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Week 2 Game Recap: New Orleans Saints 9, Los Angeles Rams 27

What you need to know

New Orleans Saints

All eyes were on the referees this week with the way that the season ended last year for the Saints against the Rams. While there was a major blown call involving a Cameron Jordan fumble recovery that should have been returned for a touchdown, the biggest story was the injury to Drew Brees and how ineffective the offense was in his absence. The Rams bottled up Alvin Kamara after Brees left on the second drive of the game and forced Teddy Bridgewater to try and win the game through the air. Bridgewater did not get much help and was under constant pressure from the Rams defensive front. Between Jared Cook dropping passes and the line not being able to block Aaron Donald, it was a very bad day for the Saints offense. The defense kept them in the game until late in the 3rd quarter, but the constant aerial attack from the Rams proved to be too much. It appears that the Saints will continue with Bridgewater for the time being, but we may see Taysom Hill under center if the offense continues to struggle. The Saints travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks as they try to rebound in week 3.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams were aided by a Drew Brees injury to log a home win over the conference foe in Week 2. Jared Goff improved on his anemic Week 1 start to the season with sharper accuracy and Todd Gurley showed better than his question-inducing usage last week. Tyler Higbee sustained an injury and Gerald Everett took a step forward as an ancillary target. Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks looked fantastic as their key passing game weapons. The Rams did not need much on offense with the Saints looking toothless with Teddy Bridgewater in extended relief of the in-game injured Drew Brees.

New Orleans Saints

QB Teddy Bridgewater, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 30 - 165 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0
Trying to fill in for Brees is a tough thing to do, and even more difficult when the rest of the offense is flat. Bridgewater came in on the 3rd drive of the game and saw the offense implode for the rest of the game. The running game came to a complete halt and Bridgewater saw his tight end drop key passes a commit penalties that cost the team points. He was also under constant pressure from the Rams defensive front and did not have time to push the ball down the field. His arm looked great as he zipped passes all over the field, but the Saints could not sustain drives or come away with touchdowns. Bridgewater got in a rhythm with Thomas late, but the Rams scored twice and the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarters to put this one away. Bridgewater did not turn the ball over but completed just 56% of his passes and was sacked twice for a loss of 16 yards. Bridgewater is still projected to be the starter next week but will need a much better showing to fend of Taysom Hill from taking that job.

QB Drew Brees, 9 offensive snaps, Pass: 3 - 5 - 38 - 0 TD / 1 INT
Continuing with the theme of not being the game that everyone was expecting, Brees had a very rough outing. On the first drive of the game he gave up a fluke interception where it looked like Jared Cook had come down with the catch before the ball was jarred loose by a big Eric Weddle hit and landed on top of a few bodies on the ground before being picked up by John Johnson. Brees was then hit in the hand by Aaron Donald on the next series and his day was done. He remained dressed on the sideline with a wrap on his hand for the rest of the game, but it was reported that he could not grip a football and never got the chance to come back in. Brees even had his helmet on when the teams came back out after half time, but he did not see the field. There is no current time table for his return.

QB Taysom Hill, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets)
In an interesting move, the Saints used Hill as a tight end only this week despite Brees going down and the struggles of the offense and Bridgewater. He never lined up in the back field as a wild cat quarterback and did not receive a single carry for the struggling Saints run game. Hill caught 2 of his 3 targets and looks to be the best tight end on the field for the Saints at the moment. He had a 12-yard first down catch called back due to penalty but remained quiet outside of that. Expect Hill to line up under center at some point, especially if the offense continues to struggle the way it did this week.

RB Alvin Kamara, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 45 - 0, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (3 targets)
It is not often that we see Kamara held to under 50 yards rushing or a single reception for 15 yards, but that is exactly what happened this week. When Brees went down, the offense should have gone through Kamara, but the line could not block anyone this week and the Saints were playing from behind. Kamara was met by a defender in the back field constantly and the one big pass play he had was brought back because of a holding penalty. His longest run of the game was a 12-yard burst off the right side and accounted for almost º of his total yards for the game. The Saints offense is going to have to play much better next week against Seattle if they want to get a win and the offense is going to have to go through Kamara if Brees is out for any period of time.

RB Latavius Murray, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 7 - 0, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (1 targets)
The Saints rushing attack totaled 20 carries for a total of 57 yards, and Murray did not play a major role in any of that. His 5 carries for 7 yards averages out to just 1.7 yards per carry and his lone reception more than doubled his yards on the ground. Murray also did not look good in pass protection as Bridgewater was hurried on almost every drop back Murray was in the game. The Saints abandoned the running game this week and that type of game script does not bring much value for Murray. The Saints are going to try and establish the run next week in Seattle to prevent a repeat of this week and Murray is going to have to play much better or he will see even more of his carries going to Kamara.

WR Michael Thomas, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 89 - 0 (13 targets)
It took a while to get going with Bridgewater, but Thomas ended the day with 10 receptions on 13 targets. Unfortunately, those receptions did not come with big chunks of yards like the usually do with Brees and Thomas was held to under 100 yards this week. His longest catch was a 19-yard catch across the middle, but the Rams did a great job tackling and limiting yards after the catch for Thomas. The volume was there this week, but the overall productivity was limited by an offense that just was not clicking. Thomas will take on a Seattle defense that let Andy Dalton throw for more than 400 yards in week 1, but he will need the offensive line to protect the quarterback long enough to get him the ball next week.

