The New Orleans Saints lost their 2nd game of the 2018 NFL Pre-Season last night, in a 20-15 defeat at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Saints fell to (1-1) on the Pre-Season and will visit the Los Angeles Chargers next Saturday Night (a week from tonight) at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California (suburban Los Angeles) in a nationally-televised contest on CBS.
With that in mind, here’s a quick look a yesterday’s biggest Saints “winners and losers” in their disappointing Pre-Season loss to the Cardinals.
And we begin first with……
THE BIGGEST “LOSERS”
TAYSOM HILL, BACK-UP QUARTERBACK
After he was one of our biggest “winners’ against the Jaguars last week, Hill took a step (or two) backward last night against the Cardinals. The talented and athletic 2nd-year QB from Brigham Young University made a name for himself on special teams last season, but he killed the “good vibes” from his performance last week with four turnovers in the first half alone — as Arizona took a 17-3 lead at the half.
Hill threw an interception on his 3rd pass attempt of the game after he had driven the Saints offense to the Arizona 30-yard line with their first possession.Then on the Saints’ 2nd possession as they had driven all the way down to the Arizona 35, Hill fumbled it and the Cardinals recovered.
On the next series after that one, he got picked off yet again. Hill then drove the Saints offense to the Arizona 13, but then he fumbled to Arizona — again.
But yet he STILL managed to show why the Saints coaching staff are so in love with his undeniable athletic ability, and the potential to be a dual-threat player as both a passer and a runner / scrambler, in the mold of a Steve Young or for you older Pro Football fans: a Fran Tarkenton.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) August 18, 2018
On a 3rd down and long, Hill scrambled down the left sideline for a 43-yard gain, while showcasing the speed and athleticism that makes him a player that the team envisions as a future NFL starter some day.
In the end, Hill finished 11 of 15 for 68 yards, but clearly the biggest takeaway is that he is NOT ready to be a starting QB in the NFL with that type of ball security. On top of that, he still has issues with timing and accuracy.
Here’s the question you have to ask yourself as a Saints fan this morning, which is:
How confident are you that IF something were to happen to Drew Brees (God forbid), that Taysom Hill could take over and lead the Saints to the NFL Playoffs and hopefully all the way to the Super Bowl?
If you just laughed out loud, then you’re probably not alone. But what isn’t funny is that the Saints are screwed if anything happens to Brees.
TOM SAVAGE, BACK-UP QUARTERBACK
The other half of the Saints’ shaky-at-best back-up QB situation, Savage started the 2nd half and played the 3rd quarter and half of the 4th quarter, and the 5th year veteran actually did okay stats-wise, finishing 6 of 7 for 53 yards.
But he too had ball security issues when he was hit from behind and fumbled the ball down near their own goal line that the Saints were very fortunate to recover at the 1 yard line. The Saints punted it away on the next play.
Holy mackerel — the ball-control issues continue despite the backup QB switch. Tom Savage loses a fumble on a sack, though the Saints recover and punt. Ugly, ugly night for the offense.
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) August 18, 2018
He followed that up on the very next series with a 3-and-out drive in which he took a coverage sack on 3rd down, that forced another Thomas Morstead punt.
To his credit, he did manage to direct two drives that ended with field goals.
But Savage ends up on our list for a 2nd straight week for the same reason as last week; which is that he holds on to the ball too long and is prone to making poor decisions, and also because he misses open throws that you would expect a now 5th-year veteran NFL quarterback to be able to make.
For a player that the Saints gave a 1 year, $1.5 million contract to this past off-season, that money seemingly could have been spent better on someone else.
THE SAINTS PASS DEFENSE
Some Saints fans will think that I’m nitpicking, but certainly Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen would probably agree that his defensive secondary got themselves “sliced and diced” by Arizona’s QB 1-2 combination of 9th year veteran Sam Bradford and rookie Josh Rosen.
They were carved up by Bradford in the 1st quarter, who went a perfect 6 out of his 6 pass attempts for 61 yards and a 109 passer rating. The Cardinals veteran gunslinger played three series, the last ending in a 9-yard touchdown run by RB David Johnson 8 seconds into the 2nd quarter.
Unfortunately for the Saints, they didn’t fare much better against Cardinals 2018 top draft pick and rookie passer Josh Rosen — who came in and promptly led the Cardinals on a seven-play, 87-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard Rosen touchdown pass to their team’s 2nd-round pick WR Christian Kirk; while giving Arizona fans a possible glimpse into their offense’s future. Rosen finished 11 out of 16 for 107 yards, in an impressive performance for the young rookie out of UCLA.
Grant it: the Saints rested several of their key defensive starters in last night’s game, but it was still a disappointment considering how good that the entire secondary has looked thus far in Training Camp. We’ll see if they can fare somewhat better next week out in California, against long-time Chargers veteran QB Phillip Rivers.
And that takes us to……
THE BIGGEST “WINNERS”
THE SAINTS RUNNING GAME
While the Saints QB situation took center stage particularly with the notable struggles of Taysom Hill in the passing game, the Saints running game had a stellar performance; especially in the 1st half thanks to #1 RB Mark Ingram and the young man who at this point seems the most likely candidate to replace him during Ingram’s 4-game suspension to open the upcoming regular season: 3rd year back-up RB Jonathan Williams.
Ingram ran for 36 yards on 7 carries, and essentially “bulldozed” the Cardinals run defense with his tough and unrelenting down-hill running style.
Williams, who was on this same biggest “winners” part of our list just last week with his 4 carries for 26 yards and a TD last week against the Jaguars, finished last night’s game with 8 carries for 37 yards; including one impressive carry of 19 yards that he nearly broke for an even bigger gain. Combined, the duo averaged 6.6 yards per carry.
Not to be outdone: rookie RB Boston Scott and 5th year RB Terrance West both had a few impressive runs in the 2nd half as the Saints offense attempted to play catch-up, and overall as a team they collectively ran the ball 28 times for 183 rushing yards.
Sure the Saints passing attack isn’t quite the same without Drew Brees under center, but their running game — which didn’t even have 2nd year superstar Alvin Kamara in the line-up last night since he was given the night off by head coach Sean Payton — is already in mid-season form.