After a 2-5 start, New Orleans is approaching territory where they throw in the towel on this season. Being in arguably the worst division in football, they can still salvage the year by winning the division but let’s look at why this team can’t close games.
LIABILITY No. 1: OC/COACHING
Pete Carmichael has been bad at play-calling. He doesn’t know when to run, he doesn’t know when or how to scheme the passing game. He played ‘‘not to lose’ against Cincy in the second half and what did they do? Lose. The biggest issue is that he’s load managing peak Alvin Kamara, the best RB in football. He starts drives with AK on the sideline, on top of sidelining AK in the red zone... on top of sidelining AK on 3rd downs… it’s nonsensical.
Ingram & Taysom should not be taking away as many touches from AK as they are, no matter what way you look at it. AK has eclipsed 105+ scrimmage yards in three consecutive games, averaging more than 4.5 YPC this season. Again, this is while he’s splitting touches and snaps with 2-3 other guys.
Having a QB room of players with completely different intangibles, Pete has been on record insisting the playbook is essentially the same regardless of who’s at QB (??). The numbers offensively have picked up over the past month, but the turnovers are still there, drives stall out on second-and-long runs that go nowhere and more importantly, this team settles for field goals too often. It’s been the same story… every… week...
LIABILITY No. 2: SECONDARY
This secondary gives up big plays for fun nowadays. The front office foolishly let BOTH Marcus Williams and Ceedy Deuce go in the name of depth. Well, now that depth is nonexistent.
Lattimore banged up his abdomen trying to make a play for someone else, Adebo. Adebo has missed games on top of being average when he’s playing. Tyrann Mathieu is a shell of himself, and misses tackles every game. Roby has been decent but still gets beat at the worst times.
The bright spots in this secondary are Lattimore (best in the business), Marcus Maye & rookie Alontae Taylor. The rest haven’t been good enough, and this started with letting Williams walk. He’s a top five FS with Ed Reed-like range in the passing game. Letting him go led to the defensive scheme(s) being changed which has led to an inferior defense.
The pass rush isn’t bad but could be a lot better. New Orleans only managed two sacks and two QB hits against Arizona, also allowing three red-zone TDs in four trips. This is a defense that’s been known for excellence in the red-zone and bending but not breaking. Not so much anymore.
LIABILITY No. 3: HEALTH/MICHAEL THOMAS
Injuries are a part of football; it happens to every team but not as much as it happens to the Saints. This is another year of going through the same thing with Mike, health.
We know how great he still is but he’s our go-to guy and we can never go to him. He’s as patient as ever returning from injuries - nothing wrong with that - but this isn’t the NBA/MLB. You can’t casually miss games to get ready for the long run because there won’t be a long run if this team misses the playoffs.
Now it’s at a point where there’s no room for error. New Orleans has been battered with injuries for consecutive years so in no way should Mike get extra blame - But if you’re the team’s biggest receiving threat & you’ve missed 22 of the last 24 games, you’re a liability.
LIABILITY No. 4: TURNOVERS
New Orleans is -10 in the turnover margin, worst in football. They give the ball away and haven’t weathered that storm by creating enough turnovers. All five losses have come by one possession (lost to Tampa by 10 but that was clearly a one possession game). You can’t win in the NFL when you consistently give teams extra possessions, common knowledge.
After this upcoming 10-day rest, most of the core should be back and healthy. Unfortunately, it might be too late to save this season because again there’s no room for error. A lot of football still to be played, we’ll see how the team responds. The only goal at this point should be to win the division.