Originally posted on The Saints Nation  |  Last updated 10/5/12

New Orleans Saints guard Jahri Evans watches play against the Indianapolis Colts at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi on August 26, 2006. The Colts won 27-14. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
I was perusing the PFF grades through the first four weeks of the season today and I came across some interesting numbers. Of all the guards in the NFL, Jahri Evans is currently ranked 5th, Ben Grubbs is currently 8th and Carl Nicks is currently ranked 16th. All things being equal, would I prefer to have kept Nicks? Of course. But his loss, at least so far, isn't as pronounced and some would have you believe. Not that PFF is the ultimate measure of performance or a decisive way to theorize how Nicks would have done in a different environment, but it confirms my suspicion that guard play isn't the problem with some the Saints' offensive struggles. Granted, Carl Nicks' run blocking rating come in much higher than Evans/Grubbs, but overall the two Saints' guards grade higher. There is no question Nicks would be a boost to the Saints' running game. The Saints currently average 4.3 yards per carry (vs. 4.9 last season with Nicks in the lineup). By comparison the Bucs averaged 4.2 yards per carry last year and average 3.6 this year through 4 games. Nicks is just one player so obviously he doesn't deserve blame for a huge dropoff in Tampa just as much as he doesn't deserve sole credit for a drop off for the Saints the year after he left. Still, it's hard to conclude based on all that small sample size evidence that not having Carl Nicks is having a dramatic effect on the Saints offense. It's not.

The dramatic drop in performance is the receiver position, pure, plain and simple. Lance Moore has done what Lance Moore does, maybe with a few more drops than usual... but otherwise, Marques Colston has played on one leg, Robert Meachem is gone, Devery Henderson looks old, slow and has been concussed, Adrian Arrington and Nick Toon have both been placed on IR (Arrington since waived), and Joe Morgan hasn't been able to come close to offering the Saints what Meachem did. So, to me, you can look no further than the atrocious play at receiver being primarily responsible for the offensive woes. Granted, Colston is on the mend so that should hopefully repair a lot of problems... but Lance Moore looks to be unavailable Sunday night so there will still be some shoes to fill. Can anyone say Greg Camarillo?

The Saints are currently averaging 7.1 yards per passing attempt. Last year they averaged 8.3 yards per. Brees' current completion % is 57.6% compared to 71.2% last year. That's due to receivers dropping passes and struggling to get open. Lastly, receivers accounted for 53.4% of the Saints' passing yards last year. This year, it's down to 36%. If you take away that one Joe Morgan 80 yarder, it would be down to under 32%. That means Brees is having to settle for dump off to Graham/Sproles because the receivers aren't getting separation.

So while defense is the principle reason the Saints are 0-4 right now, and any suggestion otherwise is comical, the notion that Carl Nicks' departure is affecting the Saints' offense is misguided. Would I love to have him? Sure. Would the Saints be better than 0-4 right now with him? Pretty doubtful. If you want an explanation as to why the Saints' offense has slowed down, it's not Sean Payton being gone as much as the injuries and lack of performance at the receiver position.

[follow]
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kevin Love responds to Draymond Green’s ‘annihilation’ trash talk

Spike Lee deletes Instagram post saying Kaepernick signed with Seattle

Errol Spence is the real deal, takes down Kell Brook

Indians reveal Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field

Report: Jerry West considered rejoining the Lakers before they hired Magic Johnson

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

The NHL is thinking about hosting an outdoor game in Nashville

Michael Vick in talks to retire with Falcons

Hall of Fame pitcher and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning passes away at 85

Roger Goodell to speak at Rams event, tickets start at $550

Ohio State hails itself as the ‘fastest team in college football’

Get a look at Shia LeBeouf as John McEnroe in Borg/McEnroe movie trailer

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker