For “Diehard” Saints Fans: 4 Storylines to Watch as Season Closes

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Oct 4, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar (25) is tackled by New Orleans Saints middle linebacker Stephone Anthony (50) during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won 26-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

What Do the Saints Have with Andrus Peat and Stephone Anthony?

Stephone Anthony has had a tough 2016. After leading the team in tackles as a rookie last year, he changed positions to become the strongside linebacker. However, with the Saints choosing to employ a lot of three safety sets, Anthony has been sidelined for most of this season.

Head coach Sean Payton opened up this week about Stephone Anthony to the media. He articulated that while Anthony has all the physical tools, his instincts and reads have been the biggest problem. The example Payton gave was that Anthony would be dropping back into coverage on runs, or on passes he would be up near the line of scrimmage as if to defend a run.

For his part, Anthony has been extremely professional in dealing with what must be an extremely frustrating situation. (Perhaps Brandin Cooks should take note — but more on that later.)

He said that Coach Payton was, “right on” on his criticism, and said that he was just working to learn and improve every day. With this season a wash, the Saints need to play Anthony, if for nothing else but deciding what they have in him moving forward.

Oct 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Andrus Peat (75) blocks Atlanta Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley (44) during the first half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Andrus Peat is another high draft pick that has had an up and down beginning to his career. With the return of Jahri Evans and the injury to Terron Armstead, Peat has alternated between playing left tackle and left guard.

While he has played extremely well in some of the games, his level of play has sharply dropped in recent weeks.

In fact, Pro Football Focus had him as the lowest rated left guard in the entire NFL for Week #14. The website actually said that Peat played better in the run game, but in pass protection he allowed three quarterback hurries, and three quarterback pressures.

While Peat is undoubtedly more of a road grader who is more comfortable in the running game, protecting Drew Brees is priority number one on the Saints offensive line.

If you can’t do that, you aren’t going to be successful, at least not in New Orleans.

The jury is still very much out on both of these picks. However, it is clear that neither one of them is currently providing first round value. Because they were taken in the first round, both players will be given more time and more opportunities than they otherwise might.

In my opinion, the Saints need to make a decision on both of these players over the course of the next three games.

Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Andrus Peat (Stanford) poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number 13th overall pick to the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

This is what is known as a “sunk cost” in economics.

The Saints have already used two first round picks on these players. No matter what happens, they aren’t getting those picks back. Instead of trying to force Peat and Anthony into being starters to justify the first round price tag, they need to evaluate Peat and Anthony on their own merits.

Are the Saints better when those players are on the field? Are the Saints in a position to where they can best utilize the skill sets both players have to offer?

If the answer to both questions is no, the Saints need to deal those players away, and try to get some value from them in the form of later round picks, or depth at another position via trade.

Continuing with looking at the Saints first round picks, there is a lingering situation with their 2014 first round jewel…..