Saints leave Green Bay with more questions, stinging defeat

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It would be easy to write off the New Orleans Saints’ 18-17 loss at Green Bay as one that wouldn’t have happened if quarterback Derek Carr had not departed in the second half with an injury to his throwing shoulder.

However, that would be ignoring a simple fact. Until the Saints get their offensive line issues, fixed, or at least under control, Carr and any other New Orleans quarterback will continue to be under duress. The Saints offensive line, littered with high draft picks, is allowing four sacks a game.

Even Carr, who has a nine year NFL history of durability (playing at least 15 games every season), cannot withstand the withering pressure he is constantly facing. With Carr out, the Saints offense went from functional to abysmal at Green Bay. New Orleans had three first downs in the final 23 minutes, 52 seconds.

Even with your starter out, you have to be able to function. The Saints still had Chris Olave, who is quickly becoming one of the best receivers in the NFL. Rashid Shaheed is a player who can score anytime he catches (or returns) the ball.

Now, where is Juwan Johnson? One of the best pass catching tight ends in the NFC, has only five receptions this season for 49 yards.

As for the Saints defense, there are no excuses. Yes, you didn’t have safety Marcus Maye (suspended) and cornerback Paulson Adebo (injured). Still, the Packers played without their best runner Aaron Jones, their best receiver Christian Watson and two starters on the left side of their offensive.

Yet, Green Bay still got it done.

Then there’s the kicker. Blake Grupe, in his first pressure field goal attempt, was wide right from 46 yards with 1:10 to play. That kick essentially decided the game.

The rookie may turn out to be an outstanding kicker, but in a year when your margin of error as a team is slim and every game seems to come down to the wire, experience matters.

So, I ask the same question I asked earlier this month, when the Saints traded their former kicker to Denver. In that situation (not in training camp or in the preseason) under pressure, who do you want kicking, Grupe or Wil Lutz?

The Saints will stick with Grupe, and they should. One game does not a career make.

In 1991, Georgia rookie John Kasay missed a late field goal attempt in his first NFL game. A make in that situation would have iced the game for Seattle in the Superdome against the Saints.

Kasay went on to the kick in the NFL for 21 seasons.

Besides, who’s to say the gassed Saints defense would have kept the Packers from scoring again?

So, instead of being 3-0 and with a more than 80 percent chance of making the playoffs, the Saints have to rebound. A compelling New Orleans season now has another storyline.

Can the Saints bounce back after blowing a 17-point lead?

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Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

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Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

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