Week 1 Saints snap counts and observations

John Hendrix

The New Orleans Saints started their season out on the right foot, silencing the Tom Brady-Buccaneers hype for at least one week. As expected, it was a pretty sloppy game, but the coaching adjustments and lack of mistakes by Sean Payton's squad ended up being the biggest difference in producing a win. Here's a look at the snap counts, playing time percentages, and some thoughts on several players.

Offense

  • Andrus Peat, Nick Easton, Ryan Ramczyk, Erik McCoy, Terron Armstead - 68 (100%)
    The Saints offensive line surrendered just one sack on Drew Brees. Overall, the Saints ran it 34 times for 82 yards (2.4 average). There were too many negative yardage plays, but that wasn't totally on the line. Sean Payton openly took blame for some of his play calling on Sunday.
  • Drew Brees - 66 (98%)
    Drew Brees didn't have a great game, and he knows that and admitted in his post game press conference. However, he still posted a 96.5 quarterback rating after going 18-of-30 for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brees hit a few big plays, but had a stretch where he was 3-of-12 at one point. The plays off featured Taysom Hill.
  • Michael Thomas - 55 (81%)
    Thomas had one of his worst games with the Saints, catching just 3 balls for 17 yards on 5 targets. While it probably didn't help your fantasy football team, consider it just a blip on the radar. He should bounce back in a big way, and another way to look at it is that the Saints put 34 points up without CGM being a factor.
  • Alvin Kamara - 45 (66%)
    Fresh off a new contract, Alvin Kamara had a pretty good day for the Saints. He wasn't a big factor in the run game, totaling just 16 yards (long of 6), but hauled in 5 catches for 51 yards on 8 targets. The biggest thing for AK was two touchdowns (almost a third).
  • Tre'Quan Smith, Jared Cook - 44 (65%)
    Smith was practically a non-factor on the stat sheet (1-4), while Cook was spectacular and arguably the best offensive player on the field. Cook finished with 5 catches for 80 yards on 7 targets, which included a huge 46-yard connection from Brees to set up a Saints score. On a day where a lot of the big names were covered up, Cook delivered in a big way.
  • Josh Hill - 36 (53%)
  • Emmanuel Sanders - 33 (49%)
    Sanders' debut wasn't spectacular on the stat sheet (3-15-TD), but made a key play to help get a Saints first down that was immediately followed up by his first touchdown with New Orleans. He became the 70th different player to catch a TD pass from Brees.
  • Latavius Murray - 23 (34%)
    Murray was a bright spot in the team's running game (15-48), and had a few good runs. He's quietly showing everyone how good of a pickup he was last season, and shouldn't be forgotten about due to the Kamara extension.
  • Taysom Hill - 17 (25%)
    Taysom Hill got the game going with a 14-yard catch from Drew Brees. Contrary to what we probably believed at first, he lined up everywhere. He had 3 rushes for 13 yards and a pass for 38 yards to Kamara in addition to the catch. Hill also appeared in 12 special teams snaps.
  • Michael Burton - 17 (25%)
  • Bennie Fowler, Deonte Harris, Adam Trautman - 7 (10%)
    One of two players brought up from the practice squad ahead of the game, and he had a key kick recovery that set the Saints up for points. Harris had a 9-yard rush and a 17-yard reception, and looked strong on his punt returns. Any time he touches the ball, the Saints have a good chance of getting great field position because of him.
  • Ty Montgomery - 4 (6%)
  • Derrick Kelly - 3 (4%)

Defense

  • Malcolm Jenkins, Marcus Williams, Marshon Lattimore, Demario Davis - 70 (100%)
    The Saints defense looked after a shaky first series. Malcolm Jenkins showed immediately what he's going to bring to the table, while Marcus Williams had a big interception and Lattimore Island held Mike Evans in check. Demario Davis, who we discovered signed a 3-year extension with the team during the broadcast, had a good game as well. However, that's nothing new.
  • Janoris Jenkins - 64 (91%)
    Jenkins made a huge play for the Saints, having a pick-6 against Tom Brady. As he disclosed after the game, it was a route the defense was expecting. Jenkins was also second on the team in tackles with 9.
  • C.J. Gardner-Johnson - 61 (87%)
    Ceedy Duce led all Saints defenders with a career-high 10 total tackles (9 solo, 1 assisted). He also had a pass breakup at the line.
  • Cam Jordan - 60 (86%)
  • Alex Anzalone - 50 (71%)
    A healthy Alex Anzalone is a treasure for the Saints defense, and Sunday was a good reason why.
  • Sheldon Rankins - 43 (61%)
    No tackles or sacks for Rankins, but there were some real good pressures he had on Sunday. He finished with two quarterback hits. If he can keep it going all season, then watch out.
  • David Onyemata - 40 (57%)
  • Trey Hendrickson - 39 (56%)
    Hendrickson should have had two sacks on the day, but settled for just the one. In a game that didn't have Marcus Davenport, he stepped in big for Dennis Allen's defense.
  • D.J. Swearinger - 34 (49%)
  • Carl Granderson, Malcolm Roach - 23 (33%)
    Granderson got a sack/fumble on Brady (Tampa recovered), but showed some good stuff in the snaps played. Roach showed up more than a few times, looking very impressive on the day. The UDFA passes his first test with flying colors.
  • Margus Hunt - 21 (30%)
    The veteran was also called up from the practice squad and made a key field goal block for the Saints. His lone defensive tackle was a TFL. 
  • Malcom Brown - 20 (29%)
  • Patrick Robinson - 9 (13%)
  • Kaden Elliss - 3 (4%)
    The Saints rolling with heavy nickel and dime coverage was a reason why Elliss didn't see a lot of the field. Zack Baun was inactive, so we'll just have to see how this one plays out. Elliss did appear in 22 special teams snaps.

Special Teams (Top Reps)

  • Craig Robertson - 27
  • Justin Hardee - 26
  • J.T. Gray, Ty Montgomery - 23
  • Kaden Elliss - 22
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