It wasn’t quite an NFL blast from the past when San Diego beat the Raiders last week. Just the same, Don Coryell would’ve loved it.
Two smooth San Diego receivers in old gold, not powder blue and gold, made eight receptions worth 90 yards combined, furthering the Saints’ 24-0 victory over the Raiders.
New Orleans, hit by injuries, has turned to the NFL newbies from San Diego, Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed, who won honors with Mission Hills and Mt. Carmel high schools, respectively.
Olave, 22, has responded by going long. In deep passes, he’s second to Dolphins star Tyreek Hill in targets (17) and tied for fourth in catches (six). His 14.8 yards per catch stands fourth, tied with recent Super Bowl wideouts Tee Higgins and Mike Evans. He’s eighth in Pro Football Focus’ receiver rankings.
Shaheed, 24, has popped two long TD plays: a 44-yard end-around rush that eluded two Bengals defenders, and a 53-yard TD catch of Andy Dalton’s heave beyond two Cardinals defenders, inspiring a San Diego-themed, Saints’ Tweet referencing Top Gun:
“I feel the need, the need for Shaheed!”
Olave, drafted 11th, leads the team with 37 catches and 547 receiving yards. He’s second with two TD catches. Adaptive, he’s caught passes from three Saints quarterbacks (Jameis Winston, Dalton and Taysom Hill); overcome a concussion that sidelined him for a game-plus; and blunted injuries to veterans Jarvis Landry and Michael Thomas, the latter a frequent mentor and fellow Ohio State alum.
Shaheed wasn’t drafted, perhaps for the better. The Weber State alum garnered the eighth-highest financial guarantee among this year’s college free agents, per the Indianapolis Star, and chose a team whose veterans raised health concerns.
It was in his NFL debut, Oct. 16 in Week 6, that the 6-foot, 180-pound Shaheed took a jet-motion handoff to the end zone. Four days later he stung Arizona in a Thursday night contest, also returning two punts for 28 yards. The Raiders couldn’t stop Shaheed from gaining 30 yards on one of his career-high three receptions, or Olave from catching five passes for 52 yards.
A surprising eighth in points scored, the Saints (3-5) figure to target the two Monday night, versus the visiting Ravens (5-3).