ROAD BLOCK? Short-Handed Saints Can Prove Doubters Wrong at Chicago

Photo Credit: New Orleans Saints on (Original by Nuccio DiNuzzo)

3 out of their 4 starting wide receivers ruled out because of injuries or illness. A shaky defensive secondary that has consistently had troubles in pass coverage. Less than ideal weather conditions at kickoff and throughout the game.

Those are just a few of the potential obstacles that the New Orleans Saints will be facing on the road tomorrow afternoon, when they travel to the “Windy City” of Chicago to play their opponent — the Chicago Bears — at one of the sport of Pro Football’s hallowed venues in Soldier Field.

But even though the odds seemingly are against them, finding a way to win somehow is the Black and Gold’s top priority, if they want to remain in contention for the NFL Playoffs and prove many of their doubters wrong in the process.

Tomorrow’s less-than ideal weather conditions (40 degrees with winds of 20 miles per hour or more) aside, it clearly means that in order for New Orleans to come away with a much-needed victory and stay one-half game behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the current NFC South Division standings, it will require their biggest stars to perform at an optimum level.

That definitely will be the case on the offensive side of the ball, against the stout and at-tines tenacious Bears defensive unit, which is one of the very best defenses in the entire League.

In order for that to happen, it means that the team’s biggest and brighter stars that will actually play tomorrow afternoon — namely QB Drew Brees, RB Alvin Kamara, and TE Jared Cook — will have to bring their proverbial “A-Game” to the stadium and play as mistake-free as they possibly can.

Photo Credit: New Orleans Saints on (Original Credit via Mark Zaleski)

The expectation is that with so many of the team’s receiving options limited in the passing game, the Saints offense and head coach Sean Payton will rely heavily upon the running game and the 1-2 punch of Kamara and teammate Latavius Murray.

One thing that might give New Orleans a slight advantage in that regard is the possible absence of Bears All-Pro edge pass rusher Khalil Mack, whose status for tomorrow’s game against the Saints remains up in the air.

Mack was listed as questionable on Chicago’s final injury report of the week yesterday, and he previously had missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with a knee injury before he was finally able to get in a limited workout on Friday.

That said, the main concern and apprehension among most Who Dat fans for tomorrow’s key intra-conference match-up lies with the shaky Saints defense — which has notably struggled at covering opposing wide receivers and tight ends over the course of the last few games — in pass coverage.

Green Bay Packers on Twitter (Original by Brett Duke)

The Black and Gold defensive secondary (particularly at the safety position) has been burned several times in their last couple of games, and they’ve embarrassingly given up a total of 6 plays already so far this season, which have gone for over 40 yards or more.

Additionally, the Saints defensive unit as a whole is ranked dead-last number 32 out of the NFL’s 32 teams — at giving up points in the red-zone (inside of their own 20-yard line).

Fixing those issues on defense obviously need to get done and rather soon, if the suddenly short-handed Saints have any real intentions of achieving their goal of winning a Super Bowl in a few months from now.

“We have to eliminate the explosives (big plays),” Payton told reporters earlier in the week.

“Teams are good enough throwing the football where they’re going make plays underneath. But in a handful of these games this year, these chunk plays are the ones that are going to hurt you in another game, and be the difference rather than you being able to overcome it.”

Photo Credit: New Orleans Saints on (Original Credit via Brian Blanco)

For New Orleans tomorrow, it’s just one of the handful of obstacles that they will have to overcome and  “dig down deep” — in order to avoid allowing it to happen against them yet again — to leave the legendary Soldier Field and the “Windy City” of Chicago with a critical win.

And even though the odds at the moment seem to be overwhelmingly against them, they’ll need to find a way to manuever past the road blocks that have been put in their path, to prove their doubters wrong….

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked previously as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending their games as a young boy during the early 1970’s, uptown at the old Tulane Stadium. He is also the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *