On Sunday, everyone in the New Orleans Saints’ secondary will be fixated on the fleet-footed Davante Adams. No. 17 will get his; the connection between him and Aaron Rodgers is too powerful. However, it will be the other wideouts who absolutely feast against the Saints.
Last year when the Packers and Saints met up in Week 3 in New Orleans, the Green Bay offense posted a crooked 37 number on the jumbotron. They didn’t have Adams available for the game, so Allen Lazard did his best Tae impression, going for six catches, 146 yards, and a touchdown.
Time and again, Rodgers targeted the former Iowa State product, and the connection looked effortless.
Fast forward to Week 1 this year, and Adams is in demon mode entering the season. Lazard is back, as is Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Then Green Bay went out and decided to add Amari Rodgers in the third round of the draft. To appease Rodgers they traded for Randall Cobb, dragging him out of the depths of hell (aka the Houston Texans organization).
The fact is that the Packers’ offense will be overwhelming for a lot of teams this year. It’s a unit that averaged the most points per game in the NFL a year ago (31.5) and then went out and added more weapons this offseason. Yes, there are questions about the offensive line, but as far as the core group Rodgers will be distributing the ball to this year, they improved. It’s horrible news for a Saints group that is depleted in the secondary.
Marshon Lattimore tempers Saints fans’ angst about the secondary as the clear-cut No. 1 cornerback. Lattimore has taken a step back from his dominant play from even two years ago, but he’s still a solid cornerback who never lacks confidence. Patrick Robinson was expected to be CB2 for the Saints this year. That was until he retired just a month ago, seemingly out of nowhere. It was a decision that left the Saints searching for answers.
“No,” Payton responded when asked if he saw the move coming. “Normally you don’t. He’s played in this league a long time. He and I spoke for about a half an hour, and he’s had a great career. He’s been smart with his money and it was something that deep down inside he felt.
“It’s not unusual, really, in training camp. It’s happened a number of times. It’s hard to ever see somebody and how they’re feeling. When you have a large group of players like this, someone who has played as long as he has, he felt comfortable with his decision, and certainly we respect that. He’ll get on to his next chapter and we go from there.”
Payton went on to note that the position was now an area they would need to address.
Roby was dealt a six-game suspension at the tail end of the 2020 season. It carries over into this year, so he won’t be able to suit up on Sunday against Green Bay. Given all the turnover for New Orleans in the offseason and the lack of bodies in the secondary, one could confidently say that the Packers are catching the Saints at the perfect time.
The addition of Roby was a great move for New Orleans — and a costly one, as they gave up a third-round pick. But Green Bay won’t have to worry about seeing him on the field in Week 1.
Lattimore will draw the assignment of Adams, and, as good as Lattimore can be, that advantage still goes to the slick-moving No. 17. The real problems for the Saints will arise with their other cornerbacks and how they deal with a group that has Lazard, MVS, Cobb, and Rodgers (and don’t forget about Robert Tonyan at tight end).
There is a ton of optimism around MVS this year. Cobb being back is a safety blanket for Rodgers at the absolute worst, and at best, he molds back into the legitimate slot wideout he was for Green Bay in his first song-and-dance with the team. This never-ending group will present a challenge for most defenses this year, especially the Saints, who lack depth and continuity in the secondary.
Some will emphasize the game being in Florida and the Packers’ apparent struggles there in recent years. Others will predict Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen crafting up a scheme to neutralize this passing attack for Green Bay. Reality will paint a different picture. It will be the Green Bay wideouts putting up more crooked numbers against the Saints in 2021.