The New Orleans Saints haven't been eliminated from the playoffs, but they're about as close as you can possibly get. So what do they have left to play for coming out of their Week 14 bye? Pride is one thing. So are individual accomplishments. No one wants to be left counting stats and checking the box score in late December, but that's where we are. And first-year wide receiver Chris Olave has given Saints fans plenty to cheer about.
Olave will come out of the Saints bye week needing 251 receiving yards to break the rookie record his mentor Michael Thomas set in 2016 (1,137). He'll have four weeks to go the distance and improve on the 887-yard total he's put up so far. Olave and Thomas are the only players to have at least 40 receiving yards in each of their first 12 games in the NFL since 1970.
It could be close. That calls for an average of 62.8 yards per game. Though he's paced 73.9 yards per outing on the season, Olave has put up 40, 102, 62, and 65 yards the last four weeks (an average of 67.3 yards per game). The Saints will face pass defenses ranked 26th (Atlanta Falcons), 15th (Cleveland Browns), 1st (Cleveland Browns), and 14th (Carolina Panthers) in passing yards allowed per game down the stretch.
The rookie has proven to be a flexible, quarterback-proof weapon thanks to his impressive production against both man and zone coverage, but he'd probably have a better shot at taking the record with Jameis Winston at quarterback instead of Andy Dalton. Winston has a stronger arm and can get more out of Olave as a vertical threat, which we saw early this season.
Olave had 4 receptions of 20-plus yards in the first 3 weeks with Winston at quarterback. He's since had 5 receptions of 20-plus yards across 9 games with Dalton under center (while also catching 2 passes of 21 and 41 yards from Taysom Hill after Dalton was named the starter). That's not to say the Saints should make a switch just so Olave has a better shot at this record. It's just illustrating our point. Whoever is throwing to him should be doing so early and often regardless of his place in the history books.
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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire