Despite offense’s questions marks, Saints still have enough to keep winning after loss of Winston

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Mark Ingram
Saints running back Mark Ingram made his return to the team after a trade in a 36-27 win over Tampa Bay (Photo: Parker Waters).

The NFL is a pitch-and-catch game. If you cannot do damage in the passing game, you struggle to win games even if you are strong in other areas.

The Saints have question marks in that area. With the injury to quarterback Jameis Winston, the question becomes who will be the starting quarterback? It is Trevor Siemian or Taysom Hill?

I think it should be Hill for a couple of reasons. If the team still uses Hill as the “Swiss Army Knife” and he gets hurt, they lose a backup quarterback. Although rookie Ian Book is a prospect the Saints hope to develop, they do not want him to have to be the primary backup right now. Hill also provides more of a threat as a runner while Siemian is a pocket passer with limited mobility.

The receiver position is a question as well. Now that Michael Thomas is gone for the season (and maybe forever with the Saints) due to his injury, the group looks very limited moving forward.

Deonte Harris is the team’s best and most explosive weapon as a receiver and return man but his small stature makes it hard to play him as much as he is needed on offense. Marquez Callaway has very good hands, can catch in traffic and win in the air. After those two, there are big question marks.

Tre’quan Smith is back from injury but I think he is a reserve receiver on most NFL teams. There is some backup depth with recent pick-up Kenny Stills and the addition of Kevin White but neither was even part of the team’s plans heading into the preseason. White is a player with talent, size and deep speed but he has dropped more balls than he has caught so far.

I think Saints head coach Sean Payton is still looking to bring in another receiver but the trade deadline has passed so free agents are the only option now.

The tight end position has not been great either although the move of former wide receiver Jowan Johnson has shown promise. Garrett Griffin stepped up in the most recent win over Tampa Bay as well but the Saints really need Adam Trautman to show more as a former third round draft pick from Dayton with outstanding size at 6-5 and 255 pounds with good athleticisms.

Trautman has been inconsistent but I still think he will improve and show more this season. He has been a solid blocker but needs to be more productive catching the football as well as protecting it when he does. The second-year pro is fortunate that the team will keep giving him chances to improve.

So with the addition of Mark Ingram back with Alvin Kamara in the backfield, New Orleans has two good runners who are also weapons catching out of the backfield. The pair may also line up together with Ingram at running back and Kamara in the slot as a receiver at times. Getting Kamara in space more will make him more effective and perhaps help him stay healthy.

There are obvious strengths for the Saints. The offensive line is solid, and the defense is both deep and talented.

The biggest strength of the team is defense where have depth at defensive line, linebacker and the secondary.

The Saints are near the top of the league in scoring defense, particularly solid defending in the red zone.

With Marcus Davenport and David Onyamata back on the defensive line, this unit can be even better moving forward.

As a result, New Orleans can go as far as the backup quarterbacks allow. If they can control the game and don’t turn the ball over, the Saints will be able to win every week no matter the foe.

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