Out of the frying pan and into the proverbial fire. That’s the perfect analogy that can be used to describe the sense of trepidation that the New Orleans Saints defensive secondary must feeling right now, as they head into tomorrow evening’s critically-important contest in the Pacific Northwest against the Seattle Seahawks.
After surrendering a near-fatal TD pass that should have gotten them beat in the home opener against the Houston Texans and then getting victimized once again in last week’s loss at Los Angeles against the wide receiver corps of the Rams; the Saints secondary now will be faced yet another difficult task: slowing down the talented young WR’s of the Seahawks, namely young Seattle veteran #1 WR Tyler Lockett and rookie sensation D.K. Metcalf.
While an overwhelming majority of Who Dat fans will be narrowly-focused on the team’s offensive performance while starting QB Drew Brees is sidelined for the next 6 games as he recovers from surgery to the torn thumb ligament in his right throwing hand; it’s also the play of the Saints secondary that will have a huge hand in whether the Black and Gold can earn a much-needed victory.
Lockett has firmly established himself as the primary target for Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in their run-first offensive scheme, but it’s been the addition of the rookie Metcalf in this past April’s 2019 NFL Draft a few months ago, that suddenly now has (2-0) Seattle very confident about their overall chances of success in their passing game as they look to beat the Saints tomorrow and remain undefeated.
Last Sunday in their 28-26 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Metcalf grabbed 3 passes for 61 yards and also scored a touchdown for the first time in his young professional career. Metcalf’s touchdown came late in the 4th quarter and ended up giving Seattle a 28-19 lead, which they hung onto to earn their 2nd straight victory and a share of 1st place in the NFC West Division.
Now the talented 21-year-old rookie WR and former star at the University of Mississippi (or “Ole Miss” as it’s more commonly referred to by college football fans) will be looking to continue his rise to stardom against the struggling Saints secondary.
In tomorrow’s contest, it’s expected that #1 Saints CB Marshon Lattimore will likely cover Lockett for the majority of the game; which means that Wilson will very likely seek to target Metcalf early and often against Saints CB’s Eli Apple and P.J. Williams in coverage.
In the first two games of the season, both the Texans and Rams targeted Apple and Williams as often as they possibly could through the air; and it’s expected that Wilson and the Seahawks will probably do the very same in front of a sell-out crowd at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field.
Undoubtedly, the Seahawks and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will look to establish their top-rated running game with the dangerous rushing duo of RB’s Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny.
But their passing game will most definitely be a factor as Wilson and company will seek to attack the besieged Saints DB’s, particularly on throws downfield to Metcalf. As a result, a game that most analysts and observers feel could be a low-scoring “slug fest”, could actually end up being a shootout.
Metcalf could be in store for some additional targets from Wilson however, given the knowledge League-wide at the moment over Apple’s notable inability in the past two games, to successfully defend the opponent’s #2 WR.
But Apple isn’t the only Saints defensive back that will come “under fire” tomorrow; as David Moore — who is Seattle’s #3 wide receiver in the slot — could be a huge difference maker in coverage against embattled Saints slot CB PJ Williams.
Bottom line: if (1-1) New Orleans has any hope of leaving Seattle and the scenic Pacific Northwest with a critically-important victory, then the Saints defensive backs need to “turn the corner” (no pun intended) and play much better than they have in the first two games.
The only question that most Saints fans seemingly have at the moment is whether or not they are capable of accomplishing that task, after what we’ve seen from them in the past two weeks….