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By: Luke Hubbard
With the bye week, we thought it’d be a good time to grade all the offensive position groups.
With the New Orleans Saints bye week this week and the season being a little over halfway done, I thought it would be a good time to go through and grade how every offensive position group has played so far this season.
Look, I know it’s “in” right now to hate on Derek Carr because he hasn’t played to level most expected him to, but I don’t think he’s been as downright bad as everyone is making him out to be.
In ten games, Carr is averaging 223.1 yards, 1 touchdown and .5 interceptions per game. That is nowhere near where many hoped he be at this point in the season, but there’s no denying that he’s made a few game winning throws for the Saints this season.
In the first two weeks, Carr hit Shaheed late in the game to all but seal the victory. In both situations, if he didn’t connect on those long pass plays, the Saints offense very well could’ve given the ball back to the opponent who would’ve then had the chance to score the game winning touchdown or field goal.
Against Green Bay, Carr had the Saints out to a 17-point lead before getting hurt and Jameis Winston came in and was unable to move the ball. He then came back the next week way too early and played one of the worst games of his career against Tampa Bay.
While the defense did most of the work against the Patriots, Carr was serviceable, and two weeks later against Jacksonville, he led the Saints back from a 24-9 deficit, and if it weren’t for a dropped touchdown, the Saints would’ve won that game.
I get that Jameis is fun to cheer for and he makes some throws that Carr would never even think of (i.e. that throw to A.T. Perry last week that had absolutely 0 business being caught), but the truth is, he isn’t a starting caliber quarterback in this league. He turns the ball over way too much, and whether you like it or not, Carr is the Saints starting quarterback for this season and next.
I know it sounds like I’m advocating for the guy, but I gave him a C grade for a reason. He’s been mediocre at best, but he’s been better than what the Saints have had since Brees retired.
Wide Receiver: B-
I fumbled around with this one for a bit, but I ultimately ended on a B- grade for the wide receivers.
Chris Olave has shown flashes of being a top-15 pick, Michael Thomas has been a bit underwhelming, but for the most part consistent, and Rashid Shaheed is just lightning in a bottle and is so fun to watch.
I think this grade would be much higher if it weren’t for Pete Carmichael’s play calling and mediocre QB play, but that’s what we have to work with, so their grade has to reflect that.
Olave started the season as hot as anybody in the NFL not named Tyreek Hill, but it seems he and Carr have had some relationship issues. From the Tampa Bay game through the Colts game, Olave was in a slump, but he’s looked more and more like himself the past couple weeks. If he can get over whatever problems he and Carr have and start giving 100% effort on every play, he has the talent to be a very, very good wide receiver, but his emotions are getting the best of him and we’re not seeing what he truly can be.
It’s time to except that prime Michael Thomas was wasted by trying to play through an injury in the playoffs years ago. That same ankle injury has been nagging at him for years, but even now that he’s fully healthy again, he looks like a shell of himself. Thomas is still a very high end WR2 who can still make those same tough catches while covered, but he gets nearly no separation and is forced to make the tough catch almost every time. I love MT as much as anyone, but his prime is over, and the Saints may move on from him soon.
Now let’s talk about everyone’s favorite Saints receiver, Rashid Shaheed. While he doesn’t always put up the best stats, it’s hard to argue that he isn’t the most fun WR on the Saints roster to watch. Every time he touches the ball defenses hold their breath because he has breakaway speed and is a threat to score every time, he has the ball. His 16.9 yards per catch is among the tops in the league, and I really hope the Saints retain him for as long as possible.
Running Backs: C-
Arguably the most disappointing group of them all has to be the running backs. Before the season, we were all hyping them up as one of the best units in the NFL, but that just hasn’t been the case this season. Obviously, this group has been hindered by terrible offensive line play all season, but like I said for the WR’s, this is what we have, so the grade has to reflect that.
Alvin Kamara is averaging nearly 100 yards per game since his return, but he still just hasn’t looked like the Kamara of old. He’s averaging 3.7 yards per carry and 6.1 yards per catch, both of which are pretty poor compared to what we’re used to. Pete Carmichael still seems to not understand how to use Kamara as a receiver, and behind this offensive line, there’s almost no chance for him to get anything going on the ground.
The Jamaal Williams signing had us all doing backflips this offseason. Finally, the Saints found their new Mark Ingram to compliment Kamara in the backfield, right?
Nope. Instead, the NFL’s rushing touchdown leader from a year ago has seen next to no work, and when he’s been on the field, he’s averaging 2.9 yards per carry and has yet to score a touchdown. This is another situation where the offense is completely misusing him, and the offensive line is giving him no room to work with. It’s sad, but it’s the reality we live in with this year’s Saints team.
And then there’s Kendre Miller. The rookie from TCU was supposed to come in and be a fresh set of legs for this older backfield, but instead, he just keeps getting injured and hasn’t been able to stay on the field. When he is healthy, he’s averaging 3.0 yards per carry and has seen 37 total touches.
Overall, this backfield has been very disappointing, but so has the rest of the offense, so you can’t really blame them.
Tight End: D
This isn’t really anyone’s fault, but with Juwan Johnson’s injury, the tight end room hasn’t done much.
Foster Moreau and Juwan Johnson have combined for 25 catches for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson led the team in touchdowns last season, but even when he’s been on the field this year, he’s hardly been involved in this offense.
One thing that’s inexplicable to me is the lack of use of Jimmy Graham. You signed him for a reason, right? Why is he not on the field? If he’s not healthy or not in shape I get it, but why did you sign him in the first place?
We’ve seen that he can still be a red zone threat in his limited playing time, but for some reason even though the Saints have one of the worst red zone offenses in the NFL, they don’t give him a shot at a jump ball and instead throw fades to 6’0 Chris Olave.
This whole room has been mismanaged and it’s a shame to see because both Johnson and Graham were hyped up so much this offseason.
Offensive Line: D-
Early on in the season, this might’ve been the worst offensive line I’ve ever watched. Now that they’re 10 games in and have improved slightly, they might be the worst offensive line I’ve watched in the last five years.
It’s really hard to find a team that has invested as much draft capital into their offensive line as the Saints have over the past few years, but yet, almost none of them have panned out.
Ryan Ramcyzk has lost a step and hasn’t been playing as good, Cesar Ruiz looked primed to make another jump this season but hasn’t, Eric McCoy has also regressed, James Hurst looks like James Hurst, Trevor Penning got benched and somehow Andrus Peat has been the Saints best lineman the past few weeks.
This group is incapable of getting any push on runs and can’t hold up in pass protection for more than a couple of seconds. It’s very hard to miss on this many offensive linemen, but the Saints have found a way to mess up on almost every offensive lineman they’ve drafted over the past 5-6 years.
Taysom Hill: A+
I’m giving Taysom Hill an A+ because I just love the guy. He seems to be the only one really thriving in this offense and it’s so much fun to watch.
Pete Carmichael has seemingly figured out that they need to use Taysom more often and you can see the result it’s having on the offense. In the four games that he’s ran the ball 5+ times, the Saints are 3-1.
He probably deserves more of a B+ to A-, but I don’t care I’m giving my man his flowers.
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Originally posted on Canal Street Chronicles – All Posts