The New Orleans Saints did some good things on offense and defense against Green Bay. They just didn’t do enough of them.
There were enough loose ends for the Saints that they couldn’t produce a victory Sunday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where the Packers posted a 37-30 victory that was the second consecutive loss for New Orleans (1-2).
Penalties continue to be a significant hindrance (eight for 83 yards against the Packers), especially defensively, and two starters on offense (left guard Andrus Peat and tight end Jared Cook) couldn’t finish the game due to injuries. New Orleans has some cleaning up to do before it can put itself in position to win, and the next opportunity for that will come Sunday on the road against Detroit.
OFFENSE: Overall, it probably was the Saints’ best offensive showing this season. They had 397 yards, quarterback Drew Brees was sharp (29 of 36 for 288 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions) and running back Alvin Kamara was phenomenal (13 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns, plus six rushes for 58 yards). But New Orleans left some points on the field, a no-no against a team the caliber of Green Bay, and Taysom Hill’s lost fumble – only a few plays after New Orleans made a midfield stand on fourth down – was a deflating blow. Brees and Emmanuel Sanders (four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown) showed some sync, and the Saints need it to continue to improve. Kamara is major target for opposing defenses, and he’s going to need the help until Michael Thomas returns.
DEFENSE: The penalties are too much. Successful teams aren’t penalized the way the Saints are committing penalties, because it’s tough to beat an opponent and yourself. Defensively, New Orleans was penalized for a horse collar tackle and three pass interference penalties (twice, in the end zone on the same drive and on one of them, an offside penalty was declined because the inference was the more egregious violation). The unit did have a fantastic fourth-down stop at midfield, with cornerback Marshon Lattimore supplying the clean-up tackle to finish off the defensive stand. But less than a handful of plays later, the defense was right back on the field following Hill’s lost fumble. Add in that the Packers also converted a third-and-12 when Aaron Rodgers scrambled for 13 yards, and it helps paint the picture of a unit that is struggling with its discipline and execution.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The unit avoided a catastrophe when J.T. Gray recovered Deonte Harris’ fumble on a kickoff return, and Wil Lutz made three more field goals (he’s a perfect 6 for 6 this season) as he remains one of the league’s best. But Gray also was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct on a punt cover – he ran out of bounds as a gunner and didn’t return to the field immediately – as special teams also go in on the penalties. It was a little sloppy but, overall, not terribly penal.