The New Orleans Saints lost 26-7 to Carolina Panthers in a divisional matchup dropping them to 1-1 and 0-1 in the division. The good guys were outnumbered so to speak going into this match up with the absence of 10 key offensive and defensive players out with injuries and eight coaches out due to COVID protocols.
Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from the Saints’ 26-7 loss to the Panthers.
Winner – Deonte Harris
One of the few bright spots in the loss was Deonte Harris, who had five returns for 156 yards today averaging 31.2 yards per return setting the Saints up with good field position. In a game where not much went right for NOLA, Harris was a major bright spot.
Winner – Demario Davis
Linebacker Demario Davis continues to be the catalyst and workhorse of the defense leading the team with eight solo tackles and 12 total. Davis and the defense didn’t have the stellar showing they had a week ago but this defense is still primed to compete when they’re fully healthy.
Davis was the only defensive player who stood out in a positive way who didn’t get flagged multiple times (Payton Turner…).
Loser – Offensive Line
The offensive line was virtually non-existent on Sunday, as the Panthers recorded four sacks on Jameis Winston and forced him into two interceptions. Carolina held the black and gold to just 128 yards of total offense.
The Panthers’ defensive line also stymied the Saints running game holding them to just 48 yards on the ground with 2.8 yards per carry and 2 of 13 on third and fourth downs.
The biggest issue stemmed from Erik McCoy being out due to injury and this caused communication issues. Cesar Ruiz is a decent right guard but moving to center is a difficult transition and it showed on Sunday.
Loser – Jameis Winston
After an effortless five touchdown showing last week versus the Packers, Winston struggled to regain that form against the Panthers, who harassed and hurried Winston all game. This, in turn, forced him to throw two Ill-advised interceptions and the Panthers’ D held him to just 111 yards on 11-of-22 attempts.
Winston looked uncomfortable and rattled from the start. He was very indecisive on plays where he could have tucked it and made something happen with his feet and at times it looked like he and the offensive line weren’t on the same page.
In order for this Sean Payton offense to be successful this year, Winston and the offensive line have to be clicking on all cylinders. Winston must not result to his old habits that saw him throw 30 plus interceptions forcing throws.
Losers – Saints coaching staff
With eight key coaches out due to the NFL’s COVID protocols, the Saints seemed to be missing something and that something was their key positions coaches and that showed up big time in this game with miscommunication throughout the entire game.
Hopefully, the Saints can make it to next week clear of COVID positive tests, get those coaches back, and get back to playing the kind of football we know this team is capable of.
It’s only one loss but this blowout defeat may have exposed some things New Orleans may have been hiding. Look for this Saints to bounce back next week against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.