Following a dismal performance in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints (2-1) bounced back in Week 3, defeating the New England Patriots (1-2) in Foxboro by the score of 28-13.
In the victory, the New Orleans defense picked off Patriots quarterback Mac Jones three times, including one pick-six. The Saints running back Alvin Kamara led the way, collecting over 100 scrimmage yards and scoring the game's opening touchdown.
Below are my three takeaways from the Saints second victory of the 2021 NFL Regular Season.
A New Era of the Saints' Offensive Attack
For 15 years Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints offense dominated the Air, seeing Drew Brees and company finishing among the league's best in passing yards year in and year out. However, since Brees' retirement this offseason, it appears that the recipe for success has been altered.
Despite having one of the league's strongest armed quarterbacks Jameis Winston, New Orleans has yet to see the former Heisman Trophy winner attempt more than 22 passes in his first three starts with the Saints. Rather the Saints have committed to running the football with a backfield headlined by Alvin Kamara.
Saints football has always been efficiency and physicality up front. Those are the only things I knew, so... That's all I know. They win up front and they play tough. That's what we did here.
In the Saints' two victories this season, the Saints have carried the ball 39 and 37 times, respectively. In those games, the Saints have tallied 171 and 142 rushing yards. A rush-dominant offense is among us in New Orleans, perhaps a first under Sean Payton.
Adversity Became Opportunity
The New Orleans Saints have faced adversity since halfway through the preseason. Hurricane Ida displaced the Saints, who have stayed and practiced in Dallas/TCU since late August. The storm's effects also forced the Black and Gold to play a "home game" in Jacksonville Week 1.
Week 2 brought more adversity, including missing a handful of starters and eight coaches in an embarrassing loss to the Carolina Panthers. The Saints faced a crossroads early in the season. Which team would show up to face the Patriots? The team that demolished the Green Bay Packers? Or, the team that came out flat against the Carolina Panthers?
Saints great Drew Brees once said, “Anyone can see the adversity in a difficult situation, but it takes a stronger person to see the opportunity.” New Orleans saw the adversity they have faced over the last 28 days as an opportunity to build momentum and represent their city.
"I think we proved that we can handle a lot of chaos. If you play in the NFL long enough, you are going to have trials, you're going to have different things that come up. What shows a good, resilient team is how you handle chaos and difficult situations. This goes from the top down, from management to the equipment guy, our trainers, everyone is all in. We have a really resilient team that knows what it takes to know how to prepare to play a football game no matter where."
In Week 3, the Saints showed resilience, the ability to take ownership and bounce back, and execute the game plan to near perfection. The Black and Gold have already proved they are ready for anything thrown their way in 2021.
The Saints Will Go as Far as the Defense Leads Them
If Week 2 and 3 showed us anything about the Saints, Marshon Lattimore, C.J Gardner-Johnson, and Defensive Line depth are to the New Orleans Saints. With players returning across the Bayou Boys' defense against the Patriots, the Black and Gold returned to form, causing havoc throughout Sunday afternoon.
New Orleans racked up two sacks, six tackles for loss, 11 QB hits, eight pass breakups, and three interceptions, including a pick-six against rookie quarterback Mac Jones. The opportunistic defense mirrored its Week 1 performance and yet again lived up to the offseason hype echoed by so many Saints and National Media reporters and analysts.
We're real stingy on defense, we take the ball away, we give our offense opportunities. Then when we get our special teams contributing as well like they have. We're going to be hard to beat. We think the heart of our team is going to be is on our defense."
As I mentioned above, New Orleans is turning a new leaf, and with this "new era" Saints offense still working out some of its early-season struggles, the defense will have to be relied on the week in and week out. It sounds like the Saints' defense is already well aware of that and is ready for the challenge.
We are just three weeks into the season, but it looks like for the first time in a long, long time, the Saints defense might be scarier than the offense, which is a frightening thought considering both the offense and defense are yet at full strength.
Watch out, the Saints are coming and behind a packed Superdome... this defense could be one of the most feared in the league.
Follow Saints News Network’s Writer, Brendan Boylan, on Twitter & Instagram at @btboylan.
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