The New Orleans Saints (1-2) suffered a back-to-back losses as they fell to the Carolina Panthers (1-2) on the road, 22-14. New Orleans’s offense was shut out in the first half as they struggled to find any rhythm. The Saints outgained the Panthers 426 yards to 293 yards. In the end it wasn’t enough as the black and gold came up short. Here are three studs and three duds of the Saints 22-14 loss to Carolina:
Stud: Chris Olave, Wide Receiver
There were a few bright spots in the Saints offense today. That was the continuing emergence of rookie wide receiver Chris Olave. Olave was the Saints leading receiver as he racked up nine receptions for 147 yards.
The former Ohio State product averaged 16.3 yards per reception and was targeted 13 times by Winston. Olave continues to show why New Orleans chose him in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Olave continues to be Winston’s favorite target, especially on down the field opportunities. Most of Olave’s yards came on a 49-yard pitch and catch by Winston.
Stud: Tre’Quan Smith, Wide Receiver
While Olave was the top pass catcher for the Saints today, Tre’Quan Smith had himself a game as well. Smith stepped in today the game as Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry suffered injuries during the game.
Trequan Smith picked up four receptions for 105 yards. He averaged 26.3 yards per reception and was targeted five times by Winston.
It is important for Smith to have showcases like this as he hasn’t quite lived up to the billing of a third round selection. The former UCF product was quite in the first two weeks of the season against Atlanta and Tampa Bay, so if he can continue this momentum going forward then it will certainly not hurt to have another reliable pass catcher.
Stud: Pete Werner, Linebacker
The Saints defense tried to keep to their offense in the game for as long as they could, but the Panthers was able to put the game away in the fourth quarter with a 67-yard touchdown to Laviska Shenault. On the day, the black and gold defense gave up 293 total yards of offense.
The leading tackler for the Saints against the Panthers was Pete Werner. Werner had 11 total tackles, six of them being solo. The Panthers offensive line was able to hold their mark against the Saints defense line as New Orleans only had three total sacks on the day.
Werner showed what he was capable of in a breakout 2021 season and had question marks coming into this season as he was banged up in the offseason. The former Ohio State produced answered those questions with his nose to the football on Sunday afternoon against the Panthers. Werner was the bright spot for the Saints defense in week three.
Dud: Alvin Kamara, Running Back
Alvin Kamara came into this game on the injury report as he was still recovering from a nagging rib injury that he suffered in week one against the Falcons. The star running back was active before game time and he was looking to find the endzone for the first time this season.
Kamara did have a nice game on the ground as he had 15 carries for 61 yards. The former Tennessee product was targeted seven times on the game, but only hauled in two receptions for 12 yards.
The main blunder for Kamara came on the Saints second offense possession of the game where the Panthers was able to recover his fumble and take it to the house to put Carolina up early, 7-0.
Saints fans shouldn’t panic about the fumble, but it is concerning that Kamara is yet to find the end zone so far in the first three weeks of the season.
Dud: Jameis Winston, Quarterback
The struggles continued for Jameis Winston and the New Orleans Saints on offense. The Saints were unable to get off to a fast start against Carolina. As a result it made it difficult for them to mount a comeback.
Winston was able to complete 25 passes for 353 yards and a touchdown on the day. The former Florida State product did have two interceptions on the day. Winston’s first interception came at the start of the four quarter. He was looking downfield to hit Chris Olave, but his pass was picked off by Derrick Brown. His second interception came on the Saints last offensive possession as Jaycee Horn was able to seal the game.
Winston was able to find an open receiver to cut the Panthers lead to eight with a four-yard touchdown to Marquez Callaway. He has shown that he is capable of mounting a comeback in the fourth quarter before. Winston has to start to play a consistent four quarters to give New Orleans their best chance. The Saints can’t afford to play from behind anymore as their offensive struggles have continued from the beginning of the season.
Dud: Saints Special Teams
The special teams unit for New Orleans left points on the board in the eight-point loss to Carolina in week three.
The Saints attempted a 30-yard field goal just seconds before the half. New Orleans was able to get an effective drive and were looking to put up points to cut into Carolina’s early 13-0 lead. The 30-yard field goal attempt by Wil Lutz was blocked by Henry Anderson as the Saints were shut out in the first half.
The second blunder for the special teams unit came in the second half. They were able to drive down the field in their first offensive possession coming out of the locker room. Lutz pushed a 48-yard field goal wide right as the Saints would stay scoreless. Missed opportunities left points on the board and left New Orleans in a hole that they couldn’t get out of.