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Saints Mid-Season Awards: An SNN Roundtable

The Saints News Network staff gives you our mid-season awards for the first half of the Saints 2021 season.
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With a 17th regular season game added to the NFL schedule this season, there isn't an exact midway portion to the NFL year. The New Orleans Saints come into week 10 with a 5-3 record and in second place in the NFC South.

New Orleans has had an unbelievable amount of obstacles over the first three months of the year. Legendary QB Drew Brees retired this offseason, coupled with several personnel losses on both sides of the ball that thinned the team's depth.

That depth was tested further by a rash of injuries that battered the offense and defense. All-Pro WR Michael Thomas will not play a down this year because of offseason ankle surgery. QB Jameis Winston was lost for the year with a knee injury suffered during a week 8 win over Tampa Bay.

Let’s not forget the impact of Hurricane Ida to the entire region. Ida displaced team operations to Texas and didn't allow New Orleans to play in the Superdome until October 3.

The Saints have battled through these hurdles, along with their own inconsistencies on the field, to have a winning record as they eye the back end of the season. Here are the mid-season awards from the Saints News Network staff.

MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER

Kyle Mosley: Marquez Callaway, WR 

John Hendrix: Adam Trautman, TE

Brendan Boylan: Adam Trautman, TE

Bob Rose: Adam Trautman, TE

Saints TE Adam Trautman (82) drops a pass against the Atlanta Falcons. Credit: Nola.com

Saints TE Adam Trautman (82) drops a pass against the Atlanta Falcons. Credit: Nola.com

What John Says:

Most Disappointing Player: The Saints were expecting a huge leap from a lot of players, but perhaps a bigger one was placed on tight end Adam Trautman. While he is coveted as a commodity in the running game, his target share and stats leave a lot to the imagination. We tend to place a big emphasis on that position, and whoever is there will always have to live up to lofty expectations.

What Brendan Says:

This summer I tabbed Trautman as a fantasy sleeper due to his rise to being a starter for the New Orleans Saints. With his great blend of size, speed, hands and above average inline blocking, the former Patriot League Player of the year was poised for a breakout season. 

However it has been nothing close to that. Trautman’s inexcusable drops and multiple inopportune holding calls have put an exclamation point of Trautman’s disappointing start to his sophomore season.

What Bob Says:

New Orleans traded four Day 3 picks in 2020 NFL draft to move into the third round to select Trautman. The specific strategy was to have him take over the starting role from Jared Cook in 2021. So far, the strategy is a miserable failure.

On an offense in desperate need of productive pass catchers, Trautman has dropped several passes and has just 15 receptions on 26 targets for 151 yards. His blocking has improved in recent weeks, but he’s also been extremely inconsistent in that aspect.

MOST SURPRISING PLAYER

Kyle Mosley: Deonte Harris, WR

John Hendrix: Marshon Lattimore, CB

Brendan Boylan: Paulson Adebo, CB

Bob Rose: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (90). Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (90). Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

What John Says:

Most Surprising Player: Hear me out, but it’s Marshon Lattimore. We knew Lattimore was good, but the contract extension also made a few people nervous, thinking he was going to regress. He’s overcome an ugly off-the-field incident and then a thumb issue and has played at an elite level. 

Lattimore has been a force on the outside, and it’s a huge reason the Saints defense and secondary performs well. Put it this way, you can manage a lot of losses on this team, but Lattimore is the one guy that would be hard to replace.

What Brendan Says:

When New Orleans drafted Adebo in April’s draft the assumption was that he would not be thrusted into a starting role as a rookie and given time to develop. Because of injury that was not the case.  Adebo has not just held his own but has played well enough to earn the starting job over Bradley Roby, who the Saints traded for prior to Week 1. The Stanford product has still shown flashes of being young in the league but his upside make sit look like the Saints found another draft day gem.

What Bob Says:

It’s not necessarily surprising, because I loved the offseason signing of Kpassagnon. He leads the team with 4 sacks and has 10 pressures, 3 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble.

Kpassagnon has been a versatile member of the defensive front, excelling along the edge and at defensive tackle. With injuries to ends Marcus Davenport, Payton Turner, Carl Granderson, a suspension of DT David Onyemata, and a slow start by Cam Jordan, Kpassagnon has been an underappreciated rock up front.

MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER

Kyle Mosley: Erik McCoy, C

John Hendrix: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE

Brendan Boylan: James Hurst, G/T

Bob Rose: Deonte Harris, WR

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Deonte Harris (11) returns a kick against New York Giants. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Deonte Harris (11) returns a kick against New York Giants. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY

What John Says:

Most Underrated Player: For me, it’s Tanoh Kpassagnon. We get caught up in how much the pass rush does and doesn’t, but he’s someone who just puts in the work and does things week after week to get noticed.

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Prior to the game against Atlanta, he was playing in 40 percent or more of the team’s snaps. For whatever reason, that took a dip against the Falcons (17 snaps - 29 percent). They needed to get it going, and he’s a player that can help here, especially with Payton Turner going on IR and Carl Granderson coming back from a shoulder injury. In an offseason that wasn’t too exciting or flashy, this is a move they got right.

