11 takeaways from Saints’ underwhelming 2022 season

The New Orleans Saints finished 7-10 in their first season with Dennis Allen at the helm. Before finishing the season out 3-1 in their last four games, things looked far worse for the present and future of the team. At times they looked dominant, a lot more often they looked incompetent. The front office has to have seen something, though, as they’ve given Dennis Allen another chance in 2023.

Here are some key takeaways from both the good and bad of the 2022 season of the coaching staff, offense, defense and special teams.

Offensive playcalling needs to be more creative

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Whenever Pete Carmichael opened up the playbook, the offense looked fun. The problem is that it didn’t happen enough. Far too often, they would default to boring runs that would gain a yard and then find themselves too far behind the line to gain to really do anything.

When they worked Taysom Hill in like Sean Payton would have, they started to move the ball. Next season, creative play calling is a must on a more consistent basis.

The Saints are a good drafting team

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The bad draft moments stick out, such as trading two firsts for Marcus Davenport and so far Payton Turner hasn’t panned out, but this year made it clear that the Saints are very good at drafting.

Chris Olave and Alontae Taylor are the rookies that did very well this season. Olave had a case for offensive rookie of the year, Taylor looks like he should be a starter next season. Trevor Penning looked promising when not injured.

Something needs to change along the offensive line

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Everyone on the offensive line had near or fully new career worst seasons according to Pro Football Focus. Alvin Kamara averaged just two yards before contact this season, which is the worst of his career. They allowed 38 sacks, which is the worst since 2005, before Drew Brees was the team’s quarterback. They signed Doug Marrone last offseason, but clearly that hasn’t worked as well as many hoped so far.

Dennis Allen needs to work on his crucial moment game management

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The Saints had some very upsetting losses this season, starting to look like a certain other NFC South team. Allen’s late game management left a lot to be desired. Whether it be how they aggressive they get on offense or how they control the clock, they left far too many opportunities on the table this season. They’d likely be in the playoffs had they not had the most embarrassing regular season loss in recent memory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Saints should have given Jameis Winston another chance

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Jameis Winston never getting another look at quarterback is one of the more questionable things when looking back at the season. The second half of the season had five losses where the offense looked dead for a majority if not all of the game. Dalton was OK as a starter, but despite the team looking as though they needed a spark throughout the season they never went back to Winston. Winston was not guaranteed to perform any better, but now the Saints have no new looks at him as they approach the off-season and need to make a decision at quarterback.

Rashid Shaheed needs to be treated as a big part of the wide receivers room

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Shaheed came onto the scene with a burst, as his first two touches were touchdowns. One of them rushing and one of them receiving. His blazing speed makes him a unique weapon in the offense. While he was an undrafted free agent, the Saints should treat him as a valuable part of the receiving corps moving forward.

His role only grew bigger as the season went on, making a name for himself with fans. He looks more and more like a legit NFL receiver with every snap he plays. His route running ability is very underrated.

The Tyrann Mathieu signing was a success

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While he had a rough start to his time back home in New Orleans, Mathieu turned it around and ended up with a very solid season. He led the team in takeaways, with three interceptions and a forced fumble. He was also second on the team in tackles.

With the constant turnaround at the free safety position due to injuries, having Mathieu lock down the other safety spot was well-needed.

The Saints have an embarrassment of riches at linebacker

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Demario Davis and Pete Werner were a very expected great duo, but with an injury to Werner the world got to see a breakout season from Kaden Elliss.

Davis was named to the All-Pro second team, he started slow and finished very strong. Elliss finished second on the team in sacks and third in quarterback hits. Werner missed five games, but looked very good when he was on the field.

The Saints need to let Marcus Davenport walk in the offseason

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It’s likely that Davenport’s Saints career ended with him getting ejected against the Panthers for fighting with D’Onta Foreman. He had a very disappointing season, making it clear that the Saints need to cut their losses and let him walk instead of putting even more resources into the experiment.

He had just half a sack this season and two tackles for a loss, not nearly enough production for a starting edge rusher.

The Saints need to bring in competition for Wil Lutz

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Wil Lutz had a very upsetting season. It was indeed worse without him in 2021, but this year cannot be looked at as acceptable. He was a career worst 74.1% on his kicks this season. The Saints don’t need to cut him or anything, but they should absolutely bring in some competition and consider if they need to move on in the near future. Kicking is too important to not be able to trust your kicker.

The Saints should not try to blow things up yet

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As annoying as this season was the Saints can win more games than this season, and could have easily won the division regardless of the mess this year was.

The NFC South is wide-open yet again, and the Saints should approach the off-season expecting to compete yet again in 2023. Due to the age of a lot of their best players and contract situation for the next two years, the Saints should try to build onto their competitive roster for next season.

They finished the season off on a good note, outside of Week 18, showing that they can belong and the defense is still elite. The offense needs some work, but nothing that can’t be done this off-season.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire