Chris Olave is proving he’ll be a major part of the Saints offense moving forward.
The New Orleans Saints created a significant amount of empty yardage in Week 3. Though their 426 combined yards were the most of any game this season so far, they scored just 14 points. In Week 2 and 3 combined, the Saints have scored 24, fewer than the 27 they posted in Week 1 over the Atlanta Falcons.
Things are bleak for New Orleans right now. Injuries drive the narrative, but the bottom line is that the team is not performing up to par, banged up or not.
Jameis Winston is hurt… Bad (pain everywhere). He’s nobly playing through back fractures, but his mobility is clearly impacted and he isn’t making connections that you’d normally expect him to.
On one of the first plays of the game, the banged-up Alvin Kamara also coughed up a fumble that the Panthers recovered. At the end of the game, Michael Thomas went into the medical tent. Andrus Peat suffered a concussion, as did Tre’Quan Smith.
At one point, the Saints were down to just two receivers.
The Panthers got their first win of the season over the Saints, and New Orleans moved to 1-3, tying them for last in the NFC South, pending the result of the Falcons Week 3 game.
Among the grey, there is one silver lining: Chris Olave.
Chris Olave is proving to be worth the trade-up in 2022 NBA Draft
Chris Olave, in Week 2, was targeted for several deep balls from Jameis Winston. The attention Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry commanded created openings for the rookie receiver to take advantage of, and he got himself open several times.
Due to missed balls or overthrows, he and Winston failed to convert until the end of the game. Winston said he felt like he won his matchups:
In the fourth quarter, Olave finally caught a ball but fumbled it when he hit the ground.
In Week 3, it all started to come together. Olave was targeted 13 times, securing nine of those targets for 147 yards (16.3 yards per reception) with a long of 49. It was the most yards of any receiver or running back, and made up for 34.5% of the total yardage and 41.6% of the total receiving yardage.
The 49-yard reception allowed him to display his speed.
On this play, Olave 20.72 miles per hour after the catch, the third-quickest of any ball handler in Week 3 as of 6:43 PM ET on Sunday.
He worked in a variety of settings, showing his skills in kinds of routes:
The Saints moved up on draft night to get Olave, sending three picks to the Washington Commanders to get the Ohio State Buckeye. It’s been a so-so start in weeks 1 and 2, but Week 3 showed he has the capability to buoy the offense when others aren’t performing or are out with injury.
Olave’s preseason scouting report suggested he would become a “good starter in 1-to-2 years.”
He might be on his way there much quicker than that.