Saturday brings us one day closer to the 2021 Saints regular season campaign starting. While the team has been displaced and forced to move their home game to Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ida, they look to come out of the gate on a strong note. We’ve looked at the team’s regular season outlook previously, and there’s reason to be optimistic for New Orleans.
However, what are the areas that are concerning heading into Week 1? Our Saints News Network team got together to weigh in on this question. Here’s some thoughts.
Kyle T. Mosley
The defensive tackle, wide receiver, and tight ends positions concern me. It was the cornerback position before the acquisitions of Desmond Trufant and Bradley Roby. Six games is a long time to be without your top defensive tackle and wide receiver.
The positives are for both to be fresh before the stretch run ahead of the playoffs. But, losing Big O (David Onyemata) could be a problem early in the season. Marquez Callaway is the leader until Thomas returns. Smith is MIA until he heals – but availability has always been his Achilles’ heel. I would not be surprised if a trade or free agent signing for a veteran wide receiver would not happen within the first three games of the season. Golden Tate is inexplicably available. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone, but he could fit well with Winston.
Hopefully, Adam Trautman has healed. Without him, newly converted tight end Juwan Johnson could become what Jared Cook was supposed to be in New Orleans. Taysom Hill will be needed at tight end early and often in the season. They are the only true weapons at the position.
Two positions have concerned me greatly all offseason: cornerback and wide receiver. If Callaway plays as well as he did in training camp and Deonte Harris stays healthy, that position should be okay until Michael Thomas returns because of Sean Payton’s game-planning.
Cornerback feels like the more tenuous of the two positions. Marshon Lattimore is as good as they get, but releasing Janoris Jenkins created a huge void for this defense. Paulson Adebo has the look of a fine corner, but there will be rookie struggles. If Ken Crawley can avoid penalties, then he can be adequate because of the talented safety support around him.
I’ve expected all along to see C.J. Gardner-Johnson take on more cornerback responsibilities this year, but if Lattimore goes down with an injury, this position is in deep trouble.
The biggest concern headed into the season is WR depth/experience. Potential has always been the scariest word in sports, and this Saints receiving corps has loads of potential even without Michael Thomas. The problem is they are unproven. Deonte Harris is lightning in a bottle, but has yet to play a full healthy season in Sean Payton’s system. Marquez Callaway had a heck of a rookie season, but didn’t crack over 300 yards and failed to find the end zone in his rookie campaign.
Pair the lack of experience with a new quarterback, and it could be fireworks or a dumpster fire. I’m optimistic that this Saints group will be solid and steady through the first five weeks and even better when MT Returns, but that doesn’t mean I am not concerned.
Undoubtedly, the depth at several positions is quite a concern. Areas we don’t talk about a lot like the offensive line is one such example in addition to cornerback and wide receiver. Defensive tackle is also quite an unknown. Adding one extra contest to create a 17-game season seems like no big deal to some, but the reality is that durability is going to be an area that defines this Saints team.
They have the talent. They have the coaching. It may not be a perfect product that’s rolled out in the first week in front of a major audience on FOX, but expect this Saints team to shock a lot of people.
This content was originally published here.