It was going to happen eventually, the New Orleans Saints were not going to go undefeated. It was only a matter of when they would lose and how, and they lost to the Green Bay Packers 17–18. The Saints allowed 18 unanswered points in the second half to lose a game that should have been won.
The issues for this are numerous, but the most obvious would be the shoulder injury that Derek Carr took at the beginning of the third quarter. He was forced to leave the game following a sack by Packers linebacker Rashan Gary, one of his three in the game. After going to the locker room he was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
So it was that the Saints backup quarterback Jamies Winston would enter the game. While he played decently, the offense, nevertheless, noticeably stalled with him under center.
By stall, I mean that every single one of the Saints second half drives ended in punts or, at the very end of the game, a missed field goal.
With individuals such as receivers Chris Olave, Micheal Thomas and even Jimmy Graham, who caught a touchdown, the offensive unit as a whole looked stale without a solid play caller.
This also comes down to the Saints offensive line, which has started to become more and more of a problem as the season goes on.
Against the Packers, they allowed four sacks, five tackles for losses and six quarterback hits. The offensive line can not let the opponent’s defenses get pressures like this and still expect to win.
The other issue comes from the Saints defense, which during the first half was absolutely lights out against Jordan Love and the Packers. They broke up multiple passes and shut the offense down completely, not even letting them try a field goal.
The second half though was a completely different story. They started allowing big plays and began making bad decisions in coverage, drawing multiple pass interference flags.
That is just the secondary though, looking at the line one would find the massive lack of a Saints pass rush. The Saints front seven recorded no sacks, the only sack on the day coming from cornerback Alontae Taylor. What makes this even worse for them is the fact that the Packers were starting two backup offensive linemen.
It is, all together, one of the worst 30 minutes of football I have seen the Saints play this season, in a while actually.
The Saints opponent this week are division rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by, for the first time since 2020, a quarterback not named Tom Brady. Instead they take to the field under Baker Mayfield.
Now, I am writing this before their Monday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles, so I will not have the most up to date info as I write this.
The Buccaneers have, so far this season, shocked many as they have started 2–0 with wins coming over the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. Now, to call the Bears a good team is definitely a stretch, and the Vikings have been struggling massively so far this season. So that 2-0 record might deserve an asterisk.
That should not take away from the football that Mayfield has been playing so far this season. Through its first two games he has seemed to be able to recapture some of his college and Cleveland form.
Through two games, he has a 69.1% completion rate with 490 yards and three touchdowns, but most importantly no interceptions. This play will be tested against the Eagles, the Bucs and his first real test.
The most important factors in the Bucs’ good play has come in the form of their offensive line, which has only allowed one sack so far this season, and the ever reliant Mike Evans.
Evans has so far caught 12 receptions for 237 yards and two touchdowns, giving Mayfield a reliable receiver, someone he can throw to and have confidence that they will come down with the ball.
The Buccaneers have even got a run game, of sorts, with second year running back Rachaad White getting the lionshare of the team’s carries after the team cut Lenord Fournette in the off season.
Though he is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry, it is still better than what the team had with Fournette last season.
This game will come down to one thing, one person actually. Will Derek Carr be able to start? Carr, as I finish writing this, was sent to the hospital following the game. If Carr does not start I do not know if the Saints offense can get off the runway to play the Bucs.
While Alvin Kamara is making his return this game following his three game suspension, I am not sure if he can just return and carry the Saints to a win.
I could honestly go either way in terms of picking a winner, but I want to believe in the Saints so I will pick them to bounce back and beat their division opponents 17–14.