The New Orleans Saints were outplayed in every way against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2’s 26-7 loss. Sure, there were exigent circumstances that contributed to the loss. Eight coaches were sidelined due to COVID-19 and Marshon Lattimore and C.J. Gardner-Johnson were late scratches, leaving Paulson Adebo on an island with D.J. Moore all game.
But one issue was within the team’s control: The Saints don’t have a D.J. Moore. They don’t even have a Brandon Zylstra. The Saints’ wide receiving corps has been utterly toothless, catching 11 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Presumed No. 1 Marquez Callaway has three catches for 22 yards, and it’s hard to see anyone breaking out for the timing being.
Jameis Winston is suffering for it as well. In spite of a sublime Week 1, the aura around the Saints offense is far more dour than one might expect. Against the Panthers, Winston was under constant pressure, and through the first two weeks of the season he’s 31st in the NFL in passing. Winston has just 259 yards, and his five touchdowns all came against the Packers.
While circumstances make it hard to press the panic button with regards to Winston, the receiving situation is dire. Players aren’t getting separation, and defenses don’t have to respect the pass. A 55-yard touchdown pass to Deonte Harris in Week 1 is a nice notch on the resume for Winston, but that was well after the game was out of hand.
Kenny Stills is going to have to come and make an immediate impact for the Saints. The former Saints, Dolphins, and Texans receiver may not be the receiver he was during his first stint in New Orleans, but he does bring some experience and speed to a Saints receiving corps that desperately needs a bit of both.
Reinforcements aren’t coming any time soon either. Michael Thomas was placed on the COVID list last week in addition to being on the Physically Unable to Perform list for an ankle surgery incurred during the offseason.
In terms of free agents, the Saints could pursue John Brown, a surprise release by the Las Vegas Raiders. However, the fact Brown hasn’t been picked up yet could either be a league-wide game of chicken or some red flags have arisen. Alshon Jeffrey and Larry Fitzgerald are also on the market, but neither would really solve anything for the Saints despite being big names.
One thing is sure: The Saints need to figure out who they are. They may not be the powerhouse Week 1 team that played against the Packers, but they likely aren’t the limp team that showed up against the Panthers. They’re someone in the middle, but to mitigate their problems, they have to address a hole on the roster that is only getting wider as the season goes on.
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