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Ups and downs from Saints vs. Packers

Which players impressed and what does the team need to fix?

New Orleans Saints v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints lost to the Green Bay Packers 18-17 on Sunday. After scoring 17 unanswered points, QB Derek Carr left the game early in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. After Carr’s exit, the Saints’ offense failed to find a rhythm, and the Packers scored 18 straight points.

Up: Chris Olave

WR Chris Olave has been a bright spot for the Saints offense all year, bringing in 22 receptions for 302 yards in just three games. When Jameis Winston took over for a hurt Derek Carr during Sunday’s game against the Packers, Chris Olave was his safety valve. Winston looked to his star receiver to make plays in the fourth quarter and he delivered. Olave would get 46 of his 104 yards in the fourth quarter. With Carr likely to miss some time, the 2nd-year receiver will be Winston’s best friend with his ability to find weak spots in the zone and make life easier for his quarterback.

Up: Alontae Taylor

CB Alontae Taylor recorded five pass breakups, five tackles, and a sack on Sunday’s loss against the Packers. Taylor was switching between the slot and the outside with starting outsiden CB Paulson Adebo being inactive due to injury. On top of Taylor’s impressive coverage stats, he also made an impact with strong open-field tackles recording two tackles for loss.

Taylor may get a lot of criticism for Sunday’s performance because of a pass interference call on the Packers’ last touchdown drive and later in that same drive giving up a big completion, but Taylor has shown a lot of growth through the first three games of the season. It is important to note that Taylor was an outside corner in both college and his first season in the NFL, so learning the slot will be a process, but if Taylor performs at the level he did on Sunday, the Saints will be just fine.

Down: Defensive line

The Packers offense was shut out for three-quarters of the game and scored less than 20 points, so it wouldn't be wrong to assume the defense played a good game, which they did. But the Packers exposed a fluke in the way the Saints' defense operates. Head coach Dennis Allen likes to rotate defensive linemen almost every play so each guy going into the game was rested, but when the Packers ran hurry-up aoffense and didn't allow the Saints to make those adjustments, the defense started to allow chunk plays and ultimately gave up 18 points in the fourth quarter. The pass rushers were getting worn out and exhausted which slowed down the pass rush and allowed receivers enough time to break open. The Saints cornerbacks often had good tight coverage, but with the length some of the plays were taking, receivers were breaking free because of the lack of pressure coming from the pass rushers.

Down: Offense

It looked like QB Derek Carr started to finally get things rolling for the Saints' offense scoring 17 points in the first half (they scored a combined six points in the first half of the two previous games), but when Carr went down and Jameis Winston took over for the offense, they only accumulated 96 yards of offense and didn't score for the rest of the game. The offensive line had trouble pass-blocking, the running game didn't turn into much, and the offense hasn't scored more than 20 points all season.

With the offense not being able to sustain a drive, it hurts the defense as that showed in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. Running back Alvin Kamara will return and practice with the team this week which should help with a few of the offense's problems, but there has to be improvement around the offense as a whole and not just one unit. Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael has to call better plays, typically on third down, and the offensive line needs to protect the quarterback. These two issues were the biggest factor in why Carr left the game with an injury and needs to be the focal point in practice.

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