What Brendan Says:

OL James Hurst. When Andrus Peat went down to injury many expected Calvin Throkmorton to step into the LG role similarly to how he filled in at RG when Erik McCoy was out of the lineup. However, Sean Payton went with the veteran Hurst who has played very well at guard for New Orleans. Hurst has consistently graded out as one of the Saints bets offensive players in his small sample size and should get the nod at LT in place of the injured Terron Armstead against the Titans.

What Bob Says:

We’ve come down pretty hard on the Saints receiving corps, and rightly so. Outside of Alvin Kamara though, Deonte Harris has been the most consistent offensive player. Harris has 21 receptions for a team-high 323 yards and 2 touchdowns despite missing a game and a half.

Everyone knows about Harris' gamebreaking speed. He’s the league's most dangerous kick returner and has been crucial to the team in that aspect. People don't realize what a good route runner he is, something that will make him an even bigger part of the offense down the stretch.

2ND HALF BREAKOUT CANDIDATE

Kyle Mosley: Mark Ingram, RB

John Hendrix: Adam Trautman, TE

Brendan Boylan: Cam Jordan, DE

Bob Rose: Marcus Davenport, DE

New Orleans Saints center Erik McCoy (78) blocks for running back Mark Ingram II (14) against Tampa Bay. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY 

New Orleans Saints center Erik McCoy (78) blocks for running back Mark Ingram II (14) against Tampa Bay. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY 

What John Says:

2nd Half Breakout Candidate: Believe it or not, I am going to double down and go with Adam Trautman. I keep thinking back to Jared Cook and his tough start when he got to New Orleans as a free agent, and then we all remember how much he caught fire in the back half of the season. 

It’s hard to say that Trautman will have that type of season, but I do believe he’ll have some big value and upside in the red zone and be important in moving the chains. The return of Nick Vannett may be one of best things to happen to him.

What Brendan Says:

DE Cameron Jordan. Personally I think Cam has had a strong start to the season despite the sack numbers not being there. Jordan consistently hounds the passer, and remains one of the best defensive ends against the run. With the return of David Onyemata and a healthy Marcus Davenport on the other side, more 1v1 opportunities should open up for Jordan in the second half of the season. 

Once the sack numbers return to Cam's regular form, fans across the league will be reminded of how valuable the six-time Pro Bowler is to New Orleans. 

What Bob Says:

Kyle's choice of Ingram makes a lot of sense, especially if Kamara's knee injury lingers. I’m going with Davenport because of the tremendous impact he has when he’s on the field. His health will be the key, as it’s always been.

After a tremendous preseason, Davenport was a major disruptive force in the season opener against Green Bay before getting injured yet again. In the three games since his return, he’s had a sack, 4 pressures, a tackle for loss, and a fumble forced.

Davenport commands multiple blockers when he’s on the field, freeing up opportunities for the other defenders. I expect him to create chaos for offenses over the second half of the season.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Kyle Mosley: Alvin Kamara, RB

John Hendrix: Offensive Line 

Brendan Boylan: Alvin Kamara, RB

Bob Rose: Demario Davis, LB

New Orleans Saints back Alvin Kamara (41) jumps through a hole against Atlanta. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints back Alvin Kamara (41) jumps through a hole against Atlanta. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

What John Says:

MVP: Alvin Kamara is the easy choice, but I’m going to go with the offensive line, actually. This is a line that has had a lot of different looks week after week, and they’ve overcome those injuries with the ‘next man up’ mentality. Naturally, it hasn’t been perfect, but they’ve been key in getting the run game going and keeping the pocket clean.

If you didn’t have the protection and blocking like the Saints have had, then there’s no telling how bad things could have been. It’s not a complete byproduct of the success, but they deserve some love and praise for the job they’ve done.

What Brendan Says:

The Saints offense has been mediocre throughout the season.  Frankly, without Kamara's performance, it may be non-existent. 

The $75 million dollar man is proving to be worth every penny and has truly taken over as the face of the franchise. 

What Bob Says:

New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis (56) waits for a snap against the Seattle Seahawks. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis (56) waits for a snap against the Seattle Seahawks. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

It angers me that Demario Davis doesn't get mentioned among the NFL's best all-around defensive players. He’s been an absolute force during the four years he’s been with the Saints, and he’s in the middle of his best season.

On a very good defense, Davis leads in tackles, solo stops, tackles for loss, is second in QB hits and sacks, and has broken up 4 passes. He’s a devastating blitzer, can cover backs, tight ends, and even receivers down the field.

There is not a better defensive player against the run. Davis makes plays in traffic, expertly sheds blockers, and has the speed to chase down plays in the open field.

People are finally starting to recognize Davis' remarkable leadership. He’s been the key component in this team's ability to overcome the obstacles they have to remain competitive. His bone-jarring hits consistently change the momentum of a game.

The 2021 New Orleans Saints will go only as far as their talented defense carries them. Demario Davis is the centerpiece of this outstanding unit, and the entire team.