The first handful of games for the Saints have been a very mixed bag. There's a lot that New Orleans has to clean up before they play the Panthers on Sunday, and it's hard to expect it fixed just like that. However, we just want to see some progress in several areas of the game. The Saints News Network Crew got together again to discuss their thoughts on where improvement is needed most for them to ultimately succeed.
Kyle T. Mosley
Offensively, establishing the tempo and tone of the game. There's an inconsistency in the play-calling, and Sean Payton and Pete Carmichael must address the underutilization of the rushing attack. Also, where are the tight ends most of the past five games? Defensively, the secondary is missing too many assignments. The safeties are not making plays - missed tackles, poor coverage, and a lack of turnovers. I assumed Malcolm Jenkins' return to the Saints would correct this issue, but it is still a troublesome and inconsistent area.
I'm sure most of us think that the biggest area of improvement for the Saints needs to be in the secondary. While I agree that it's this team's biggest weakness, and the ongoing penalties are a huge concern, I'll go with the offensive side of the ball. I would like to see New Orleans improve their offensive play-calling and execution on 3rd downs. The insertion of Taysom Hill at quarterback on 3rd downs is especially infuriating, causing the offense to be predictable and often killing momentum on several occasions this year. It's even led to thoughts of ending this project.
The area I would like the Saints to focus on this bye week is minimizing their massive penalties.
While some will point to the offense and say offensive consistency, New Orleans is top-5 in the league in points per game and are not yet clicking on all cylinders. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? So, for that reason I am going to look at mental lapses/penalties and say that is where I want to see the Saints improve most.
On Monday night against the Chargers, the Saints committed just 5 penalties (3 on special teams) and there was not a massive defensive pass interference call at any point in the ball game. However, Patrick Robinson got caught with “bad eyes” and allowed Mike Williams to sprint by on a 60-yard TD reception. These mental lapses on the back end have cost the Saints in crucial parts of the first quarter of the season, but thankfully these errors can be fixed.
Some of you have heard the phrase “You can’t fix a bad team”, but the Saints are not that. Frankly, top to bottom this may be the most talented roster Sean Payton has had in his 15 years as the Saints Head Coach. The bye week could not have come at a better time for the Saints, who need to get healthy physically and grow mentally.
It's weird seeing some of the issues the Saints have had playing out. It makes you wonder if training camp would have helped, or maybe having a preseason could have helped. Even having fans in the stands could have been an advantage for them. Nothing about this season is normal, and the good news is there is a lot of football left for this team.
We know that this is a very talented team on paper, and it's arguably the best one under Sean Payton. You can fix and tweak things, and the adjustments are expected going forward. Again, it won't be fixed overnight, but the main theme is improvement. New Orleans sees two of their next three games against the division, with a Week 9 rematch against a Bucs team that looked their best against the Packers on Sunday. It's hardly a sprint in this league, but we just want to see the Saints be in shape to be able to contend in the marathon.