The Saints loss to Carolina isn’t on Jameis, but the offensive struggles start with him

The Saints are not showing any life on offense. Like none at all. Sunday’s loss to the Baker Mayfield led Panthers was nothing but embarrassing. It’s frustrating to watch, especially when there is nothing but talent on the offense. There are a lot of factors that go into why the team can’t put together a productive offense, but it starts with Jameis Winston.

When any offense in the NFL can’t put up production, somebody has to take the fall. Most of the time it’s the quarterback. Is this one of those scenario’s where the quarterback is at fault? Well, it’s complicated. Pete Carmichael and the Saints offense is set up for the quick passes with the occasional deep shot. A game managing offense. That’s why you have Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and Alvin Kamara. Those three guys get drives started and keep the chains moving. Then you have Chris Olave and Deonte Harty for the deep shot with a quarterback who loves the deep shot. When the quarterback doesn’t align with the type of offense the offensive play caller has set in, that’s when you see teams have no identity. Right now that’s the Saints.

The offensive performance by the Saints against Carolina was terrible. There were five three-and-outs by this Saints offense and about four drives where the team shot themselves in the foot, ultimately preventing them from winning the game. You simply can’t win games when you’re playing both your opponent and yourselves.

The opening drive looked promising. Jameis had just found Michael Thomas for 17 yards putting the Saints in the red zone, but a Mark Ingram penalty set them back and killed the drive. An Alvin Kamara fumble that goes for a touchdown is obviously a drive killer. Those are two drive killers in the span of ten minutes in the first quarter. A missed field goal, and a blocked field goal would later on be added to drive killing list.

This offense can’t finish or execute off of opportunities.

Good teams can finish drives. They score touchdowns and finish the drive. Bad teams don’t execute on those opportunities. Right now the Saints are a bad football team.

The opportunities missed by the Saints aren’t all on Jameis, who I thought looked decent against Carolina. Yeah, the quarterback had two picks, but that was off a tipped ball and a Hail Mary. Winston was also bailed out a few times as well. There were missed throws in the flat, over the middle which simply need to be fixed. Yet overall, I thought Jameis was decent.

Throughout the game he did a better job of hitting Olave on the quick out routes, or the screens. Those quick passes are drive starters, and chain movers. The quarterback definitely showed improvement from week two’s loss to Tampa. He found Thomas on a slant for a pair of first downs. Winston looked decent, but when the offense can’t produce, someone has to take the blame.

So, should it be Jameis or Carmichael?

I think there’s a mix that both are to blame. This is Jameis’ 8th season in the NFL. He is who he is. The deep shots and big plays will always attract his eye which will lead to big plays but at the same time turnovers. At this point in his career he won’t change, but he can limit the mistakes and be better at going through his progressions. Carmichael’s play calling has been underwhelming. Feels like I’ve written this every week so far, but the offense was predictable. On second down the Saints would run it.

On 22 second down attempts, they ran it on 12 of them. Of the 10 passes on second down, 8 came in the second half. There are some tendencies there that probably shouldn’t be a tendencies. You shouldn’t be running the ball on second down and ten or throwing a screen on third down and ten. This type of play calling sets up third and long situations. To be specific, an average of 8.3 yards on third down against the Panthers. As we all know, the Saints are a terrible third down team so far this season.

Jameis needs to do better at getting the drives started by getting it to his drive starters. Carmichael needs to scheme those plays for Jameis. There needs to be a balance so that this offense can succeed. Get Thomas on a slant. Find Kamara on a texas route. Connect with Olave on out routes. Those small things will set up the big play for Jameis later on. This upcoming week the two parties have to find a mix of what both sides want or the future for this team is in trouble.

One lingering issue has been picking up the blitz. This is both on the line and Jameis. The Panthers sent multiple zero blitzes, and the play call was never changed. There was no audible. If Jameis see’s a zero blitz, throw the quick slant to Michael Thomas. Throw the out route to Chris Olave or Jarvis Landry. Someone has to diagnose the blitz and change the play to have success. Chage the protection scheme. Jameis has to do something or he’s setting himself up to be hit. Teams are going to be blitzing Jameis crazy because they know the back injury is preventing him from running the ball. On top of that, nobody can diagnose the blitz. Why wouldn’t the opposing team bllitz? This is a lingering issue that needs to be fixed soon.

Not all issues on the offense are in the passing game. The run game provided no help. Aside from one 27 yard run by Alvin Kamara, the team had 57 yards on 21 carries. When the run game doesn’t work that prevents the passing game from having success. Then you add in the fumble that goes back for a touchdown. So, while Jameis isn’t playing good, the loss isn’t just on him.

Defensively, they once again did their job. Only giving up 15 points, and the Panthers offense didn’t do anything special. The one touchdown came off two inexcusable missed tackles by P.J. Williams and Tyrann Mathieu. The pressure and coverage was good throughout the game, but the run defense wasn’t the best. Another 100 yard rusher. Still, the defense did what they needed to do to win the game in Carolina.

The team is in the hot seat right now. This game against the Vikings is a must win game for the Saints. If the offense can’t get things going, and they can’t show that they can put together conistent drives, then this team’s future is in big trouble.

Written by Kadin Janisch 

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