NFL

The New Orleans Saints slump to defeat against Carolina Panthers

On the back of a depleted coaching staff and a growing injury list head coach Sean Payton made no excuses.

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The New Orleans Saints slump to defeat against Carolina Panthers
Mike Comer AFP

In a game to forget for the Saints, they managed to set a new low in yardage on the way to an embarrassing defeat.

No Excuses

The New Orleans Saints' turned in an abysmal performance on Sunday as they lost 26-7 to the Carolina Panthers. On their way to defeat they manged to set a new low for yardage, while quarterback Jameis Winston posted the worst passer rating of his career to date, even throwing his first two interceptions for the season. Yet head coach Sean Payton and his players refused to blame the fact that they are without eight assistant coaches - due to covid-19 protocols - and 9 starters through injuries and suspensions, for their losing effort.

Payton and his players own up

"Offensively, in particular, that's as poor as we've been in a long time around here, and that starts with me," Payton stated. "We've gotta do a better job going in. Our protection plan wasn't good enough. But it had nothing to do with us being short-handed with coaches or us being away or the COVID. All of those would be excuses. They played better than us today and deserved to win the football game."

Running back Alvin Kamara echoed his coach's sentiments having seen his team limited to 128 yards in total. A shocking statistic considering that just one week ago overran the Green Bay Packers 38-3 in the season opener. "It wasn't about anybody not being here. I think it was our responsibility to still come out and play without coaches being there," Kamara said after being held to 5 rushing yards on eight carries."There's no handicap. We don't get an extra second on the play clock because we don't have coaches; we don't get an extra down because there's no coaches. It is what it is. There's still a game to play. The whole coaching staff could've been gone, they wasn't gonna cancel the game. You gotta keep going. You've got some adversity and you've gotta find a way to react and respond. It's on us. It's our responsibility to do better."

Infected Coaches, injured players and a hurricane

At present the Saints are without eight assistants prior to them testing positive for COVID-19 throughout the week: receivers coach Curtis Johnson, tight ends coach Dan Roushar, running backs coach Joel Thomas, defensive line coaches Ryan Nielsen and Brian Young, offensive analyst Jim Chaney, offensive assistant Declan Doyle and special teams assistant Phil Galiano.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Saints have also seen five starters sidelined due to injuries in the last week: center Erik McCoy, corner back Marshon Lattimore, safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, defensive end Marcus Davenport and linebacker Kwon Alexander).

As for the icing on the cake, the Saints are actually currently without a home stadium and have been training in Dallas for the last three weeks due to power outages in New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Ida.

Where did things go wrong?

Speaking on the loss itself, Payton along with his players was quick to point to a lack of communication and lack of an effective plan for Carolina's constant blitzing. "We didn't handle the communication well enough, we didn't handle the pressures well enough, and we didn't coach it well enough," Payton said. "We had seen it on tape, and obviously we got more of it and didn't handle it well. "So we clearly didn't work on it well enough and effectively enough, and it kind of bit us in the butt today."

Quarterback Winston also blamed himself for not communicating well enough with the line. "Still gotta make good decisions," stated Winston, who completed just 11 of 22 passes for 111 yards. "They came at inopportune times. I don't want to have us in that position in the first place, but still have to take care of the football."

Moving forward

In week 3 the Saints will travel to New England where they will face the Patriots before finally returning home to New Orleans to practice and host the New York Giants in Week 4.

"Just keep fighting," Winston said postgame. "We have to put this one behind us. We will get better. We will pick up our tempo. I will get better from a communication standpoint and get more efficient on first and second downs."