The last time a quarterback won a game for the New Orleans Saints who wasn’t Drew Brees, it was Aaron Brooks in 2005. Brees’ injury looked to be a dagger to the offense, especially when the team failed to score an offensive touchdown after his exit versus the Rams. However, Week 3 was a different story for backup QB Teddy Bridgewater and crew.
Backed by a strong defensive effort in the game, the Saints were able to put the game away early, scoring 20 points in the first half. The final score looked close, but most of the Seahawks yards came from the team’s three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Bridgewater wouldn’t surpass 200 passing yards, but the Saints looked to other offensive players to pick up the slack.
New Orleans established their offensive core for years to come in this past offseason. The team agreed to a 5-year, $100 million contract extension with All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas this past offseason. The franchise also committed to the idea of running back Alvin Kamara becoming the leader of the rushing attack after Mark Ingram departed in free agency. The pair dominated the offense in this game and provided the Saints with a crucial victory against a strong opponent during Brees’ absence.
Saints continue to feed Kamara
Besides the quarterback, no one on the Saints roster has more touches than Kamara. The third-year third-round pick from the University of Tennessee has given the Saints a dynamic weapon in the backfield.
Kamara saw three more carries in Week 3 than both the previous games and cashed in his 16 attempts for 69 yards against a solid Seahawks front seven. He also pulled in 9 receptions out of 10 targets for 92 yards and found the endzone twice, one rushing and one receiving touchdown.
In total Kamara saw 25 touches versus the Seahawks in Week 3 and gained just under 61% of the Saints 265 total yards. During the three games this season, New Orleans has won both games when Kamara has been present in both the rushing and passing facets of the game. During the Week 2 loss to the Rams, Kamara had just one reception for 15 yards.
The Saints must keep feeding Kamara, as he is currently averaging 6.6 yards per touch this season. It is also evident New Orleans has run more of the offense through Kamara since Brees’ injury. According to Pro Football Network’s Offensive Share Metric, Kamara received an OSM grade of 15.01 with the Saints facilitating the offense through Brees, who received an OSM grade of 33.25. In Week 2, Brees left the game and in came Bridgewater, who earned an OSM of 14.63, game manager level, while Kamara’s grade jumped five points to 20.6.
Kamara is a proven commodity for the Saints. He has shifted from split-time back to lead back smoothly, providing New Orleans with a solid rushing attack. However, he’s not the only dominant force this offense has to offer.
Michael Thomas is earning his money
The offseason was all about the contract drama. Were the Saints going to pay Michael Thomas? Was he demanding too much money? Was his production worth a record-breaking contract? So far, the returns are looking great. Thomas currently has 266 yards, averaging over 10 yards per reception. He found the endzone for the first time this season in Week 3 and his production should pick up as the offense builds together.
Going back to the OSM, Thomas posted a gaudy grade of over 40 against the Seahawks in Week 3. He has caught 71% of his targets and has been able to get more separation yards than the cushion provided by the opposing defense. Thomas leads the team in receptions this season and has already proven early into this year that the Saints passing game runs through him.
Kamara complements Thomas well and is currently second on the team in receptions. These two players are giving New Orleans a chance to stay on the road to the Lombardi trophy.
With Brees expected to miss six games at the minimum, the Saints need to secure three victories to have a good chance at reaching the postseason. The stretch of teams on their schedule is challenging. But with Sunday’s win over Seattle, it seems times might not be as dire in New Orleans as many thought.