Saints
Photo Credit - Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The National Football League is in a constant state of flux. Every week a player can break out, under-perform, get injured, or have to step in for the first time that season. With this ever-changing landscape comes varied performances for each player throughout the season. New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is riding quite the roller coaster so far this season. 

The Saints re-signed Bridgewater in the offseason to back up Drew Brees again. Bridgewater became the starting quarterback after Drew Brees tore a ligament in his thumb during their Week 2 to the Los Angeles Rams. The next two games ended with wins for New Orleans, but Bridgewater was practically just a game manager. The Saints looked to Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas for the heavy lifting.

Week 5 threw in a new surprise when Bridgewater lit up the field with a career-high four touchdowns and beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had beaten the Rams the week before. To look deeper into Bridgewater’s performance, I’m going to use Pro Football Network’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM). 

OSM is a weekly grade that reflects an individual player’s offensive performance and how much of the offense they were responsible for. Based out of 100, it is impossible to attain a perfect score as a player would have to throw every pass, have every rushing attempt, and catch every ball. According to PFN’s Data Lab, a weekly score of 33 or more qualifies as an elite performance for that week. With all of this in mind, let’s digest this breakout performance from Bridgewater.

New Orleans Saints passing attack shows high OSM

The Saints had three players attain OSM grades over 30: Bridgewater, Thomas, and tight end Jared Cook. Bridgewater set a career-high OSM of 31.99 after consistently performing at the level of a game manager his first two weeks with grades of 14.63 and 6.46. Week 4 was an improvement; however, the team was not able to find the end zone. 

Michael Thomas carried the Saints against the Dallas Cowboys, leading the team with an OSM of 45, the eighth-best performance from a wide receiver during Week 4. During his first three starts, Bridgewater failed to eclipse 200 passing yards in a game. This past Sunday was a different story. He aired it out for 314 yards and flashed his potential as a starter in this league. 

Breakdown of Bridgewater and Thomas’ OSM

But the box score only tells you so much. As stated earlier, Bridgewater earned an OSM grade of 31.99, giving him the seventh-best QB performance in Week 5. But what does that mean? Well let’s start with his passes. Teddy completed 26 of his 34 passes and according to the NFL’s Next-Gen Stats, his average intended air yards per pass was 7.3, his average air completed yards per pass was 6.7, giving him a -0.6 air yards differential, tied for 6th overall in Week 5.

While you can get lost in the numbers, what this means is that Bridgewater was completing the ball, on average, 6.7 yards past the line of scrimmage. He was also completing them at a high rate, moving the ball and the Saints offense effectively and methodically down the field. He also had the fourth-highest completion percentage of Week 5, completing 76.5% of his passes. 

On top of Bridgewater having a breakout performance, All-Pro Michael Thomas also had his most dominant performance this season. Thomas reeled in 11 of his 13 targets for a completion percentage of 84.62%, the second-highest in the league of players with 10 or more targets. He turned those 11 completions into 182 yards, 58% of the teams passing attack, and two touchdowns.

It was not his best performance of the season when it comes to OSM, but he still posted an outrageous grade of 38.44, 5 points above the established elite performance distinction for that week. Thomas had not scored below a 36 so far this season and is proving to be responsible (again) for a large share of the Saints production in the passing game. The massive contract extension this past offseason has been well worth it so far this season. 

CB Marshon Lattimore is an OSM destroyer

After the offensive performance the Bucs displayed against the Rams in Week 4, there was no telling what this divisional matchup would offer. However, the New Orleans Saints have an OSM wrecking ball in Marshon Lattimore. 

Earlier this season, Lattimore had a few lapses in coverage and got beat a few times. However, these past two weeks he has been stifling his opponent’s top receivers. Last week against the Cowboys, Marshon Lattimore shut down Amari Cooper after the impressive start to Cooper’s season. Overall, Cooper saw his OSM grade drop from a 44 in Week 3 to a 27 in Week 4. 

Lattimore one-upped himself during Week 5. After Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans posted an OSM of 31 in Week 4, the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year blanked Evans, eliminating the possibility for an OSM grade. Lattimore was lined up across from Evans for 43 of his 53 snaps.

Lattimore is returning to his shutdown level of production at a time when the Saints need it most. With every week, despite the injuries, this New Orleans Saints roster is proving to be incredibly deep and talented enough to make a run for the Super Bowl.

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