ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 11: Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after a touchdown reception as A.J. Terrell #24 of the Atlanta Falcons defends during the second half of the game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Week One of the NFL season was interesting, to say the least. The Saints continue their domination over the NFC South in outrageous fashion. A 27-26 win that was thinner than a single strand of hair. If teeth had skin, it would’ve been thinner than that. It took a 16-point fourth-quarter comeback aided by a game-winning blocked field goal. Here are some of my reflections on last week’s win:
Michael Thomas played his first game in almost two years in the 2022 season opener against the Falcons. He ended the game with five catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns came in the fourth quarter. Before the game, Thomas said it was like Christmas. Well, he played the role of Santa and helped deliver a dramatic win for the Saints. Great to see him back!
Run or Pass: A Tale of Two Halves
The run game carried the team in the first half with 106 yards, but Jameis Winston went 5/10 for 24 yards as they trailed 16-7. The passing game led the comeback in the second half. Jameis went 18/24 for 245 yards and those two touchdowns to Thomas. Meanwhile, the run game contributed 45 yards in the comeback. If the Saints can put both facets of the offense together simultaneously, it’ll be dangerous.
Chemistry Will Come
I saw some miscommunications on offense and defense. Special teams held it together, except for Lutz’s missed field goal. The offensive line was missing Trevor Penning. James Hurst filled in admirably at left tackle. They gave up four sacks to a team that had only 18 all year last season. Suring up pass protection will be something to keep an eye on. Alvin Kamara’s rib injury will be another thing to watch. Latavius Murray was brought back on the practice squad as depth. Mark Ingram lost a fumble, but I don’t think that’ll hurt his touches. Look for them to establish the run to help the line get going. This will also help the passing game open up. On defense, we saw some miscommunications and missed assignments. Marcus Maye missed a deep pass and got called for interference. It looked like he was late getting over the top of his cover two zone responsibilities. There were also a plethora of plays when guys were thrown off by the misdirection of run/pass option plays. Having a mobile quarterback like Marcus Mariota poses a threat to the edges of the defense on those plays. The Saints will need to practice against this more often. College principles are becoming more and more prevalent in the NFL.
Overall, a win is a win. However, some concerns need fixing. Up next is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady is a different type of animal at quarterback. The Bucs’ defense is going to be tough to crack. I think this team can win and take early control of the division. Look for my game preview on Saturday morning!