Saints @ Patriots
Final Score: Saints 28, Patriots 13
Writer: Matthew Bevins (@MattQbList on Twitter)
The “Nawlin’s” Saints have quite the expectations to live up to just a year removed from Drew Brees‘ retirement. Will there be a constant, ominous aura of Taysom Hill echoed in Jameis Winston‘s ear every time they have a slight struggle? The 1-1 Saints took to the road and put an honest to goodness whoopin’ on the Patriots, causing local fans far and wide to reevaluate if the Mac Jones era is something we really want to be excited about. The Patriots lost a game at home, with their record going to 1-2 after the loss, while also losing one of their biggest playmakers in James White.
Every player in the team comes over to see James White, the captain who garners such respect. pic.twitter.com/RbHpA38iDn
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 26, 2021
While the Saints are clearly looking for their identity, it seems they are a lot closer to finding one than the Patriots are. The squad from New England seemed absolutely gobsmacked by the White injury and the running game struggled for the rest of the game after he went down. After an early 1st quarter score to Alvin Kamara, the Saints never looked back or lost their lead at any point in the game. The Saints locked into newcomers Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris, hopeful that they can find some bodies sooner rather than later that will line up alongside Michael Thomas upon his return from the IR.
New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston: 13/21, 128 yards, 2 TD, 3 sacks | 5 carries, 4 yards
Taysom Hill: 6 carries, 32 yards, TD
Jameis Winston has had a career of highs and lows, but in his showing against the Patriots, he looked like the best version of himself. The offense leaned less on their quarterback play and kept Jameis to just 21 passes on the game (which oddly enough, through three games is his average passing attempts thus far). Jameis didn’t do much to show he can be a true mobile quarterback but he avoided some strong pressure on him early on in the game and had a few shifty plays to avoid long sacks and get the ball back to the line of scrimmage. As the Saints look to build their persona, the look seems to be run-heavy, and use Jameis as a passer to clear out blitz packages and run-stuffing when need be. While Bill Belichick and the staff attempted to do their standard defense task of removing the best offensive weapon across the field (which would clearly be Alvin Kamara), Jameis looked competent and not rushed in most of his passing situations, finding some time to build rapport with Marques Callaway, the preseason darling who sadly hadn’t yet panned out thus far in the regular season.
First career TD!
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) September 26, 2021
While the results were positive, this is not the type of throw that Sean Payton and the Saints’ coaches are looking for. It was a poor decision while under pressure and Jameis should have just eaten it. Otherwise, his decision-making was solid, for the most part. For fantasy purposes, Jameis will likely not be given the opportunity to line up and rip off anything close to the number of passing opportunities that Tampa Bay gave him, but the offense is a great situation to be in, and could likely lead to top-15 quarterback production if the interceptions continue to trend down from the olden days.
Alvin Kamara: 24 carries, 89 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 29 yards, TD
Tony Jones: 2 carries, 12 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards
Alex Armah: 1 carry, 5 yards
As this offense goes, it goes with Kamara or not at all. Kamara did usual Kamara things on Sunday, as he’s slowly regaining some semblance of the dash and burst that has turned him into a top-five fantasy and real-life running back over the past few years. As previously mentioned, the Saints are still attempting to find their personality and the only person who truly builds into it game in and game out is Kamara, as he was the only Saint seen on 60% or more of routes today. Kamara finished the day with more than 100 all-purpose yards, compiling three-quarters of that on the ground and a bit of it in the passing game, while also breaking off a touchdown reception to ice the cake. He was bottled up early and also later in the game, but he was able to do enough to please both the Saints and those who roster him in fantasy. Kamara is an absolute delight to watch and continues to showcase how extremely talented and explosive he can be.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) September 26, 2021
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Marquez Callaway: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 41 yards, YD
Deonte Harris: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 31 yards
Kenny Stills: 3 targets, 1 reception, 17 yards
Chris Hogan: 1 target
Adam Trautman: 1 target
Juwan Johnson: 1 target
The lack of targets for this group is seemingly half a sign of the Kamara touch dominance in this offense and half a sign of the Saints’ distrust in Jameis. Marquez Callaway made his long-awaited entry into the relevant bucket for the Nawlin’s Saints. Callaway’s five targets on the books for today almost eclipsed his season total from the first two games and ended the game the receptions leader with four.
Deonte Harris has likely seen his stock most vaulted up from his consistent showings across the first three games, though it’s not like he has stood out by any means. He caught a crucial pass on third and long late in the game that extended the drive and led to the game-clinching TD. He gained separation on the catch with some nifty footwork that crossed up cornerback Jalen Mills. Harris is talented and brings some skills to the table, but for fantasy purposes he just isn’t consistently targeted on a week-to-week basis. Kenny Stills is apparently still a thing that needs to be worried about, as he transported himself in from 2015 right to this game, ending the game with a single reception for 17 yards. The Saints offense looks to continue to allow itself to be dominated with rushing attack focus by Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara, pushing the ball slowly down the field metaphorically until Michael Thomas returns.
New England Patriots
Mac Jones: 30/51, 270 yards, TD, 3 interceptions, 2 sacks | 6 carries, 28 yards
Mac Jones and the Patriots have had a difficult honeymoon period. Jones finished the game with 51 attempts, as the team leaned away from its running game for seemingly two reasons. One, the game quickly got out of hand and the team was forced to be reliant on passing in hopes of picking up large chunks of yardage. Second, it didn’t help that James White was carted off the field with a hil injury early on and did not return. Considering that White has been the team’s most consistent player through two weeks, the playcalling struggled and nobody was able to step up and fill in as the trusted dump-off when Mac was under pressure. Let’s talk about what Mac did.
He had not one…
Mac Jones first career interception 😬pic.twitter.com/wTuq0zgUki
— Guy Boston Sports (@GuyBostonSports) September 26, 2021
Another pick for Mac Jones…
Off the hands of Jonnu Smithpic.twitter.com/2ZJsEs16mS
— Guy Boston Sports (@GuyBostonSports) September 26, 2021
But three interceptions on the day.
Marshon shut it down – SAINTS WIN!
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) September 26, 2021
The first was a bit of a duck thanks to a big hit as he released it. He was once again under pressure all day long so this was bound to happen at some point. The second interception wasn’t his fault – you could argue that the ball was a little ahead of Jonnu Smith, but Jonnu absolutely has to come down with that. That play was the difference in the game. The third interception was late and probably a miscommunication between him and the receiver, but he is certainly at fault for it. Overall, Mac actually looked relatively solid all things considered. Some garbage time yardage definitely helped, and the touchdown to Kendrick Bourne (seen below) was a 50/50 ball that he got lucky on. Still not what you’re looking for if you’re trotting out Mac in fantasy, but better days will come.
Damien Harris: 6 carries, 14 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, -3 yards
James White: 1 carry, 6 yards | 1 target, 0 receptions
J.J Taylor: 1 carry, 2 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 3 yards
Brandon Bolden: 3 carries, -1 yard | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 23 yards
The Patriots’ running game was absolutely atrocious. An early come-from-behind style of gameplay and the aforementioned James White injury caused this offensive rushing opportunity to be null and void almost immediately. Damien Harris was only seen on the field for six rushes to the tune of fourteen yards, and from the stadium seats, could be seen more often carrying his helmet up and down the sideline. From the time that James White left the field, it seemed as if the playbook got dumped out a bit in the hopes of finding some fragments of interesting plays from generations before. Brandon Bolden reminded us he was still on the squad and picked up seemingly all the downs that James White would have handled (presumably, having Harris on the field when he doesn’t catch many passes would be a tell that the Patriots would not like to showcase?) Suffice it to say, aside from a couple of solid passing games out of the backfield, Bolden showed us why he was the fourth on the depth chart (five before they shipped out Sony Michel in the preseason). There was zero burst to his game and vision.
Damien Harris HAS had and will continue to have better games than this one, and as it seemed less attached to any injury concerns, it seems game-planning just sized him out of this one, as he continues to work on being a better pass catcher and protective blocking presence. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t exciting to think his value in fantasy trades may dip after this one. Keep an eye on your fantasy sources, as the James White injury was worrisome enough to require a cart and not just a blue tent viewing.
Kendrick Bourne: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 96 yards, TD
Jakobi Meyers: 14 targets, 9 receptions, 94 yards
Hunter Henry: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 36 yards
Nelson Agoholor: 8 targets, 2 receptions, 17 yards
Jonnu Smith: 6 targets, 1 reception, 4 yards
The wide receiving crew in this game had immense ups and downs, but the small gleaning of victory can be seen in the comfort that Mac Jones has found in finding Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne on a consistent clip. Bourne showed some killer sideline prowess on the lone touchdown for the Patriots with some beautiful footwork after a win on a well-contested catch.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 26, 2021
There weren’t many moments like this one, but it’s nice to see Jakobi Meyers continue to show up as the main target in this offense. He’s not quick, nor is he particularly fast, nor does he get much separation, but he does have a knack for finding holes to sit in and poach passes out of the air. The Saints were playing off of him for much of this one, giving him a little extra room to feast on. He is the WR1 in this offense at the moment.
Jonnu Smith had four drops on the day, including the critical pick-six ball. He also had a bad day in the blocking department. He’ll bounce back, but he had a no good, very bad day.
— Matthew Bevins (@MattQbList on Twitter)