3 Takeaways From Saints Loss to the Packers
The New Orleans Saints (1-2) were defeated Sunday Night by the Green Bay Packers (3-0) by the score of 37-30 inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. In their second consecutive prime-time game, the Saints jumped out to a lead at the end of the first quarter but could not hold the lead in the second half.
Below are key takeaways from Sunday night's showdown.
BREES HAS TRUST ISSUES WITH HIS RECEIVERS
The Saints were without Michael Thomas for the second consecutive week, and without the NFL’s single-season leader in receptions, the Saints passing offense again leaned heavily on Alvin Kamara. No. 41 led the Saints with 14 targets making 13 receptions against the Packers. However, Kamara’s monster was not enough to pull off the victory.
New Orleans’ offense looked more in sync than a week ago, seeing more production from Emmanuel Sanders and Latavius Murray. Six different Saints hauled in multiple receptions, but the check down pass to Kamara remained Brees’ favorite play.
Brees, though efficient, did not look like he wanted to “turn it loose” when under pressure and instead dropped off a pass to the 2017 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. Drew acknowledged in the press conference that Sean Payton called a few “shot” plays throughout the game, but the Packers secondary and pass rush did not allow Brees enough time to launch one downfield to Smith, Harris, and Sanders. Watching the film on Monday may tell a different story, but from first glance, Drew is not comfortable with his receivers without Michael Thomas in the lineup.
PENALTIES AND SECONDARY LAPSES COST THE SAINTS AGAIN
The Saints entered Week 3, leading the NFL in penalties. Unfortunately for them, the trend continued into Sunday night’s contest. After committing over 100-yards worth of penalties in each of the last two games, New Orleans’ 81 penalty yards were a better number on paper but resulted in the same disappointment on the field.
Untimely mental errors doomed the Saints in the second half, particularly in the secondary. Aaron Rodgers' uncanny ability to execute the perfect play-action fake put New Orleans’ defensive backs in tough spots throughout the night, especially deep down the field. Marcus Williams and Janoris Jenkins were both guilty of pass interference calls down the stretch of the ball game. These uncharacteristic mental lapses from a Sean Payton coached team have the Saints starring at a 1-2 record and presenting questions on the team’s Super Bowl aspirations.
TURNING POINT: TAYSOM HILL'S FUMBLE
Taysom Hill's fumble was a huge moment in the game. It followed a tremendous defensive 4th and 1 stop of Green Bay running back Aaron Jones. The New Orleans offense took the field riding a wave of emotion and momentum in their favor. They had an opportunity to take the lead in the 4th Quarter.
Taysom Hill trotted onto the field and lined up as the quarterback in a heavy set shotgun look. Hill took the snap and ran the read-option with Latavius Murray. 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi; Hill held the ball a fraction of a second too long in Murray's belly before deciding to take the ball to turn upfield. He slightly mishandled and could not secure the fake exchange. Packers linebacker Za'Darius Smith darted into the backfield and knocked the football from Hill. Hill fumbles as a swarm of Green and Yellow pounced on him and the football. The Packers recovered the loose pigskin, and the momentum swung back to Green Bay.
Hill’s usage through the first two weeks raised a few eyebrows. The Swiss Army Knife appeared to be gathering rust with only 1 reception for 14 yards and 21 rushing yards through two weeks. New Orleans again used Hill sparingly Sunday night, carrying the ball twice for six yards and making one grab for one yard. Unfortunately for Hill, his highlight from his game will be a lowlight. His fumble near midfield allowed the Packers to regain their confidence, score, and extend their lead, ultimately giving them the victory.
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