Four Days to Kickoff: 4 Items from Inside the Saints
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers will play the New Orleans Saints in a battle of NFC heavyweights on Sunday night at the Superdome. Let’s get to know the foe with Kyle T. Mosley of SI.com’s Saints News Network.
1. ‘Tis the season when old quarterbacks who have a subpar game or two are called washed up. I think Tom Brady's run into this for the last half-dozen years. Drew Brees has led the NFL in completion percentage the last three seasons but is 21st through two games. What are you seeing from the legendary quarterback?
Accuracy has been Brees’ forte throughout his career. I believe the lack of offseason workouts with his receivers has been the issue. Against the Raiders, it appeared Brees overthrew tight end Josh Hill. Actually, Hill stopped running his route. But he has been out-of-sync. I expect Brees and coach Sean Payton will correct this soon.
2. Green Bay’s offense is rolling. On paper, the Saints’ defense looks like it should be pretty good. What is that side of the ball doing well, where is it struggling, and how will it stop Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones?
The Saints’ defensive weakness is their depth in the secondary. After cornerbacks, Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins, the unit has a drop-off. They played poorly against the Raiders on Monday after having a strong first game against the Buccaneers. The defensive front seven has been outstanding by preventing 100-plus-yards rushers in 45 consecutive games. That streak was secured when it held Raiders running back Josh Jacobs to 88 yards on Monday night. The key will be pressuring Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offensive line. If Rodgers can survey the defense and pick apart the Saints’ secondary without feeling uncomfortable, it will be a long night for New Orleans.
3. Are the Saints screwed after this season? They’re in the neighborhood of $80 million over next year’s cap. I know they’ve done a great job of living year to year but $80 million seems to be quite a challenge.
Executive Vice President/GM Mickey Loomis and Vice President of Football Administration Khai Harley are great at restructuring contracts and moving money around to pay players under the cap. However, 2021 is another story. There may be a few cap casualties for the team. Expect Loomis to focus on the key contributors like Lattimore and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk to extend their contracts first. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins will become a free agent and may be allowed to test the market. Brees, defensive end Cam Jordan, left tackle Terron Armstead, receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, quarterback Taysom Hill and Jenkins are projected for eight-figure paydays in 2021. Hence, these players’ contracts and several others may be targets for restructuring or termination.
4. In Rodgers’ two starts at the Superdome, they've been run out of the building by Brees and Co. They’ll catch a huge break here with no fans and, perhaps, no Michael Thomas. How do you see this game playing out and give me a final score?
Again, if the Saints cannot get to Rodgers early and often, the Packers can win. If New Orleans can convert a turnover or two, then the Saints win. After the “Monday Night Football” debacle, I expect Payton, Brees, Jordan and this Saints team to be primed and ready to take on Mr. Rodgers in their neighborhood. Saints win 38-31.