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Ups and downs from Saints vs. Texans

Which players are on the rise and what issues does the team need to address?

New Orleans Saints v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints fell to 3-3 after a tough loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday. After the loss, many players were vocal about the team's execution and performance. Wide receiver Michael Thomas said, “We all could get better... It ain’t the coaches. It’s the players... It’s on us. I don’t want to hear nothing about no coach, calling no plays, none of that. Right now, we’ve just got to show how we can win, execute and make those plays.” Players are clearly frustrated with what they're leaving on the field.

Up: Carl Granderson

The New Orleans Saints invested big in defensive end Carl Granderson when they signed him to a 4-year $52 million extension. Granderson has recorded 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble this season while being a pest to the opposing team's quarterbacks. In the matchup against Houston, Granderson had 6 tackles, 2 for a loss, 1 sack, and a QB hit. The 2019 undrafted free agent has continued to make big plays for the Saints' defense, including his sack on Texans’ quarterback C.J. Stroud which would force Houston to punt that drive keeping the Saints in the game.

Up: Rashid Shaheed

Wide receiver Rashid Shaheed continues to make big plays for the Saints offense. Shaheed scored the Saints' first points of the game on a 34-yard touchdown reception. Shaheed also came up with a catch over a defender bailing out quarterback Derek Carr on an underthrown pass. This play could've resulted in a bigger gain and potentially a touchdown if Carr’s pass was more accurate.

Down: Blake Grupe

Blake Grupe had his worst game as a pro against Houston. Grupe was 2/4 on his attempts on Sunday missing a 52 and 29-yard attempt. Grupe’s missed field goals proved costly as the Saints were forced to go for the endzone over going for three to win it in their final drives. It’s clear the Saints have problems putting the ball in the end zone, which puts a lot of pressure on the kicker to convert what the offense can’t finish. Grupe also missed a crucial field goal against the Green Bay Packers that would've given the Saints the lead back in week 4. With trust dwindling for the young kicker, it's possible one more bad performance from the rookie could end his time in New Orleans.

Down: Red Zone Offense

Each week it seems the red zone offense can't get any worse, yet every time after they find a new way to not score. The offense ended the game having four straight drives inside the Texans' 30-yard line and scored a grand total of three points in those drives. In the final drive with a chance to tie the game at 20, quarterback Derek Carr threw four straight passes into the endzone from the Texans’ 24-yard line with 35 seconds left in the game and a timeout. It was poor execution from Carr, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, and the offensive line.

It’s simply too deep into the season for the Saints to continue experiencing these issues. Although they are 3-3, the Saints feel as if they are on the same tier level as all the teams contending for the #1 overall pick, but the problem is they are already out of the tank bowl. Derek Carr has had struggles throughout his whole career in the red zone, and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael isn't putting in the optimal personnel for these situations nor calling effective scoring plays. It’s hard to believe the Saints’ offense will improve much in these situations as they've experienced these problems since the beginning of the season and we haven't seen much, if any, improvement since then.

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