This is a must win week as the Patriots finally get a break in their schedule. They are playing a team that is more in line with the talent they currently have.
The acquisition of JC Jackson from San Diego may be a savior to the season. The Pats were down their top 4 cornerbacks and no team in the NFL can survive that number of injuries. Losing the Defensive Rookie of the Month for September, Christian Gonzalez was a huge blow, and a contributor to the loss in Dallas. Gonzalez was a leading candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year before the season ending shoulder separation and torn labrum. Here is a look at the Saints. Depth Chart courtesy of ESPN and the team analysis from Warren Sharp.
|QB||Derek Carr Q||Jameis Winston||Jake Luton||Taysom Hill|
|RB||Alvin Kamara||Kendre Miller||Tony Jones||Jamaal Williams IR|
|WR||Chris Olave||Keith Kirkwood|
|WR||Michael Thomas||Lynn Bowden|
|WR||Rashid Shaheed||A.T. Perry||–||–|
|TE||Juwan Johnson Q||Foster Moreau||Jimmy Graham||–|
|LT||Trevor Penning||Landon Young||–||–|
|LG||James Hurst||Andrus Peat Q||Trai Turner IR||–|
|C||Erik McCoy Q||Max Garcia|
|RG||Cesar Ruiz||James Hurst||Max Garcia||Nick Saldiveri|
|RT||Ryan Ramczyk Q||–||–|
The Patriots are hosting the New Orleans Saints (2-2). The Saints have played a much weaker schedule than the Pats. Their opponent’s record is a combined 7-9. The Patriots’ opponents are 11-5. The Patriots have faced 3 of the top 5 defenses in the league and were in the games against Philadelphia and Miami with opportunities to win those games. The Dallas game was an aberration, a perfect storm where Mac Jones gifted them two TDs with turnovers. Then the injury to Christian Gonzalez sunk the ship. Next play Steve Belichick calls for press man coverage with no help over the top. The diminutive 5’9” Myles Bryant is matched up one-on-one against 6’2” Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb which resulted in a TD. Bryant had no help over the top from a safety and Belichick had Jabrill Peppers as the safety. The loss of Gonzalez was as much an emotional letdown as it was the loss of his abilities.
The Sants Offense is ranked 26th in the league per Pro Football Reference. Last year the Offense finished 26th. There have been no significant upgrades in 2023. The O-line was ranked 16th in 2022 for pass blocking win rate according to ESPN. The O-line run blocking win rate was 20th overall. Last season the starting 5 O-lineman played just 24 snaps together. There was always someone hurt. There has been one change at that was moving starting Guard Andrus Peat to backup. Peat was ranked 73rd in 2022, and 73rd in 2021 at Guard per Pro Football Focus. Each team has 2 starting guards and that would be 64 players in the league and those grades would make Peat a backup at best. James Hurst replaces Peat. Hurst was an undrafted Free Agent from North Carolina that the Baltimore Ravens signed in 2014. He joined the Saints in 2020 and then signed a 3 -year extension in 2021. The 31-year-old took a long road to become a starter. The Saints lost their best Offensive lineman Guard Trai Turner to an injury, and he is out on IR. Trevor Penning is the Left tackle. The former 1st round selection in 2022 (#19). He tore a ligament in his foot last year and didn’t get back until November. Penning is massive at 6’8” 325 lbs., and despite his bulk, he ran a 4.89 40-yard dash. Anything near 5.0 is superior for an Offensive Lineman. His numbers are off the charts. Erik McCoy is a weak spot at Center. McCoy was a 2nd round pick (#48) in 2019. He was selected to the all-rookie Team by the Pro Football Writers and Pro Football Focus in 2019. McCoy has missed 9 games over the past two years and his ratings from PFF have gone down each of the last two years. RG Cesar Ruiz missed the last game due to a concussion and then Peat left the game with a concussion. Ruiz was a 1st round pick (#24) in 2020 out of Michigan. He was the top ranked Center by PFF, and he had only 8 QB pressures in 447 drop backs by Michigan QBs. The Right Tackle is veteran Ryan Ramczyk, a former 2017 1st round (#32) selection. Penning and Ramczyk are solid tackles and the key to making New Orleans offense work.
Derek Carr was limited in practice as he did throw some. He could be back for the game Sunday. Against Tampa Bay at home, he was 23 of 37 for 127 yards, no TDs, no INTs. He was sacked twice. Jameis Winston is a very capable backup, and some think he might be a better QB for New Orleans than Carr. This is the third offensive system Carr has had to learn in the last three years. He didn’t pick up Josh McDaniels complicated system in Las Vegas last season.
Alvin Kamara is back after serving a 3 games suspension. However, if a defense puts up a 7+ man box, Kamara is stopped cold. He ranked 41st of 42 backs with an EPA/rush of -0.19 against the 7+ man box. Last season the Saints had the lowest rate of Pre-snap motion. Add to this, they were 3rd lowest in the use of Play Action passing. Jamaal Williams was brought in from the Lions to add to the RB room, but he is on IR with a hamstring injury. Current back up is rookie Kendre Miller a 2023 3rd round (#71) pick out of TCU.
