It is, once again, that time of the week where we exchange information with the SB Nation site that covers the Minnesota Vikings’ opponents and see if we can’t glean some information about this week’s matchup.
This week, we’re sitting down with Canal Street Chronicles, SB Nation’s home for the New Orleans Saints. I exchanged questions with Luke Hubbard from CSC, and you can see the answers that I provided to his questions right here. Below are the questions that I sent his way, along with his responses.
1) This offseason, the Saints brought in Derek Carr to man the quarterback position, but he hasn’t exactly been lighting it up with just 10 touchdown passes through nine games. How has the Derek Carr experiment gone so far in your opinion?
It’s been a bit underwhelming, but I don’t think he’s played as bad as the stats show. The first two weeks, he was still figuring things out with the offense, but he made two big throws down the stretch to help seal those wins. Then, in week three, he got the Saints out to a 17-0 lead before suffering an AC Joint sprain and missing the rest of the game, which we ended up losing. He then came back a week later and had one of the worst performances of his career (I don’t think he was healthy enough to play, he just didn’t want to let his team down). After that, he had a good game against the Patriots before back-to-back losses to the Texans and Jags.
Since those two losses, Carr has thrown for 521 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. I think he’s finally getting on the same page with Pete Carmichael and the offensive line has been improving each and every week. While the experiment hasn’t gone as planned up until this point, I think he’s only going to get better in this offense each week, and I still believe he’s by far the best QB in the NFC South, so he should be able to lead the Saints to a division title.
2) So far this season, the Saints have been stingy on defense, allowing just 17 points/game. If the Vikings want to be successful on offense on Sunday, what part of the New Orleans defense should they look to attack?
Run the ball over and over and over again. The Saints have proven they can’t stop the run very well this season, and it’s kind of surprising to me that other teams haven’t ran the ball more often against the Saints. I know this is a pass first league, but teams that have found success on the ground against the Saints have ended up abandoning the run and are forced to throw against our elite secondary. The Saints rank 24th in the NFL, allowing 4.4 yards per carry this season. This is a defense that can be exposed if their opponents just stick to the run game, and we’ve seen that during some of the Saints’ losses this season.
3) Veteran coach Dennis Allen is in his second year with the Saints after going 7-10 last year. How do you think he’s fared in taking over for Sean Payton and do you think he’s a long-term coach for New Orleans?
I’m definitely in the minority here, but I really do think he can be a long-term option at head coach for the Saints. Many people want him fired, and I get it because the Saints have underperformed since Payton’s departure, but just look at the situation he’s been in. First, he gets left with a mess at QB and had to start Andy Dalton for most of the season last year. Second, he has an offensive coordinator that has refused to use his playmakers in the right way (he’s been getting better the past few weeks). And third, he’s replacing a Hall of Fame coach who was led by a Hall of Fame QB for nearly his entire stint in New Orleans (Don’t forget, Sean Payton went 7-9 three straight years with Drew Brees running the show).
I think Dennis Allen is one of, if not the best defensive minded coach in all of football. He’s fielded a top-10 defense almost every single season since 2017 and he’s also been one of the best coaches at finding talent, especially in the secondary, late in drafts. I think if the Saints got rid of him, they and the fans would quickly realize how much they’re going to miss him. If things go south this year, I think they should fire Pete Carmichael and give Allen another year. The defense hasn’t been the issue since he took over, the offense has been.
One criticism I have of Allen is his decision making. He’s been in New Orleans with a lot of these coaches for a long time, so naturally he’s going to side with them. I think they need to either fire Carmichael or make a change at play caller if this offense starts sputtering again. He’s been getting lucky, because every time the offense has a bad couple of weeks, Carmichael comes out and calls a good game to get some heat off of him for another couple weeks, but he needs to be on a very short leash from here on out.
4) Give us one “under the radar” player on both sides of the ball for the Saints that you feel will play a big role in the team’s success on Sunday.
On offense, I’m going to go with Juwan Johnson. Last year, Johnson led the team in touchdowns, but he’s been injured to start this season. He was hyped up all offseason as someone who’s going to break out in this offense, but we haven’t seen it yet because of his lack of play time. He’s been back for a couple weeks now, and last week, he caught all five of his targets, one of which was for a touchdown. I think the more he plays with Carr, the more targets he’ll get. He’s a former receiver turned tight end, so he’s got the ball skills of a receiver.
On defense, I’ll go with Paulson Adebo. I don’t know if he’s really “under the radar” to people outside of New Orleans, but he’s someone I feel like people sleep on because of Marshon Lattimore. Adebo just had a huge game last week with two interceptions and a forced fumble/recovery, so you’ve probably heard of his name, but he’s quietly been the Saints best cornerback this season. He comes up with huge plays week in and week out. Lattimore will probably matchup with Addison for most of the game, so Adebo is going to be on the Vikings WR2, and I think he could have another big game this week.
5) Both the Vikings and the Saints are coming into this one playing solid defense, and the DraftKings Sportsbook has set the over/under for this one at 41 points. Do you see the offenses breaking through in this one or do you think it will be more of a defensive struggle?
I would take the over in this game. The Saints offense has started to find their legs, and the Vikings offense looked just as good with Josh Dobbs under center as they did with Cousins. The Saints defense has been allowing more points than usual over the last few weeks as well, so I think there’s a good chance both teams score over 20 and cash the over in this game.
Thanks to Luke for taking the time to sit down and answer our questions for this week!