WR TreQuan Smith, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 49 - 0 (3 targets)
With Ginn going without a catch or target this week, Smith got a chance to show he belongs. He caught all 3 of his targets and was the second leading receiver behind Thomas. He had the longest play of the day for the Saints with a 28-yard reception and had just under 50 yards for the day. The bulk of the targets went to Thomas and Cook this week with Thomas in a 3-way tie for 3rd most on the team. Bridgewater could build off of the success with Smith this week heading into their matchup with Seattle making him a sneaky value next week, but the Saints offense is impossible to predict outside of Thomas and Kamara each week.

WR Ted Ginn, 39 offensive snaps
The entire offense was affected when Brees went down, especially Ginn. It was a very bleak day where he did not receive a single target after a big week 1. The target distribution outside of Thomas and Kamara has always been scarce, but if Brees misses an extended amount of time it will be a very rough season for Ginn.

TE Jared Cook, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (7 targets)
It has not been a great start to the season for Cook in New Orleans. He was the big offseason acquisition, but he looks more like a fish out of water in this offense. Bridgewater tried to use him as a safety blanket this week after Brees went down but Cook only managed to catch 2 of his 7 targets, even dropping an easy pass that hit him right in the chest. Cook was also responsible for the Brees interception on the first drive of the game. Cook caught the ball up the seam only to have it jarred loose by a big hit from Weddle. The ball popped in the air and landed on top of Cook on the ground. After rolling around for a minute it was picked up by Johnson and ruled an interception since the ball was never fully caught and did not touch the ground. The Saints desperately want to use Cook, but he just does not look ready to be a big part of this offense right now.

Los Angeles Rams

QB Jared Goff, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 28 - 283 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - -2 - 1
The 2-0 start for the Rams has been despite an up-and-down season start for Jared Goff and the passing game. Week 2 provided upward promise against New Orleans as Goff was more accurate than a week ago but sprinkled in a handful of quizzical decisions and inaccurate passes. Goff missed Cooper Kupp down the seam, nearly added a second interception into double coverage towards Tyler Higbee, and lost a fumble in the red zone, a play which was (incorrectly) fortunately blown dead by the officials as the Saints raced for the sure-fire defensive touchdown. Goff rebounded to pull away for the home win with a laser goal-line slant touchdown to Brandin Cooks and a sneak rushing touchdown, but the Rams are still finding their way on offense through two weeks of the season. The Browns and Buccaneers are up next, both challenges for the Rams.

RB Todd Gurley, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 63 - 1, Rec: 3 - 4 - 0 (4 targets)
Gurley was used more regularly in the red zone against the Saints, an uptick in his offensive involvement from the season opener. Gurley’s passing game blackout continued, however, with a mere four yards through the air for the second week in a row despite the screen game being a Rams staple in previous seasons. Gurley added a drop but contributed a handful of strong rushing plays including a third-and-short conversion, goal-line touchdown, and a chunk run of more than 15 yards. Gurley’s status as the lead back for the Rams has not been in question through two weeks, but his highlight plays have turned from regularity over the past two seasons to flashing moments.

RB Malcolm Brown, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 37 - 0, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets)
Brown took a step back as starter Todd Gurley moved forward in the Rams backfield rotation against the Saints. Brown did not see the field until the mid-second quarter and his game was highlighted by two strong runs later in the second half, totaling 20 yards. With Brown not seeing the red zone involvement like in Week 1, Brown needs a blowout game script to see a strong workload or stat line without a Todd Gurley injury.

WR Cooper Kupp, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 5 - 120 - 0 (9 targets)
Kupp nearly doubled any other Rams’ passing game target in the Week 2 win over the Saints. Kupp looked far more comfortable than his lack-of-yards-after-catch effort in Week 1, his first game back from injury. Kupp made a diving reception over the middle, plus two highlight runs and a myriad of missed tackles down to the goal line, essentially a game-clinching play for the Drew Brees-less Saints. Kupp has yet to find the end zone but his 12 receptions over two games and after-catch uptick in Week 2 are positive signs to start the season.

WR Brandin Cooks, 68 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 3 - 74 - 1 (4 targets)
Despite a mere four targets against the Saints, Cooks bounced back from a sluggish Week 1 outing. Cooks was on the receiving end of two of Jared Goff’s best throws in the game, a drop-in-the-bucket deep ball on third-and-down and a laser goal-line touchdown amidst several defenders with a slant route. Cooks dropped a deep crossing route target, his lone missed opportunity in the game. Cooks’ target volume has been a concern through two weeks (10 total) but he is on the right track after finding the connection with Goff in Week 2.

WR Robert Woods, 69 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 2 - 33 - 0 (2 targets)
Woods’ offensive involvement shriveled against the Saints after a hearty 13 targets in Week 1. Woods took a jet sweep for a solid gain on the ground, but his looks as a receiver were minimal. Woods converted a deeper crossing route and took advantage for strong blocking on a screen pass for nearly 20 yards. Woods drew a defensive pass interference penalty and had a red zone touchdown called back by penalty.

TE Gerald Everett, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (5 targets)
Tyler Higbee sustained a lung injury against the Saints, fueling an uptick for Gerald Everett. Everett was stuffed on back-to-back red zone receptions but churned through a tackle attempt for a chunk gain on his third reception. Everett is an ancillary weapon for the Rams but potential missed time from Higbee makes Everett a more consistent projection for a handful of targets per week.

TE Tyler Higbee, 24 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (3 targets)
Higbee corralled a deep crossing route against the Saints as his highlight contribution but sustained a lung injury and was hospitalized as a precaution. If Higbee misses time, Gerald Everett stands to benefit in the wide receiver-centric Rams passing game.