At WR the Saints have one of most dynamic young receivers in Chris Olave. The 2022 1st round selection (#11) had 72 catches for 1042 yards and 4 TDs. He was selected as a PFWA All-Rookie WR last season. Michael Thomas is bouncing back from an injury plagued last two years. He has 22 catches for 219 yards. Second year player Rashid Shaheed is a big play threat. He is averaging 15.4 yards per reception. Former Patriot WR Lynn Bowden has made the Saints as a backup WR. Rookie A.T. Perry was selected in the 6yh round (#195) and is a big target at 6’5”. Nether Perry nor Bowden have a reception so far.
The Saints have a solid group of TEs, featuring Juwaun Johnson, Foster Moreau and Jimmy Graham. Graham is the only TE with a TD catch. Johnson missed practice on Wednesday and is Questionable for the game. Moreau is a great story, overcoming cancer to play in the NFL. Moreau is a great blocking TE. He played for LSU and is a New Orleans native.
|Defense||Base 4-3 D|
|LDE||Cameron Jordan||Tanoh Kpassagnon||Kyle Phillips||–|
|LDT||Nathan Shepherd||Bryan Bresee|
|RDT||Khalen Saunders||Malcolm Roach||–||–|
|RDE||Carl Granderson||Isaiah Foskey||Payton Turner IR|
|WLB||Pete Werner||Nephi Sewell||Andrew Dowell IR||–|
|MLB||Demario Davis||D’Marco Jackson|
|SLB||Zack Baun||Ty Summers||–||–|
|LCB||Paulson Adebo Q||Isaac Yiadom||–|
|SS||Jordan Howden||J.T. Gray||Marcus Maye SUSP|
|FS||Tyrann Mathieu||Lonnie Johnson Q||Ugo Amadi||–|
|RCB||Marshon Lattimore||Alontae Taylor|
Last season the Saints Defensive Line was nothing to write home about. They finished last in the ESPN Win Rtae. According to Warren Sharp they had a below average Pressure Rtae of 30.6%. The Defense is getting old too, with Cameron Jordan (34) and Tyrann Mathieu (32) leading the way.
The D-Line has Cameron Jordan at one end and Carl Granderson at the other. They have pass rushing specialist in Tanoh Kpassagnon and Isaiah Foskey. The Notre Dame product, Foskey was a 2nd round pick (#40) this year. They also selected DT Brian Bresee in the 1st Round (#29) to help shore up the interior of the line. Bresee has a history of injury problems and is listed as Full Participant this week after missing practice on Wednesday. Nathan Sheperd and Khalen Saunders man the interior line but overall, the line is just average. They have 9 sacks in 4 games against less than mediocre opponents. Carl Granderson leads with 2.5.
Pete Werner leads the team in tackles with 34. The Ohio State grad was a 2021 2nd round pick (#60). Demario Davis is another outstanding LB and chipped in with 25 tackles. Davis is now 34 and the 2012 3rd round pick (#77) out of Arkansas State was originally drafted by the New York Jets. Davis is entering his 12th year in the league. Can he hold up for the year? Zack Braun was a 2020 3rd round pick (#74) out of Wisconsin. In 4 games he has just 4 tackles!
Safety Jordan Howden a rookie out of Minnesota will play but has a finger injury. He has just 4 tackles on the season. Cornerback Paulson Adebo is questionable. Free Safety Tyran Mathieu is one of the best in the league, but he is now long in the tooth at age 32. Marshon Lattimore is a legit #1 cornerback. New Orleans likes to play man defense. That’s what Dallas did and sent extra rushers. Hopefully, the team can learn from the mistakes in the Cowboys game. According to Greg Bedard od Boston Sports Journal, he was surprised that teams hadn’t pressed the Patriots Wide Receivers earlier in the season. The Patriots wideouts cannot get separation.
On special teams the Saints are ranked 19th in the league. Compare that to the Patriots #1 ranking per Pro Football Reference. In the Kicking game, New Orleans is ranked 18th. Lou Heddley is having a good year punting and ranked # 7, Bryce Baringer is ranked #4. Blake Groupe is 9 of 10 in FG with his only miss being a 45 yarder.
Coming and Going
The Patriots signed DE Manny Jones to the Practice Squad. The former Steelers Practice Squad player played college ball at Colorado State and was an UDFA signee by Arizona Cardinals. He was elevated twice to the active roster in 2022 and played in his 1st game with the Cardinals. Jones is a 6’4” 290 lbs. DE.
Also signed yesterday was DL Trysten Hill. The 25-year-old former Cowboys 2nd round pick (# 58) in 2019, signed with New England after stints with Arizona and Cleveland. The 6’3” 310 lb DT played his college ball at UCF.
Patriots acquired CB JC Jackson in a trade from San Diego. The Chargers were done with Jackson, as he had lost his starting position despite the big contract. San Diego had to eat over $7M of his contract. The 3 years left on Jackson’s deal are not guaranteed, so don’t be surprised if he is cut after this season. There hasn’t been a corresponding transaction announced by the Patriots yet, but I am assuming that Christian Gonzalez will go on IR.
Punter Corliss Waitman was released after the Patriots signed Hill.
Posted Under: Patriots News