New Orleans Saints: Will They Survive 0-2 Start?

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Sep 16, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter as Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (76) and free safety Haruki Nakamura (43) and defensive end Antwan Applewhite (93) defend. The Panther defeated the Saints 35-27 at Bank of America Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USPresswire

The New Orleans Saints have maintained that “Bounty Gate”, and the subsequent fallout from the suspensions, would not affect the team heading into the 2012 NFL season.

They also were steadfast in proclaiming that the show would go on without head coach Sean Payton, who was suspended for the entire season by Roger Goodell.

After all the Saints have a system, it’s Sean Payton’s system, and regardless of who is calling the shots they where going to stick with what has made them successful.

In their defense no one has made any excuses, and it’s certainly would be understandable if they did, but excuses aside the Saints are clearly struggling.

Maybe the suspensions, the negative press, and all the time spent talking about how it wouldn’t affect them is affecting them after all — they are 0-2 for the first time since 2007.

Now before fans hit the panic button and throw in the towel on their season, they have at least been competitive offensively in both games after losing by only one score each time.

But there are concerns — across the board — as the Saints we all have grown accustomed to seeing, the third-down converting offensive juggernaut, is not the team on the field this season.

This season it’s a team that seems to lack fire, urgency, and the general swagger that has made them one of the NFL’s most successful teams over the last three years.

In week one the Saints came out flat against the Washington Redskins at the Superdome. The offense couldn’t get anything going, the defense was terrible, and penalties were excessive.

Yesterday against the Panthers the Saints jumped out to an early lead, but yet again the defense was leaky and the offense failed to generate much until late in the game.

There are plenty of reasons why the Saints are 0-2, primarily a defense — supposedly revamped this off season — that through two games is the NFL’s worst.

The Saints defense is ranked 32nd in total yards surrendered (461), 26th in pass yards (276), 32nd against the run (186), 31st in points against (37.5), 31st in takeaways (1, -4 differential), and 20th in sacks (3.5).

Steve Spagnuolo, one of the NFL’s most coveted defensive coordinators, was brought in this off season to rebuild the defense after Gregg Williams botched blitz heavy scheme.

Players like Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne, and Brodrick Bunkley were all big time free agent signings brought in specifically to boost the play of the defense.

Defensively the Saints were suppose to be better, at least on paper.

So far that’s clearly not the case.

The defensive line is not getting the pressure required to make Spagnuolo’s defense tick, and the secondary players often look lost in the zone coverage scheme.

New Orleans defense has grossly underperformed and something as simple as tackling seems to be a major issue.

The question is can they get it turned around in time to salvage the season.