive Dominance
It was very easy for the Saints defense, but nonetheless they got the job done. Knowing they would get a heavy dose of run, they shut it down. They allowed 100 yards, but that was on 33 carries.
Hinton only completed one pass, was picked off twice, and should’ve been intercepted two more times. On his last interception, I turned to the writer next to me in the press box and said ‘I kind of feel bad for the kid.’ Hinton had no chance.
Everyone knew it was an unfair fight, but the Saints defense did what they were supposed to do and dominated.
Take Three: Evaluating Taysom
Sean Payton made it perfectly clear in his postgame press conference that Taysom Hill handled the game exactly the way Payton wanted.
He wanted no part in criticizing Hill’s on-field performance, which was understandable given the approach Payton wanted to take in the game.
Hill went 9/16 for 78 yards with an interception. It wasn’t his best effort, but it was clear with the way he was playing, that he had it drilled in his head to not make any unnecessary throws.
Despite all of that, there were more plays to be made. Hill threw into double-coverage on a throw to Jared Cook, when he had Marquez Callaway on the deep post open. He also hasn’t quite developed that timing with Alvin Kamara on screen passes.
Hill said after the contest, that it was a hard game for him to evaluate of himself, because of the unique circumstances in what the team needed for this particular game.
Take Four: Ground and pound
44 carries for 229 yards on the ground.
Seventy percent of the Saints total plays were runs. It honestly could have been close to a 100. Truth be told, with the way that game went, the Saints didn’t really need to attempt a single pass after their first scoring drive. A drive that ended with ten straight running plays, and gave them a 7-0 lead that felt insurmountable.
The Saints offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. Latavius Murray, who’s quietly had a really good season, had his best game with 19 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Taysom Hill ran it 10 times for 44 yards and two touchdowns as well. Alvin Kamara chipped in with 11 carries for 54 yards.
Payton said after the game that their play-calling/game plan changed quite a bit given the unique circumstances. The Saints executed it very well.
Take Five: Other Observations
- Sunday’s win meant Payton has beaten all 31 NFL teams as head coach. That’s impressive.
- It was also just the second win for the Saints in Denver.
- The offense was in a funk early, but sort of snapped out of it on the fourth down hard count that caused the Broncos to jump offsides.
- The injury to Saints cornerback Janoris Jenkins is something to monitor. He’s been playing some really good football lately.
- I’ve said it a few times this season already, but Michael Burton has become an unsung hero. The guy is a lethal lead blocker.
- The Saints are undefeated in October and November.
- Credit Payton for guiding the Saints through the uncharted waters of 2020. They’ve handled these circumstances as well as just about any team.
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