For the second week in a row, the New Orleans Saints defense found itself overmatched. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots took control of the game and left little in doubt by halftime.
Brady had one of the best passing games for a 40-year-old in NFL history, as he outdueled his counterpart, Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The future Hall of Fame quarterback finished the day with 447 yards passing on 30 of 39 attempts with three touchdowns.
Brees, a future Hall of Famer himself, dealt with nearly constant pressure, and receivers dropping passes plagued him. He still managed to pass for 356 yards while completing 27 of 45 passes with two touchdowns.
New Orleans’ much maligned defense gave up 555 total yards to New England and was unable to get off the field on third down. The Patriots converted six of 12 third-downs but were five-for-five on third-downs early in the game with two touchdowns coming on the down as the Saints defense couldn’t force a field-goal attempt.
New England jumped out to a 20-3 advantage in the first quarter and never looked back. The Saints kept pace with the Patriots in the second quarter, as each team scored 10 points. However, New Orleans found itself down 30-13 at the break.
The only bright spot for the Saints is that the team outscored the Patriots 7-6 in the second half, but the outcome was pretty much decided at that point. New Orleans couldn’t convert on third-downs, going four for 12 in the game.
New England easily earned its first victory of the season in its 36-20 win over the Saints. New Orleans has been nothing but consistent the last few seasons, as the team earned its fourth straight 0-2 start of the season.
Part of that consistency has been a terrible defense that never seems to improve. The Saints defense had a couple of bright spots that went away. New Orleans picked off Brady twice, but penalties nullified both interceptions, one being 12 men on the field and other other a pass-interference call.
While the Saints defense has struggled for years, the New Orleans offense could once be counted on to give the team a chance. Instead of trying to keep pace in shootouts, the offense has found itself outgunned in the first two games of the season.
Injuries to the offensive line, the team trading away Brandin Cooks and the suspension of Willie Snead hasn’t helped the offense get on track. New Orleans still hasn’t been able to get the running game going, as the coaches try to juggle carries for Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara.
New Orleans has rushed for just 141 yards on 38 attempts and zero rushing touchdowns. Again, injuries to the offensive line hasn’t helped the run game, but neither has the lack of defining roles for each running back.
The Saints need to figure out who will get the bulk of the carries instead of substituting backs out on nearly every play. None of the running backs get a chance to get in a rhythm or work up a sweat with multiple carries in a row.
New Orleans needs to work on a ball-control offense that runs the ball effectively to keep its defense off the field and rested. But the Saints can’t use a ball-control offense if the game is out of reach by halftime.
It is a struggle to make the playoffs after a 0-2 start, and it is nearly impossible to reach the postseason with an 0-3 record. It doesn’t mean the Saints’ season is over just yet, but New Orleans needs a quick turn around.
The Saints will travel to Carolina this week to face the Panthers and Cam Newton. New Orleans then makes the trip to London to face the Miami Dolphins. If the Saints can win both games, the team will go into its bye week with some momentum. A 0-4 start at the bye week will mean New Orleans needs to make some major changes to turn things around.