The New Orleans Saints had a great chance to defeat a struggling NFC opponent and stay right in the thick of the NFC Wild Card and NFC South playoff contests on Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals. Instead, Andy Dalton threw two pick-sixes to end the second quarter, leaving the Saints at 2-5 and probably on the outside looking in of the playoff chase. Let’s examine some of the most important Saints Week 7 takeaways following that terrible Saints-Cardinals game in prime time.
3. The Saints need Michael Thomas back
Saints supporters are extremely frustrated with the Michael Thomas injury issue, which just won’t go away. The team has the pieces to produce a dangerous, dynamic offence, but there are serious issues at the quarterback position (more on that below).
In a Saints-Cardinals game on Thursday night where running wasn’t encouraged after the second quarter, Alvin Kamara averaged more than four yards per carry. Chris Olave is a top wide receiver in this league with seven catches for 106 yards.
The Saints’ Week 7 game against the Cardinals might have been decided by the addition of another elite wideout, who would have put tremendous pressure on rival defenders.
Although it’s impossible to be certain, Andy Dalton might not throw one of his interceptions if Thomas was the target. And if Thomas had been in, perhaps the Saints would have scored one more touchdown to reduce the margin.
Following his Offensive Player of the Year Award in 2019, Thomas has now missed 30 games over the course of three seasons. The Saints’ offence is at best average if he doesn’t suddenly recover to full health shortly.
2. More Rashid Shaheed, please
Rashid Shaheed is a player, which is the biggest plus for New Orleans on Thursday and the best Saints Week 7 takeaway!
The rookie out of Weber State who went undrafted currently has one touchdown rush of 44 yards and one touchdown reception of 53 yards. He might not be the reincarnation of Randy Moss, but he is undoubtedly a dynamic talent who can have an impact at the NFL level.
Andy Dalton drops a DIME to Rashid Shaheed and we ve got points early on #TNF! #NOvsAZ on Prime Video
Also available on NFL+ https://t.co/aKjbRcE0ca pic.twitter.com/NfH2w9MmIW
— NFL (@NFL) October 21, 2022
The issue is that he only received only two touches and only played 13% and 14% of offensive snaps in his first two games.
To be fair to Dennis Allen and Pete Carmichael, they probably didn’t think Shaheed would score on his first two offensive touches in the NFL from the opposing team’s side of the field. But now that they are aware of it, they should make the necessary adjustments.
The next Saints game plan would better include at least six planned touches for Shaheed because Michael Thomas is sidelined indefinitely. His abilities are important for any team, but for the Saints with their erratic quarterback performance, a player with the ability to score quickly is even more crucial.
In the upcoming days, don’t be shocked if you see #FreeRashidShaeed (or #FeedRashidShaheed) trending on Twitter.
1. Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston are the same guy
Before the Saints’ Week 7 game against the Cardinals, it was a prevalent belief that the squad would be much better off if they had an Andy Dalton-type game manager instead of Jameis Winston.
And perhaps some of that is accurate. The Saints might become a much better squad with the addition of a top-tier game manager. Dalton is no longer that person in 2022, though.
Dalton has guided the Saints to a 1-3 record since Winston left with a 1-2 record. Despite Winston having more yards per game and Dalton having three more touchdowns and one fewer interception in four games as opposed to Winston’s three, the quarterbacks’ statistics are very close.
The main issue is that Dalton is neither better nor worse than his opponent. They are essentially the same person at this point in their careers. Dalton’s back-to-back pick-sixes against the Cardinals on Thursday night were the game-winner, and all Saints supporters are aware of how Winston performs under pressure.
The combined 2-5 record of the Saints’ two quarterbacks poses a serious issue for the team’s future.
Since the NFC is currently quite competitive and no team is dominating either the conference or their division, the Saints might still make a late postseason push if Dalton or Winston can gel. However, it is not a wise move to tank this season.
After a pre-draft transaction last year, the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles now own the first-round pick of the Saints in 2023. This makes the Winston/Dalton saga not just terrible but a complete disaster if the Saints do miss the playoffs and must sit out the quarterback-rich first round of the following year’s draught.
Three things the Saints learned from their Week 7 loss to the Cardinals were first published on ClutchPoints.