The New Orleans Saints have been an interesting team in 2020, to say the least. This was a team heavily favored and considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender going into the start of the season, and got things off to a great start. However, two straight ugly weeks after such a big season-opening win revealed a lot of concerns, while the past two victories haven't exactly boosted confidence in them.
Sitting at 3-2, Sean Payton's team is one you shouldn't count out or write off with a ton of season left. Those teams that start the hottest are not necessarily the ones who will be playing in the postseason, as we've seen over the years. What we do know is the current play isn't good enough and would just lead to an early exit in January anyways.
To help the Saints get where they need to go, here's a few players who need to prove something out of the bye week.
This season hasn't been that great for Hill, but he might have found the spark he needed against the Chargers. Hill's utilization has been questionable at times, as many have wondered why take Drew Brees off the field when he's clearly finding success in the passing game. Hill is still playing a good bit in games, roughly 25 percent of the offensive snaps thus far (84 snaps) and nearly 28 percent of special teams snaps (43). He should find his groove, but we want to see some better decision-making from Hill going forward.
It's been difficult for Davenport to get on the field this season, first struggling with an elbow injury after rehabbing from an offseason foot surgery, and then finding himself dealing with a toe injury. While he didn't play in the first four games, we did get to see him against the Chargers for 21 snaps (30 percent). He was wearing a big brace on his elbow, and actually made some good plays and was moving well. The Saints need Davenport in the pass rush attack, and a good showing against the Panthers could win more back to his side.
It's not fair to just call out one player when there's been so much that's broken down in the secondary, but Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Williams, and Malcolm Jenkins have to get it together back there. Jenkins was brought in to help improve and upgrade things, but it's been a mess through the first several games. Lattimore has not looked like himself and has played like someone who should get a lucrative contract from the Saints, and Williams has been decent at best.
The team got by fine with subs over the past two weeks, but it's the big plays and communication breakdowns that have to stop. It's okay to give up yards, but getting off the field when it counts is what is needed, without a collapse in the secondary. Hopefully, the bye week did them some good to help get some things cleaned up. Getting Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) back on the field can help here. He is certainly on the right path, being a full participant during Wednesday's practice.
Peat battled through what was deemed to be a very serious high-ankle injury that saw him carted off the field against the Packers. Against the run, Peat has been pretty good. However, his pass-blocking grade of 53.2 ranks him 54th out of 73 interior guards on Pro Football Focus. Peat has potential, and there's a reason why the Saints gave him such a lucrative contract in the offseason, but he has yet to show it for a full game this year. He has a lot of critics to silence.