Mandatory Credit: Photo by Butch Dill/AP/Shutterstock (13400111bz) New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore breaks up a pass intended for Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans during the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans Buccaneers Saints Football, New Orleans, United States – 18 Sep 2022
Week 2 ended with the Saints falling to division rival the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-10. They’re now 1-1 on the season. That 1-1 could very well be 0-2. This game was a defensive struggle until the Saints became completely unhinged after the fight fiasco. They held a 3-0 lead at that point. The ensuing 20-7 run by the Bucs was indicative of the inconsistency that has plagued New Orleans thus far this season. Here are some of my reflections on last week’s loss:
The defense will carry this team early
You have to be prepared when playing a team that can score like Tampa Bay. They throw a wave of running backs at you with various styles and skill sets. Their receivers are challenging to cover because of their size. Oh, and that Tom Brady guy is pretty good too. Despite their injuries, they came to play. So did the Saints’ defense. They held a 3-0 lead into the third quarter. The defense is the best of the three units on this team. Special teams place second, and the offense is a distant third at this point. Everyone knew this defense would be good. Head coach Dennis Allen has had that side of the ball performing at a high level for years. No reason to expect a drop-off now that he’s the head coach. They will have to carry the yoke for this squad until the offense can catch up.
Offensive line not playing well
Yes, the offensive line is missing rookie Trevor Penning. Yes, he was to replace a former All-Pro at left tackle. No, he isn’t the reason for the poor performances we’ve seen so far this season. There were blitzes that the Falcons and Bucs ran that the line failed to communicate on and allowed pressures and/or sacks. There were times in which guys appeared to miss blocking assignments on routine plays. Jameis Winston likes to take shots down the field. He needs adequate time to do so. If he can’t get time to scan the field or fails to get the ball out on time, we’ll continue to see poor passing performances. Whether run blocking or pass protection, this line leaves a lot to be desired. Not having Alvin Kamara running behind them may be a thing. They ran for yards in the first half vs. the Falcons. They’ve rushed for 147 yards in six quarters of football since. Some of that was due to them being down in that Falcons game. They must step it up, or this team can forget about making the playoffs.
Trust and/or chemistry
Winston threw deep to Chris Olave several times. They connected on one. Olave promptly lost the fumble and killed a scoring opportunity. There was also one failed deep ball intercepted in the end zone. Those plays took points off the board. With the offense struggling early on, mistakes that take points off the board can be crippling. I attribute this to chemistry. The o-line struggles can be chemistry-related as well. The trust factor comes into play with the play-calling. Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael has to trust his guys to execute. If they can’t execute, his calls will change to what he feels they’re capable of performing. Execution, trust, and chemistry are things the offense needs to correct. Those all take time, but they don’t have time. The season has started, and the lack of production so far is troubling.
Whoever decided to have the Saints start with three consecutive division opponents is an awful person. Five straight NFC games to begin the year too? Downright mean. Fortunately, they get the Carolina Panthers this week. The Panthers don’t scare anyone, but they could be scary when facing a struggling Saints team. This is why they play the games.