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Week 5 - Studs, Duds, and Hat Tips

McKissic for the win

Canadian Hog

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Week 5 is in the books and after a 33-22 defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, the WFT currently sits with a disappointing 2-3 mark on the season. Sunday was particularly frustrating as this appeared to be a game that the Burgundy and Gold could have seized control of early on. Instead, missed opportunities, as well as some costly mistakes and breakdowns once again hurt this football team. Consistent progress unfortunately does not seem to be a thing that this team can establish right now. It gets no easier from this point forward and unless the WFT has some sort of miraculous turnaround, we could be potentially staring at another top 10 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. It is sad when the draft even enters your mind five weeks into the year, but this is the reality we are currently watching unfold on Sundays. Let's take a look at our Week 5 Studs, Duds, and Hat Tips.

Studs:

1. Blake Gillikin - We are going to do things a bit differently this week as a result of not really being able to identify a WFT player who had a stud performance and changed the game dramatically in our favour. Our first stud performance will instead go to the New Orleans' punter, Blake Gillikin, who had an outstanding game and pinned the WFT deep in their territory on three separate occasions. They say that it takes impact plays in all three phases of the game to win football games consistently, and Gillikin was as important as any other Saints player in mustering a victory yesterday. His brilliant punt with under two minutes before halftime helped set up the opportunity to throw a Hail Mary pass to the endzone which resulted in a touchdown. Additionally, in the second half, another outstanding punt which later resulted in a Heinicke interception set up a short field for New Orleans to again work with on route to a second TD score. Without Gillikin's play, you could argue that 14 points could easily have been erased from the board for the Saints.

2. Marshon Lattimore - another Saints player who earned Stud status yesterday was Marshon Lattimore. This season, whenever tough times have surrounded the WFT in game, we more often than not have relied on our superstar wide receiver, Terry McLaurin, to bail us out and jumpstart the team. Unfortunately, Lattimore wasn't having any of that yesterday. Despite being targeted 11 times, Terry was only able to haul in 4 passes for 46 yards. We tried desperately to feed him the ball in critical spots, and Lattimore passed the test yesterday. Credit given where credit is due.

Duds:

1. Taylor Heinicke - Much like the game in Buffalo, Taylor pressed a bit too much yesterday in the wrong spots and it hurt the team. The interception pushing the ball downfield on third down near our goal was a crucial mistake. It set up a short field for the Saints who subsequently took a 27-16 lead and really put us in a difficult situation. Additionally, the red zone INT at the New Orleans 2 yard line on a pass attempt to Curtis Samuel stung badly. Heinicke just couldn't seem to muster the big throw to the end zone on a couple other occasions when we were knocking on the door, and settling for field goals in those situations hurt. Ultimately, the missed throw to a wide open DeAndre Carter while rolling right on a third down on our opening possession basically gave an indication as to the type of day it was going to be for #4 - not clutch or good enough to win. Growing pains are going to happen in the NFL and Sunday was a case of that for Taylor.

2. The Secondary - Have your heard this one before? Wash, rinse, and repeat. The secondary continues to struggle mightily for our team and gives up back breaking play after back breaking play every week. Landon Collins seemed to be at fault on an early 72 yard touchdown bomb to Deonte Harris on a 3rd and 7 for the Saints. Whether it was a miscommunication or what have you, Collins was once again a weak link. He and his defensive secondary teammates were again sleeping at the wheel on a 49 yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Marcus Callaway right before halftime which put the Saints up by 7. The WFT felt like they should have been winning this game going into the half, and to find themselves sitting in the locker room down 20-13 was a major kick to the gut. It felt like curtains at that point for the WFT and the secondary was hugely responsible for that. Mental lapses seem to be the routine this year, and it is costing this team big time. Something has got to give.

3. Jack Del Rio - I will let others debate whether the scheme is the problem or not. My criticism of Del Rio this week comes from a preparation standpoint. We just didn't look prepared or ready to play in the biggest and most important of moments in yesterday's contest defensively. The turnovers were an encouraging sign I suppose. That all being said, when you have players saying post game that they thought the Saints were going to dink and dunk it underneath to get into field goal range before halftime and they were surprised that Winston threw long, I have to pin some of that on the coaches. Secondly, when we closed the gap to 27-22 with 7:51 to go, you hoped that the defense would have been able to put the ball one more time in Heinicke's hands - afterall, he has had some clutch comebacks earlier this year and you just never know. Unfortunately, on the ensuing drive, we played dead and allowed the Saints to trot down the field for 75 yards and a touchdown, essentially putting the game out of reach. Again, big moment and the defense was lifeless. Del Rio's scheme might be an issue, but I wonder if his voice is falling on deaf ears with these players? Motivating them seems to be as big a problem as any other.

Hat Tips:

The following players showed some encouraging signs yesterday and hopefully can build off of some of their positive play in the weeks to come:

1. Daron Payne - getting to the quarterback and creating turnovers has been an issue for this defense this year. Payne did his best to rectify some of these issues Sunday with a sack and fumble recovery. He has been a player that has been coming on strong in the past couple weeks.

2. Matt Ioannidis - the interior lineman was disrupting things inside yesterday on several occasions and getting some good push. Ioannidis is one of those grit and effort guys that you just seem comfortable with putting on the field on Sundays, as you know what you are going to get with him more often than not.

3. Dustin Hopkins - credit to Hopkins for rebounding after a brutal game in Atlanta. He made all three of his field goal attempts and hit one cleanly from 45 yards out, a traditional trouble spot kick for him. I really would have liked to have seen Rivera give him an opportunity at a 53 yarder when he elected to go for it on 4th and 10 in a tie game with about 4 minutes left in the first half. It potentially could have been a big time confidence booster for him moving forward had he had a chance at the kick and made it.

