The New Orleans Saints may have shattered expectations for the first half of the season but not every player had the kind of first half that they envisioned.
Heading into the 2019 season, it is safe to say that a realistic expectation for the New Orleans Saints by the bye week would be a 6-2 or 7-1 record. The Saints have been the best team in the NFC record-wise the last two years and that certainly felt doable, even with a hard start to the schedule.
However, once Drew Brees went down in Week 2 with a torn thumb ligament, those expectations were shot out of the window and a 5-3 or 4-4 record seemed more reasonable.
The Saints continued to blow those expectations out of the water with a 5-0 run without Brees that has given the team a 7-1 record at the break. The defense has really stepped up, Teddy Bridgewater has been much better than anticipated and overall, the team has played great.
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While most of the roster has stepped up because of Brees’ absence, not everyone has been as good as hoped for this year. However, that just leaves more room for improvement in the second half, which is aided by having a bye-week right in the middle of the year.
The player that has underwhelmed the most and is due for the biggest turnaround in the second half is tight end Jared Cook, who has not played the last two games with an ankle injury.
It is still unclear whether or not Cook will suit up against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10 but he should be ready to go after that. Once he is back in the fold, he is primed to be a much-bigger weapon than he has been this year.
Cook has arguably been hurt the most by Brees’ injury. While he still was not great in the first two weeks, he has not gotten the opportunities that he would have if Brees was under center this entire time. His targets went from seven in Week 2 to two in Week 3.
He did start to get more targets as Bridgewater got more comfortable but he is yet to have a good game. The most receiving yards that Cook has had in a game is 41. He did not get his first touchdown until Week 5 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, although he did get touchdowns in back-to-back weeks.
This is surprising as it is coming from a guy who hauled in 896 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season. Those are incredible numbers for a tight end and even more incredible considering his quarterback was Derek Carr.
In an offensive-minded team with a Hall of Fame quarterback, who has history with a great tight end in the offense, you would think that Cook would thrive. That just has not been the case yet this year, although he has been a victim of circumstance more than anything.
With Brees back in the fold, the New Orleans Saints are going to start including Cook more in the gameplan and start finding out who is going to be the most reliable second target behind Michael Thomas, who is going to be the main focus for defenses in the playoffs.
As a result, Cook is going to start putting together big games and get the season numbers back towards a respectable number.