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5 burning questions for the 2021 New Orleans Saints

And I promise, not all of them are about Jameis vs Taysom.

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints quarterback situation would be a huge topic of conversation in the NFL if it weren’t for Aaron Rodgers allegedly wanting out of Green Bay, Julio Jones wanting out of Atlanta, sexual assault allegations against Deshaun Watson, and tensions high with Russell Wilson in Seattle.

It has been a crazy offseason already, hasn’t it?

While “Where will Aaron Rodgers play in 2021?” and “Who gets Julio Jones?” are some of the biggest questions in all of the NFL, here are my five biggest questions for the 2021 Saints

Who will be the Saints starting quarterback?

Sean Payton has consistently stated that there is an open quarterback competition heading into the 2021 season, with both Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston looking to win the job. I’ve gone on record numerous times, explaining why I think Jameis Winston will eventually be the Saints starter this season, but until it’s official, it’s the biggest question for the 2021 Saints.

What will the offense look like?

In a way, this ties into the above question about “who is the starting quarterback” but not really. When Taysom Hill took over for an injured Drew Brees last season, the offense looked...different. It was more of a power running game behind Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, and the aforementioned Taysom. But what if Jameis were to win the job? Does that mean the offense looks like it did with Drew Brees under center in 2020? Or is there a chance that a quarterback with the arm strength of Jameis opens up the Saints playbook in a way that we haven’t seen since 2011?

Who will be the Saints WR2?

Sticking with the offense, there are plenty of questions at the Saints skills positions outside of Alvin Kamara. Who is the quarterback? Who is the primary pass-catching tight end? Is Michael Thomas fully healthy?

But for me, the biggest question on the offense that isn’t centered around the quarterback turns on who will be the primary receiving option after Michael Thomas? Alvin Kamara is one of the NFL’s biggest threats to catch passes out of the backfield, but other than Kamara and Thomas, there are lot of targets to be picked up. Jared Cook is a Charger. Emmanuel Sanders in a Bill. Josh Hill retired. Tre’Quan Smith was hurt. Deonte Harris was hurt. Marquez Callaway was hurt. Opposing defenses will just focus on eliminating Michael Thomas from the game if the Saints can’t find a viable receiving threat on the opposite side of the field. Maybe it’s Tre’Quan. Maybe it’s Adam Trautman. Maybe in Callaway. But it needs to be someone.

Will the defense regress?

When discussing the players who are no longer on the Saints team from last season, it’s hard not to focus in on the defense. Trey Hendrickson, Janoris Jenkins, Sheldon Rankins, Malcom Brown, and Alex Anzalone are all on new teams in 2021. Kwon Alexander remains a free agent, but is coming back from an Achilles injury. When any team loses three former first round picks, a former Pro Bowler, and the NFC’s sack leader, it’s hard not to foresee at least a little regression in the following year. The real question is probably not “Will they regress” but “How bad will it be?”

Can Lutz right the ship?

We covered it more in Wil Lutz’s year in review piece, but here’s the concerning statistic:

From Weeks 10-14, Lutz went just 2 for 6 from 40+ yards, missing two long attempts against the Eagles in a game the Saints would go on to lose by three points.

Yikes. Add in a missed extra point in Week 17, and you can understand why the Saints were potentially looking at different kicking options late in the season.

Without Drew Brees at quarterback, the Saints’ margin for error will be smaller than ever. If the Saints want to be contenders in 2021, they will need Lutz to be automatic in the kicking game. If Lutz struggles early in 2021, look for Sean Payton and the Saints to again test the waters on other available kickers.

Those are my questions for the 2021 Saints. What are yours? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, on Instagram @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel.