The New Orleans Saints may be one of the NFL’s most resilient teams, but Sunday’s 26-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers proved adversity can eventually become insurmountable. That’s not to say the team’s lamentable performance was remotely excusable. After two consecutive season sweeps against their divisional rival, the Saints recorded their lowest net offensive yards in Sean Payton’s tenure and were plainly outplayed in all phases.
Was their deafening 38-3 Week 1 win over the Green Bay Packers a fluke? Would last year’s 2-0 sweep stand if Christian McCaffrey had been healthy? This game unfortunately opened a Pandora’s Box worth of questions that may not all have immediate answers. It did, however, illuminate the keys to last week’s victory; a positive spin implies most blunders as fixable. That doesn’t erase the emergence of some concerning trends and entirely right the ship.
Here’s what went wrong that requires a critical look in the mirror for this team’s identity moving forward: