What We Saw: Week 18

Week 18 was one of the craziest of the season thanks to Jacksonville's stout defense

Saints @ Falcons

Final Score: Saints 30, Falcons 20

Writer: Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter)


The Saints jumped out to an early lead and lead throughout, ultimately missing out on the playoffs after the 49ers defeated the Rams. Taysom Hill was injured in the second quarter, and Trevor Siemian entered and ran a ball-control offense to hold on for the win. Mike Davis had two crucial fumbles, and Matt Ryan was often under pressure against a very good Saints defense, as the Falcons have some big off-season decisions to make in the coming months.


New Orleans Saints




Tayson Hill: 7/9, 107 yards, TD | 5 carries, 18 yards

Trevor Siemian: 9/15, 71 yards, 2 TD, sack | 2 carries, -1 yard


Taysom Hill capped off the opening drive of the game with a passing touchdown to Adam Trautman off of play-action. It was a run-heavy, traditional offense, with primarily short passes and Alvin Kamara handoffs.

Hill started the next drive with tons of time in the pocket, completing downfield for a big gain. Later in the drive, he had all day off of play-action and just missed a deep shot in between the safeties. The drive ended as he gave Marquez Callaway a chance in the end zone with single coverage, but the receiver couldn’t keep his feet and the Saints’ kicker missed a short field goal.



Hill completed a big 3rd and 9 with another nice pocket, finding Tre’Quan Smith after going through his progressions. He began to run more often on the drive, but on his third straight rush came up with an injury, and was done for the day. It is being called a Lisfranc injury for Hill.

Trevor Siemian entered and fired incomplete for the endzone on the next play into coverage, but the Saints would pick up a first down on the next play with a defensive holding on third down. Siemian took yet another shot the next play, giving Smith a shot with one on one coverage, and the receiver hauled it in for a touchdown and a 14-6 lead.

Siemian’s next drive saw a roughing the passer extend a drive after an unsuccessful third down, and the Saints began to lean on the run, settling for a field goal to make it 17-6 near the end of the half.

Siemian was not safe with the football, taking shots into coverage downfield and nearly losing a fumble on a fake. The offense clearly took a step back when he entered, and doesn’t look like a starting option for this offense going forward.


Running Back


Alvin Kamara: 30 carries, 146 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards

Tony Jones Jr.: 7 carries, 22 yards | 1 target


Alvin Kamara started the game by ripping a physical, 20+ yard run on the first drive. Kamara showed good footwork and physicality on his runs, and was able to break multiple big gains after contact.



Kamara was used to grind out the clock throughout, and while the running game wasn’t consistent all game, Kamara made chunk plays and kept the chains moving, and had a nice third and long effort in the fourth quarter, running patient and extending for the first to help salt the game away. He was not a factor in the passing game, and the Saints completed just 16 passes all game.

Tony Jones Jr. was the clear backup running back and came in to spell Kamara, but was mainly a plodder in this one and didn’t flash many positive plays.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Tre’Quan Smith: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 76 yards, TD

Deonte Harris: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 24 yards | 1 carry, 9 yards

Marquez Callaway: 1 target

Lil’Jordan Humphrey: 1 target, 1 reception, 26 yards

Adam Trautman: 1 target, 1 reception, 18 yards, TD

Juwan Johnson: 2 targets, 1 reception, 5 yards, TD


Marquez Callaway had a shot for a big touchdown with one on one coverage and got past his defender, but lost his feet as the pass fell incomplete. That was his only target of the game.

Tre’Quan Smith was a consistent option in the intermediate passing game, and just missed a jump ball in the end zone for a second touchdown in the third quarter. He was the Saints’ best pass-catcher, and while he doesn’t look like a true number one option, he could be a contributor as a secondary piece.



Deonte Harris was the most reliable option after Smith, catching short passes and moving the chains.


Atlanta Falcons




Matt Ryan: 20/33, 216 yards, TD, INT, 3 sacks | 1 carry, 2 yards


Matt Ryan started out with some tough conversions to Russell Gage on the opening drive, but ultimately missed high on a chance to Kyle Pitts and then took a sack to set up a long field goal.

Ryan hit a big play off of play-action to Olamide Zaccheaus, showing off his ability when he has time, but was rushed on 3rd and 3 and fired incomplete.



Down 14-6, Ryan forced a go ball down the sideline for Gage, but there was no opening and the pass was intercepted. It’s probably a pass that shouldn’t be made considering the situation and the intended target.



With a 3rd and 4 in the red zone in the third quarter, the Falcons ran on third down and had an incomplete pass on a 4th and 2 shovel pass, showing a relative lack of trust in Ryan. On the next drive, Ran was nearly intercepted throwing deep to a receiver with single coverage yet no separation but followed it by fitting a pass into single coverage deep down the sideline on the next play.

Ryan was stripped from behind attempting a comeback from down 17 in the fourth quarter on first down and had a poor incompletion on a pass that could have been intercepted to end the drive with a quick three and out.

Ryan was sacked again on the next drive, but extended the drive on one of his better plays of the game on 4th and 2, where he climbed the pocket, bought time, and lofted the ball downfield to Gage. Ryan might have something left in the tank, but with a poor offensive line, poor running game, and lack of top-end pass-catching options, he looks a step slow, making it hard to fully judge Ryan. He definitely needs better protection, however, which should be a priority in the offseason.


Running Back


Mike Davis: 6 carries, 30 yards, 2 fumbles | 3 targets, 3 receptions, -2 yards

Cordarrelle Patterson: 4 carries, 11 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 1 yard

Qadree Ollison: 1 carry, 19 yards, TD | 1 target


Mike Davis had a tough fumble at the end of the half on a reception to set up a short field, which turned out to be a real back-breaker, leading to a touchdown that would make it 24-6. After a Saints field goal to make it a 14 point game, Davis fumbled on yet another reception, as a defender caught him from behind and stripped it for another killer fumble.



The Falcons listed Davis as questionable to return with a rib injury after the second fumble. Davis didn’t flash any positive plays, making his negative plays even more unacceptable.

Cordarrelle Patterson caught his only pass of the game on the opening drive, bobbing and weaving all over the field for just one yard. He was barely seen for the remainder of the game, and his fall from grace was just as fast as his ascension to the tops of the fantasy ranks was to start the season


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Russell Gage: 13 targets, 9 receptions, 126 yards, TD

Olamide Zaccheaus: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 47 yards

Kyle Pitts: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 8 yards

Tajae Sharpe: 2 targets

Hayden Hurst: 1 target, 1 reception, 33 yards


Russell Gage was targeted often downfield and made some tough catches, and even had a nice run on a jet sweep where he hurdled a defender. Gage worked downfield over the middle of the field and found spots in the zone, and was their best offensive player.



Gage caught a pass to the one-yard line late in the game, and then caught a short touchdown on the next play off of motion. Gage shouldn’t be a team’s number one option, but he does look like a legit NFL wide receiver.

Kyle Pitts saw very few chances in the first half and was double-covered on a third-down target early in the 3rd quarter that fell incomplete. Pitts had a catch on the final fourth-quarter drive and had a back shoulder target later on that was incomplete.


Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter)

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