Poor execution and communication, sloppy and sub-standard performances, and slow adjustments in coaching encapsulated the New Orleans Saints day in Carolina.
Sunday, we witnessed a New Orleans Saints team that never found a rhythm on offense and key players who were sulking. I couldn't believe LT Terron Armstead would, on the down low, call out his quarterback for turnovers, especially since Drew Brees had several bad turnover days with Armstead. Kamara did not look and respond on the field like Alvin Kamara.
Sunday was a bad day. Period.
Jameis Winston was never comfortable in the pocket. He was blitz, tugged on, and hit by the Panther's defenders. The receivers were not open, Alvin Kamara was ineffective, and the makeshift offensive line was leaky.
Winston's two mind-boggling interceptions did not help his cause in the loss. Some fans were already asking for a quarterback change - sorry, not going to happen just yet.
Sean Payton's play calls weren't sharp as usual. He could find the right balance. The rushing attack was off-track.
In the NFL, expect a team to have poor outings. The Saints had to climb a tall mountain to overcome the loss of assistant coaches, stars on injured reserve, and several starters inactive for the game. Winston will learn, and the Saints will learn how to win with him.
New Orleans will travel to the northeast and face the New England Patriots in Foxboro at Gillette Stadium.
Fifteen games remain in the season. New Orleans is 1-1 for the season and 0-1 in the NFC South.
SAINTS REPORT CARD - WEEK 2
Saints Offense (D)
Quarterback (D) - Blitzes and a porous offensive line neutralized QB Jameis Winston. C Erik McCoy's absence is a major factor. Winston alluded he needed to be louder for the o-line to hear his protection assignments. Second-year C/G Cesar Ruiz is at Erik McCoy's level yet. His stats of 11/22, 111 yards, 2 INT, and 26.9 QBR are alarming. I don't believe we will ever see Winston repeating this type of performance.
Running Backs (D) - At one point, I believe an "FBI Missing Person Alert" was sent for the whereabouts of Alvin Kamara and Tony Jones. I noticed AK's body language in the second half, and his attempts for the football were unlike a Kamara effort. Taysom Hill rushed twice. Forty-eight yards is not the balance the Saints required to sustain drives.
Receivers (D-) - The second consecutive game where No. 1 receiver Marquez Callaway (4 catches for 2 yards) was ineffective. The receiving corps totaled a whopping 111 yards. Let's be honest, Michael Thomas' return cannot come soon enough. Hopefully, Kenny Stills can help.
Offensive Line (F) - New Orleans Saints football starts and ends with the offensive and defensive lines. In this game, the o-line was 'out of sync,' and communication was poor. Winston was running for his life as protection broke down on multiple plays. False start penalties at the beginning of the game were uncharacteristic. Offensive line coach Dan Rousher's presence along the sidelines was missed.
Saints Defense (C+)
Defensive Line (C+) - The defensive line did not have a bad game. They were tired most of the contest due to the Saints offense's inconsistency on 3rd down conversions. New Orleans' d-line allowed 83 rushing yards. They allowed QB Sam Darnold to carve up the Saints' secondary in the first half. 2 Sacks and 3 QB Hits were mostly in the second half after making halftime adjustments. Great INT by DT Malcolm Roach. First-round pick Payton Turner grabbed his first sack, 5 tackles, 3 TFL, and 1 QB Hit.
Linebackers (C+) - Nothing spectacular from the group. Zack Baun (7 tackles) and Demario Davis (12 tackles) had flashes, but Elliss did not record a tackle.
Secondary (C+) - Malcolm Jenkins and Marcus Williams held down the defensive backs without inactive Marshon Lattimore and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Darnold picked on Paulson Adebo; he allowed a touchdown, but the rookie defended well with seven tackles. Bradley Roby (1 Sack) and Desmond Trufant (2 tackles, one pass defended) made a couple of plays. It could've been worse, but the unit displayed promise.
Saints Special Teams (A-)
Punter Blake Gillikin boomed, and I mean, boomed punts all day long. His six punts for 294 yards and a 49.0 yards/punt average were excellent in his second start. His longest was 60 yards. Deonte Harris gave New Orleans a good field position off the kickoff returns and netted 156 yards for 31.2 yards/return - his longest of 39 yards. Punt returns were a moot point. Alex Rosas connected on his lone extra point.
Saints Coaching (D+)
Sean Payton told us, "It starts with me." In the NFL, there aren't excuses for the lack of execution in all phases of the game, and coaching is one. He missed his offensive assistants, who tested positive for COVID-19. Sean Payton's offensive line appeared discombobulated, and he did not make the necessary adjustments early in the contest. With 15 games remaining, he, Winston, and the offense will improve. The remaining assistants did their best.
Overall Grade (D+)
Do I have to explain? 26-7 could have been worse from a better team. New Orleans will rebound.