Some may be content with the way the Jets have prevailed against 0-16 preseason expectations, and rightfully so. But amidst the minor success in development, disappointment has still lurked.
The Jets have been the center of a handful of close games, most of which resulting in losses. They’ve also been forgetful on the road, sitting with a painstakingly bad 1-6 record. Yuck.
While most are ready to call 2017 a wrap with hopes that the Jets can rebound next year, it isn’t quite over yet. This week, the Jets hit the road again for a matchup against the New Orleans Saints, who are perceived to be Super Bowl contenders. With third year quarterback Bryce Petty at the helm, Muhammad Wilkerson facing more drama, and Todd Bowles on the hot seat, the Jets are in for a long week.
JetsNation knows all of this for what it is, but how do the Saints reflect on it? To discuss that and more, I recently sat down with FPC Saints managing editor Chris Conner to spark some further insight.
Q: For the Saints, what has been this year’s biggest obstacle?
Chris: It’s without a doubt been injuries. It feels as if every week someone new has left the game banged up. This is the same team that had their best defensive tackle Nick Fairley out before the season even started. They’ve gotten to the point that they can’t survive anymore serious injures as the playoffs approach.
Q: What’s the key, or keys, to success for this Saints team on the rise?
Chris: Most people would point to the defense or the running game in general. However, they don’t get there without the draft class. The Saints drafted five day one starters who all have made instant impact. Marshon Lattimore and Alvin Kamara are the shiniest of the group. Both have had pro bowl seasons and should take home a few awards at season’s end. But as well as they’ve played, it’s the depth of the class that has led NOLA to success this year. Guys like Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams and Alex Anzalone. New Orleans had needed an infuse of young defensive talent for sometime now. The past two years have done them justice, but this draft class is in a league of its own.
Q: Speaking of the draft class, what do you think is in store for the rising rookie Marshon Lattimore?
Chris: If he can stay healthy, he’s a top flight corner. He has everything you want in a cornerback. He’s fast, agile, physical and plays with an edge. What’s most impressive about Lattimore is his demeanor and confidence. From day one nothing seemed to phase him. He attacks every matchup the same whether it’s Julio Jones or Kelvin Benjamin. It’s not often corners show shutdown potential in their first year. Lattimore has all of the tools to be elite for years to come.
Q: The Saints seem to have the one thing that the Jets lack, and have lacked for a long time – a franchise quarterback. What advice would you give to the Jets as they continue their search for that player?
Chris: My advice would be to not be afraid to take a chance on a quarterback. Everybody thinks of Drew Brees and beautiful stat lines come to mind. But NOLA took a huge risk with him. No one knew exactly what to expect when Brees signed. Even if they did, they never expected him to turn into one of the greatest to ever throw a ball.
New Orleans failed for sometime to find a quarterback to last them ten plus years. The only other great quarterback to spend his prime with the franchise is Archie Manning. Everybody else the Saints had either failed, underachieved, or spread their wings elsewhere.
Sometimes you take a chance and you get Aaron Brooks, (which wasn’t horrible) the next time you get Drew Brees.
Q: Both teams will be fighting for something on Sunday. The Saints – a chance to lock up division, and the Jets – well, they hope to avoid embarassment. What do you expect from both sides on Sunday?
Chris: I’m expecting the Jets to come out early trying to put up a fight like they’ve done all season. Eventually however, I expect the better team to takeover. That means a blowout, as the Saints try to position themselves in a jumbled NFC.
It will be an interesting matchup come Sunday, with plenty of storylines and fight from both teams. For the Jets, it will be an opportunity for them to continue to develop and prove their worth. For the Saints, it will be somewhat of a scrimmage as they look to topple over the tough NFC.
A special thanks to Chris Conner for taking the time to talk about all things Saints, Jets and the upcoming matchup. Be sure to head over their way for some intriguing content, including the other half of our interview for Saints vs. Jets.