After an 0-2 start to the season, the New Orleans Saints have gone on a six-game winning streak to finish the first half with a lofty 6-2 record. There has been plenty to celebrate in the Big Easy and expectations are high for this young, exciting team. It’s crazy to think the Saints haven’t played 60 minutes of great football yet. The Saints are playing their most exciting football in quite some time, but are nowhere near perfect.
2017 New Orleans Saints: Biggest Mid-Season Surprises and Disappointments
To better understand where the Saints stand at the mid-way point of the season, we asked some Saints writers and media members to tell us what they view as the biggest surprises and disappointments of the 2017 season. What’s amazing is how different some of the opinions are.
Tyler Raymond (Writer for WhoDatDish.com and Host of the WhoDatDish Podcast @TheWDDPodcast – Twitter @RaymondTylerM)
I believe the biggest surprise of the New Orleans Saints so far in 2017 has to be the defense, more specifically cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
Lattimore, who was selected 11th in the 2017 NFL Draft, was projected eventually to have an impact on this defense, but nobody expected his impact to come so soon. Lattimore’s confidence, immediate presence, and overwhelming playmaking ability has been something this Saints defense has never seen, especially out of a rookie cornerback. Here’s a couple of statistics to further prove the incredibleness that is Lattimore.
Marshon Lattimore has more interception return yards this year (52) than yards given up in man coverage (48).
Recently Lattimore was recognized as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month (October).
Here are Marshon Lattimore’s stats in October
- 16 tackles (12 solo)
- two interceptions, including a pick six
- five pass deflections
- one forced fumble
- one fumble recovery
The whole world is finally watching the greatness that is this talented rookie cornerback.
As of right now I believe the biggest disappointment for the 2017 Saints has to be wide receiver Willie Snead. Once upon a time, Snead played a large role in this dynamic offense. Being heavily utilized as the go-to guy, especially on third down conversions, Snead was the man with the plan for the Saints. Unfortunately this season, Snead was not only suspended for the first three games but is slowly coming to form after a persistent, nagging hamstring injury.
The Saints play their best football offensively when they have all of their playmakers present, and that most definitely includes Snead. Hopefully as he recovers, Snead will be re-acclimated into this offense that will surely help to fix the woes, and kinks that causes stuttering at times.
Allen Ulrich (Host of the Under the Dome Podcast @underthedomepo1 – Twitter @79Saints)
Coby Fleener. The popular myth is that Drew Brees and Sean Payton’s offense makes the Saints receivers. However, as we have seen with draft picks such as Nick Toon and Adrian Arrington, Fleener has failed to take advantage of opportunities presented to him in a tight end friendly offense.
With Snead out due to suspension and subsequent hamstring injury, Fleener has been unable to win that job as the third receiver –and it shows as the Saints are either at the middle or near the bottom of the league on third down conversions (when they have traditionally been a leader). Likewise, the Saints have been struggling in the red zone, settling for too many field goals.
Fleener’s struggles helped fan the flames of Jimmy Graham returning to the Saints trade rumors last month.
Chris Rosvoglou (Host of WhoDat in NYC Podcast @WhoDatinNYC – Twitter @ChrisRosvoglou)
I know everyone is quick to talk about Lattimore and the job he has done as a rookie. However, as great as he’s been I’d say the biggest surprise for me has to be the play of Ken Crawley. The second-year corner has been fantastic since stepping in for an underperforming PJ Williams. Last season it was Crawley who was the scapegoat for several Saints losses including the ones against the Raiders and Giants. Fast forward to 2017 and he has turned into an unsung hero for this revitalized defense. In fact, Ken Crawley has been such an important part of the secondary that it takes away the sting of losing Delvin Breaux.
While the Saints have seen success from several new faces on offense, the lack of production from Snead has to be frustrating for Sean Payton. This is a guy who had over 1,800 receiving yards and 141 receptions over the last two seasons. Not only did he get suspended for three games, but he also has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury. Even though Payton expects to use him down the stretch, Snead has been a dull spot in a bright offense.
Ian Riise (Writer for LastWordOnSports.com – Twitter @HomesickWhoDat)
The defensive rookies have been outstanding as well. Lattimore is playing as well as any cornerback in the league, and opposing quarterbacks haven’t been throwing near safety Marcus Williams much either. Defensive end Trey Hendrickson has two sacks as a rotational player, and linebacker Alex Anzalone made some good plays before his injury.