5 Takeaways from New Orleans Saints’ Week 6 Loss
5 Takeaways From Saints' First Loss Of The Season
For the New Orleans Saints, the Week 6 game on the road against the New England Patriots was going to be a big one, win, lose or draw. A win would have improved the Saints to 6-0 and shown that they were a dangerous team to be reckoned with, at home or on the road. Although a loss is never easy, it could not have come at a better time for New Orleans.
The Saints now head into a bye-week and do not play again until October 23, when they will host the now 2-4 Buffalo Bills in the Superdome. I never like to say that any game is a sure thing, but even after a tough loss to the Patriots I am guessing that almost everybody will pick New Orleans over Buffalo.
The bye week will allow the Saints to get some precious time off after playing two games on the road, winning one and losing the other. Players, coaches and staff will have time to clear their heads and refocus their energy on finishing out the rest of the season. Head coach Sean Payton, a highly competitive and intelligent coach, will likely use the time off to evaluate his team and breakdown how they got their first loss of the season. Moreover, tight end Jimmy Graham will have extra time to heal after he suffered an undisclosed lower leg injury in the second half against New England.
More importantly, however, is that with their perfect record now a thing of the past all of the hype and talk about perfection is long gone. The team can now move on and worry about what they’re supposed to: winning football games.
Here now are five takeaways from New Orleans' first loss of the 2013 season.
Jack Cavanaugh is a New Orleans Saints contributing writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cav_jack, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.
5. New Orleans Is Human, After All
Even before the game was over, it was apparent that New Orleans is in some ways just like all of the other NFL teams out there: sometimes they will lose. At least now the Saints can get rid of all the hype that surrounds teams who start off perfect. With their first loss in the record books, New Orleans can now focus on winning football games and improving problem areas.
4. Running Game Showed Improvement
Even though New Orleans recorded their first loss of the season, I was happy to see that Travaris Cadet and Khiry Robinson were able to get into the mix. Cadet caught a touchdown pass in the first quarter while Robinson was the Saints' leading rusher for the night.
Furthermore, Robinson looks like he could turn out to be a fine young, energetic running back. He finished the night with 53 yards on seven carries and one touchdown. He was also able to break off runs of 16 and 20 yards. Hopefully New Orleans will begin to use him a little more so we can get a bigger sample size to better judge his ability.
3. Jimmy Graham Can Be Stopped
The Patriots showed the league that star tight end Jimmy Graham can be stopped. Graham caught zero passes on six targets thanks to the physical coverage that New England piled on him all night. Graham eventually left the game with a lower leg injury, but he will have a bye-week to heal up and work through any problems.
Although Graham was a non-factor against New England on Sunday, don't expect that to become a recurring thing. Graham is still a young, physical tight end who is a horrible mismatch for opposing defenses. His time will come again.
2. Defense Mostly Solid, But Some Weaknesses Exposed
Rob Ryan's defense was mostly solid, penetrating the Patriots' offensive line and sacking Tom Brady five times. Unfortunately, they just gave up too many big plays and missed tackles that they shouldn't have.
Ryan was visibly frustrated on the sidelines Sunday night. Look for him to take the time off and figure out ways to better use his personnel and figure out what went wrong. If anything, New Orleans' defense helped the Saints stay in the game, but it was the offense that helped them lose.
1. Saints' Offense Needs To Diversify, More So
The Saints need to diversify their offense as much as they can. Rookie receiver Kenny Stills made an excellent end zone catch in the fourth quarter to put New Orleans up for the first time in the entire game, however, he was targeted only three times the whole game.
Likewise for other tight end Ben Watson who caught three passes for 61 yards on four targets. Darren Sproles, on the other hand, was targeted 12 times and caught six of those passes. A lot can be said for the physical play of the Patriots' defense, but New Orleans needs to make better use of its personnel. If defenses are going to shut down obvious play makers like Graham, Sproles and veteran Marques Colston, New Orleans needs to be able to rely on some of the other guys, like Stills, Watson and Nick Toon to help shoulder some of the load.