The Saints faced the Green Bay Packers Sunday night. While their performance was improved over the first two weeks, it wasn’t enough for a victory.
Well, it was better for the New Orleans Saints.
When you’re 1-2, you have to find small victories and hope they will lead to larger, actual victories. The Saints played better than they’d played in the first two weeks of the season. It did not lead to a victory, but at this point, we have do the half-full glass thing.
Looking at the Saints’ performance by some numerical measures, offensively they performed better. An offense that has seemed to struggle to find its footing for the first two weeks got a little giddy-up.
That is largely thanks to Alvin Kamara. Through the first three games of this season, the only players in the league on a demonstrably equal level to Kamara are Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson. That’s strong company.
Kamara has been instant offense.
While Michael Thomas has been hurt and Drew Brees has been slowly finding his footing, Kamara has shown he’s worth every penny of the money they’ve signed him to. His 52-yard scoring reception was as good as any Saints TD as we’ve seen in recent history.
Brees actually had better passing stats than Aaron Rodgers, though the numbers might be a bit misleading.
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Rodgers missed more passes and threw for fewer yards but really made more plays than Brees in Sunday night’s game. But considering the pace Brees was setting in the first two games, it was nice to see him find some rhythm and lead the offense.
As usual, when things aren’t going well coaching gets called into play.
It’s on Sean Payton to open up the offense a bit. Brees isn’t going downfield much but how much of that is play calling? Offensive football is often hit and miss. But there are occasions when you have to wonder how certain plays are brought up.
We are not coaches, so it’s hard to criticize. While Taysom Hill’s fumble was a major factor in the loss, we held the Packers to a field goal on that possession.
We needed a serious offensive spark on the next drive. But the series of plays in that ensuing drive of three and out seemed uninspired. A three-yard pass to Kamara, a two-yard pass to Deonte Harris, and a screen pass to Kamara just don’t seem like a typical imaginative Payton offense.
Despite the Saints scoring 30 points, they lost the game, and for that, a finger has to point at the defense.
Typically Week 3 is where the defense begins to show signs of pulling together. There were moments on Sunday night where the defense looked as though they were gaining ground. But then wide-open receivers emerged and it seems as though the defense was running in mud.
What’s troublesome is beyond Malcolm Jenkins and Alex Anzalone being healthy, this defense is really the same as last year’s defense that was ranked 13th in points allowed.
Currently, we sit at 27th in that category. It’s only three games in and that can change exponentially and rapidly. But the defense has to make that happen. The pass rush with the front four has been non-existent and coverage cooperation has been spotty.
Beyond this, the biggest thing has to be how undisciplined this team is.
Last season the Saints had 120 penalties for 1036 yards. We’ve already gotten ⅓ of those penalty yards and we’re only three weeks into the season. The Saints have been hit 24 times for 331 yards. T
hat’s three TD’s worth of yards lost or more than the difference in the two losses.
Three weeks into the season, it’s too early to hit the panic button. This is not the team we expected to see, but things may not be as bad as they seem. We did scrape by Tampa Bay and that’s a huge division win.
We played two likely playoff teams in the last two weeks; Green Bay is as good as any team in the NFC currently. They and Seattle have to be considered the top contenders through the early season.
The Saints schedule levels out beginning this week. We play the next four games against four teams with the same record we currently have. Detroit, the Chargers, Carolina, and Chicago are all 1-2. And the Saints should be better than all those teams.
The Saints wish list right now should be short:
Get to the bye week at 3-2 and without any more injuries
Wish Michael Thomas back to health by week 7
Get to 5-2 by the time we go to Tampa Bay
I know it’s one game at a time and, when you fall behind early in the year like this, even more so. But if these things don’t happen, this would be a long season of unfulfilled promise.