After Further Review: Five takes from Saints loss to Eagles

Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 8:15 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Take One: Where the game was lost

At the 9:46 mark of the first quarter, Philadelphia linebacker T.J. Edwards picked off Trevor Siemian at the Saints’ 40-yard line.

At the :24 mark of the second quarter, Darius Slay stepped in front of a ball on the sideline to intercept Siemian, returning it 51 yards for a touchdown. That 24:22 stretch, from Siemian’s first interception to his second, is where the Saints lost the football game.

Seven plays after the first pick, Jalen Hurts ran in his first of two touchdowns to put the Eagles on the board, 7-0. After Slay’s pick-six, it was 27-7. For all intents and purposes, the game was over at that point. In that time span, the Eagles outgained the Saints 219-75 in total yards, and converted seven third downs to the Saints’ one.

The hole, once again, was too much for the Saints to dig themselves out.

Take Two: Yes, it’s time for Taysom Hill

If healthy, it’s now time for the Saints to turn to Taysom Hill at quarterback. It’s just that simple.

Siemian has reached his expiration date as a starter. Sunday was his worst effort to date. His first interception should’ve been a big gain for Adam Trautman, who was open on a corner route. His pick-six was poorly thrown. Siemian threw it too far inside, and Slay broke on it and took it to the house.

Not only was he picked off twice, he missed open receivers. On that pick-six, it appeared Trautman had a step on a double move. On a third down earlier in the game, Siemian threw an incompletion to Marquez Callaway, but missed Kenny Stills open on a dig route.

It’s noble that Siemian has fought back in all of his starts. But now it’s starting to look like that may be a product of soft defensive coverages, and opposing offenses going conservative to close out a game. It’s certainly not all Siemian’s fault, everyone knows that. The Saints are a shell of themselves right now.

However, that side of the ball is in desperate need of a spark. Hill has the ability to provide it.

Hill was active Sunday, but was only going to be used if there was an injury to Siemian as the backup quarterback. It was an odd set of circumstances, but nonetheless underscored how much he’s needed on the football field.

Again, if he’s healthy, now is the time for Taysom.

Take Three: Grounded… Again

The Saints haven’t looked this bad against the run since the last time they were at Lincoln Financial Field in 2020. That’s when Jalen Hurts and the Eagles ran all over them. It happened again Sunday to the tune of 242 rushing yards against the NFL’s top ranked rush defense.

That 2020 meeting was forgivable, given it was Hurts’ first career start. Sunday’s effort was unacceptable.

With Hurts leading the way, the Eagles controlled the line of scrimmage, and kept the Saints front seven on their heels most of the game. The zone-read option clearly gives the uber-aggressive Saints linebackers fits, as Philadelphia gashed them all game long. While they struggled to be in position to make stops.

On the Eagles second touchdown drive, they ran the ball seven straight times with Hurts and Miles Sanders.

In all, Philadelphia ran the ball 50 times. Hurts finished his day with 69 rushing yards and three touchdowns. His final one was a thing of beauty, as he put poor Carl Granderson on skates with a cutback. Sanders gained 94 yards in his first game back, while Jordan Howard rushed for 63 yards.

Take Four: Injuries mounting

The first sign of the Saints’ issues may have been well before they ever stepped off the plane for Philly. On most Fridays, Sean Payton is in a noticeably good mood at his press conference. The game plan is done, practice is complete, and he’s confident in what’s ahead. This Friday however, Payton had a different tone. He wasn’t quite as loose or jovial.

Now we know why.

Payton’s team was decimated with injuries, and it would’ve been tough to feel confident at that point. Ryan Ramczyk, Terron Armstead, Alvin Kamara, Hill and Ty Montgomery were all out. That doesn’t even include the starters they’d already lost to IR like C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Jameis Winston, and Andrus Peat.

Contrast that with the Eagles, who seem to be getting healthier at the right time.

At some point, the personnel available matters. They’ll never use it as an excuse, but the Saints didn’t have nearly enough quality football players available against Philadelphia. It would’ve taken a near flawless game to earn a win, which the Saints didn’t come close to getting.

Take Five: Other Observations

  • Marcus Williams played well Sunday. He had three pass breakups, and showed great range on a PBU on a Hurts throw to Howard, who was wide open on the sideline on a broken play.
  • Blake Gillikin continues to prove the Saints right. He was incredible punting the ball once again.
  • That’s the type of game the Saints drafted Trautman for. Trautman has had a rough couple of weeks, but he responded with a very good game Sunday. His touchdown catch was an incredible play. Hopefully his injury isn’t too serious.
  • It was surprising to see Payton elect to kick the field goal on fourth down, down 33-19. It kept it a two-score game at that point, and allowed the Eagles to kill more clock. The risk/reward of going for it felt like it would’ve been worth it.
  • The Saints missed another extra point Sunday.
  • They also failed on a two-point conversion.
  • Malcolm Jenkins struggled mightily in coverage on Dallas Goedert in the first half. Goedert responded quite well to his new contract extension.
  • Christian Ringo forced and recovered a fumble early that set up the Saints’ first touchdown.
  • The Saints are now 5-5. If the playoffs started today they would be the seventh seed. After three straight losses, their postseason hopes are hanging on by a thread. They have to find a way to get back on track.

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