4. Offensive Line - these guys don't seem to have a lot of hype surrounding them, but for a unit that came in with 60% of its starters being new in Week 1, we are seemingly giving our QB time to throw the football. A credit to Sam Cosmi who continues to grow after some rocky times in the first couple weeks. He showed a lot of guts attempting to get back on the field yesterday after his early injury. Wes Schweitzer did a nice job filling in for Scherff as well and I noticed him throw some really good blocks in certain spots yesterday. I really would have liked if we gave these guys more of a chance to win the line of scrimmage against a good Saints run defense yesterday. Our coaches seemed to shy away from it though for whatever reason.

5. DeAndre Carter - Carter has been a bright spot for this team in 2021. Obviously, he has done a nice job on returns, but we are starting to see him contribute in the passing game as well. He hauled in a big time 4th and long reception yesterday which lead to an eventual scoring drive. On the day, he accumulated 62 receiving yards on 4 catches and helped pick up some of the slack for our depleted receiving group.

6. Adam Humphries - 3 catches for 73 yards was his stat line for the day. Humphries' three grabs all resulted in 20+ yard pass plays. He seemed adept at the catch and run type plays that give this team an opportunity to gain big chunks of yardage in a short span of time. His veteran presence might come in handy as we try to survive the rash of injuries at the receiver position in the coming weeks.

While yesterday's loss put a real damper on Canadian Thanksgiving, I am hoping that better days are ahead and that we can steal a game unexpectedly against the likes of the Chiefs or Packers in the coming weeks. Here's hoping...

Who did we miss? What are your thoughts?
 

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SirClintonPortis

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Is Wade Phillips available? Whack De Failo built his reputation with talented players.

 

Kel Varnsen

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High Point

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a punter have a game as great as that. He was responsible for 14 points. The punt just before half ultimately gave the Saints the shot at the Hail Mary. Then the INT by Heinicke was after another brilliant punt.

On the Football Team side, Hopkins was good. Too bad it didn’t matter. They still need him to make kicks when it matters.
 

SirClintonPortis

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I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a punter have a game as great as that. He was responsible for 14 points. The punt just before half ultimately gave the Saints the shot at the Hail Mary. Then the INT by Heinicke was after another brilliant punt.

On the Football Team side, Hopkins was good. Too bad it didn’t matter. They still need him to make kicks when it matters.
The spirit of Ray Guy descended into him and smote the Washington Football Team with brimstone and fire. Just like how the real made sure we couldn't get any momentum bad in that lost Super Bowl. There was a bad snap where Guy caught and bailed the Raiders out.
 

Neophyte

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If any one of those 3 punts goes into the Endzone for a touchback, I think it's a different game. Gillikin was on fire yesterday.

Oddly, I thought Carter did a great job on all 3 of those punts as well. I get so frustrated when I see guys fielding punts inside the 10 week-in and week-out, but Carter had great field awareness to let them go. The odds of all 3 taking a favorable bounce for the Saints rather than us are astronomical. Punt returners, by nature, have a bit of a hero complex but Carter played the right percentages each time even though it didn't work out for us once.

I think Scott Turner has got to be a dud. The O-line looked game to run block yesterday and with two new faces there by the early 2nd quarter, we should have pounded things more. Yeah, our backs only averaged 3 yards per carry but do that twice and it's 3rd and 4 where you have lots of options and the defense has to honor all of them. I need to look at the tape again but it felt like we left ourselves mostly 3rd and long which made defending easier and likely contributed to Heinickie's tough day in the office.
 
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DieselPwr44

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I don't know how you have a Dud list that doesn't include Scott Turner. What he did as an OC/play caller was just atrocious.

First of all, he treats Heinicke like he's a ten year vet instead of a guy on his fifth pro start but that's not his biggest failing yesterday...

In the third quarter, they actually ran the ball down the throat of the Saints "vaunted" run defense. Only one pass play in that drive! Chewed clock and scored. The defense comes out and gets a stop and the Saints punter pins them down on their own two.
After dominating the Saints on the ground the previous possession, what does Turner do? Empty set five wrs on his own two. Un- freaking believable!
So pass, pass, int. Heinicke should have never been put in that situation.

All that did was cement it for me: Scott Turner doesn't know his personnel, their strengths or weaknesses. He also lacks situational awareness in his playcalling.

All I could think of was: What would Prime Joe Gibbs do? If Joe would've just seen his offense march down the field on the ground, what would happen his next possession? The opponent would get another dose of the same medicine.

Just awful coaching by Son of Norv.
 

Canadian Hog

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Can't argue with any of what you said. At the same time, I am not sure that any sort of different approach on the part of Turner yesterday could have changed the outcome of that game. The defense is failing us enormously and putting extreme pressure on our offense to be perfect, when that side of the ball is far from a finished product in terms of their growth and maturation. The perceived talent on this team largely rests on the defensive side and Del Rio is failing miserably to this point in terms of maximizing their ability. Turner has had his share of fails too this year, but he is at least getting something out of his players. By no means am I saying I love Scott Turner. I am simply stating that if we are grading these coaches 5 weeks into the year, I am sitting Del Rio down for a chit chat in my office before Turner. We have won two games in spite of the defense, which has been a minor miracle.
 

DieselPwr44

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If I was Ron, I'd have got on the head set and told Scott to knock off the cute BS.

The disturbing thing is, backed up inside your own two, you want to get cute with an inexperienced Qb whose over competitive nature gets him into trouble at times. Instead of coming out and running the ball out of that hole until you get some breathing room, you put your Qb and offense in a bad situation...one that a veteran OC wouldn't have done.

Just a complete lack of situational awareness.

The defense and JDR are their biggest problem obviously.
 

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