Strief: No NFC Championship Hangover For Saints

The Saints have seen their season end in heartbreak two years in a row, but Zach Strief doesn't think that will affect their performance in 2019

Taz and the Moose
August 05, 2019 - 10:07 am
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The New Orleans Saints have seen their season end in heartbreak in each of the last two seasons. Last season, of course, a missed call in the NFC Championship likely cost them a Super Bowl appearance.

Might there be a hangover in New Orleans this season?

“I don’t think so,” former Saints offensive tackle and current play-by-play analyst Zach Strief said on Taz & The Moose. “I think that’s probably kind of an overblown perception for players. This is a generation that can’t watch a TV show for an hour straight without looking at their phones 45 times. So I find it very hard to believe that they’re going to be hung up on these games that happened seven months ago. I think the guys, if anything, respect and appreciate how hard it is to get to that point. I don’t anticipate it being an issue. I think it’s a little bit overblown, and it’s a little bit of a talking point because I don’t think half those guys could remember what happened in that game anyways.”

The Saints, who ranked third in the league in scoring offense (31.5 points per game) last season, return most of their top weapons, including Michael Thomas, who caught an NFL-high 125 balls for 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns. The Saints signed Thomas to a five-year, $100 million contract last week, ensuring that he will be in New Orleans for years to come.

“It’s certainly good,” Strief said. “I think getting Mike in camp was important. You look around the league and you see some of these guys that are still holding out, it affects seasons. I think the distraction part of it is probably a little bit overblown; what’s not overblown is I think you need those reps to get ready for the season, and the guys that miss camp, it usually takes a few weeks to kind of get in the swing of things and get their legs underneath them. I think as you look down the road and look into the future of life without Drew Brees, the Saints are really setting themselves up to put a lot of talent around the next quarterback. I think the first step in that was getting Mike Thomas done and locked up for the future.”

Outside of Thomas, the Saints were weak at wide receiver last season. In fact, their next-best option, Tre’Quan Smith, finished with 28 catches for 427 yards and five scores. In other words, Smith finished with 97 fewer catches for 978 fewer yards than Thomas.

“I think we ran into games last year where we were short weapons,” Strief said. “We literally played defenses that were bracketing Mike Thomas and double-teaming Alvin Kamara and just leaving everybody unprotected all over the field, and guys weren’t able to step up and make plays. I think that’s really the big question mark on this team.”

Click below to listen to Strief’s interview in its entirety.