After Further Review: Five takes from Saints win over Colts

Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) scored two touchdowns against the Colts (Oct. 29). (AP...
Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) scored two touchdowns against the Colts (Oct. 29). (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)(Darron Cummings | AP)
Published: Oct. 29, 2023 at 6:48 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Offensive breakthrough

For weeks it felt like everyone had been waiting and hoping for this Saints offense to have their signature moment after underachieving all season. On Sunday in Indianapolis, that moment finally arrived.

The Saints rolled up over 500 yards of total offense to steamroll the Colts, 38-27. That side of the ball is the biggest reason the Saints left Indy 4-4.

So what changed? Why did it look so different this week?

For starters, offensive coordinator  Pete Carmichael,  who’s become the popular scapegoat for the offensive shortcomings, called a masterful game from start to finish. The key was the simplicity. The Saints dialed back the sheer volume of plays and personnel groupings. Instead they focused on the lower number of plays they really liked. This allowed them to hone in on the execution and details of the shorter menu of plays.

Clearly, it worked.

Take Two: Derek Carr delivers

If Carmichael was public enemy #1 in many Saints fans’ eyes, Derek Carr was #2. There even was a pretty intense debate about whether or not Carr was THE problem with the offense after last week’s performance. The truth was he didn’t play well against Jacksonville, but no he was not the main problem with the offense through the seven prior weeks.

Regardless, his overly emotional demeanor last week seemed to rubbed people the wrong way, including himself. It led to a meeting of the minds at Saints camp this week to clear the air where they left it feeling good. None of that would’ve mattered though if  Carr didn’t show any improvement Sunday.

He responded with his best performance in black and gold.

Carr finished 19/27, 310 yards and two touchdowns. He was in complete control of the offense and looked more like the player the Saints envisioned them getting when they brought here on that $150 million contract. He needed this type of performance and bounced back the way good players are supposed when they have a bad stretch.

Take Three: Talvin Hamara strikes again

If you watched FOX 8 this week or listened to the Overtime podcast, you know we harped on Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara.

For a team that struggled in the red zone, we were blown away at how little Hill was used there last week. That had to change this week, and it did.

Hill rushed for two scores from the 20-yard line and in. He finished his day with nine rushes for 63 yards. He also caught a pass for a first down and threw a completion (which we will get to next). Hill is the most unique player in the game, and it was good to see the Saints utilize his strengths.

In Kamara’s case we felt like it was time for him take over a game. He had been anointed the guy who keeps it real with us in the media, but the truth is he hadn’t been the game-breaker since he’d been back.

That all changed Sunday. Kamara balled out with 110 total yards, two touchdowns and was one of the biggest difference makers in the contest.

His first touchdown came on a route many who watch film had been calling for since he returned to the lineup: the option route. We’ve seen it dozens of times before, Kamara gets out of the backfield, reads the linebacker in coverage and cuts inside or outside based on the leverage. At the 3:50 mark of the first quarter, he did it again. Carr connected with him, and he weaved into the end zone for the Saints’ first touchdown of the game.

Kamara said after the game that no linebacker can cover him on that route, and he hopes the coaches keep that on the call sheet from here on out.

I think most people would agree with that sentiment.

Take Four: The need for Shaheed

Wide receiver Rashid Shaheed averaged 51 yards a reception Sunday.

Let me repeat that: Rashid Shaheed AVERAGED 51 yards a reception Sunday.

Shaheed’s big play ability was on full display and seemed to pop up at the exact moment the team really needed it.

His first catch came on a dime from Carr where Shaheed got behind the defense for a 58-yard touchdown. His second catch turned out to be one of the most critical plays of the game. With Taysom at quarterback, the Saints went deep to Shaheed. The ball was initially ruled an interception but after further review, it was shown that Shaheed actually came down with the 44-yard reception. That connection set up a score six plays later on that drive. Had it stayed an INT, the Colts would have gotten the ball back down eight points with 13 minutes left.

Shaheed’s final reception provided the final dagger for the Saints victory. On 3rd & 13 late in the fourth, with the Saints up eight, it would have been easy to run the ball and let the defense take over. Instead, they called up another shot play, and once again it was Shaheed on the other end of the 51-yard bomb. They would add a field goal to push their lead to 11 points just a few plays later.

In his short time here, Shaheed has shown he has game-breaking ability. On Sunday, it was on full display.

Take Five: Other Observations

  • Chris Olave would have had a touchdown had he not lost that third quarter pass in the lights. He ran a beautiful route but just didn’t locate the ball on the Carr’s throw.
  • The Saints defense didn’t have their best day. They were gashed on the ground at times and seemed to have trouble containing Gardner Minshew. Sunday was the most points they’ve given up all season.
  • Technically, the Saints went 3/4 in the red zone. Taysom’s first touchdown technically didn’t count because the red zone starts inside the 20, not at the 20-yard line.
  • The Saints had some costly penalties Sunday. The down and distance was so long on that Shaheed completion described above because of back-to-back false starts when they were trying to put the game away.
  • Not only did the Saints win Sunday, but the Falcons also lost. Both teams are now tied atop the NFC South at 4-4. As bad as it’s felt at times, the Saints still have all of their goals in tact.

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