Luke Hubbard of Canal Street Chronicles, Acme Packing Company’s sister site covering the New Orleans Saints, was gracious enough to spend some time with us this week to answer a few questions about the team he roots for. Coming into this game, the story of the 2-0 Saints is their strong defense, but there are some worries about how suspensions and injuries might impact the team overall.
If you want an even deeper look at the Saints this week, check out this week’s episode of Intercepted, where Saints fan and Pro Football Focus analyst Seth Galina touches on all aspects of the team in our audio preview of the game.
Question #1: With Alvin Kamara suspended and Jamaal Williams to miss the game with a hamstring injury, what is the Saints’ backfield going to look like on Sunday? Do you think former Packer Taysom Hill will get some reps back there?
Taysom Hill should get a good workload on Sunday, but I don’t think it’ll be a major workload. I’d say he’ll get anywhere from 5-7 carries with Kendre Miller and Tony Jones Jr. getting most of the work in the backfield. I’m excited to see what Miller does in his first NFL game, but since he’s coming off two injuries this offseason, I expect Tony Jones will receive most of the work in the backfield.
Question #2: Green Bay fans are asking why they can’t get anything out of their first-round picks on the defensive side of the ball right now. The Saints seem to be dealing with a similar issue on the offensive line. Can you explain some of the frustrations there?
Yeah, it’s definitely been a little frustrating. For the first few years of his career, Cesar Ruiz was just not a good guard, but he finally broke out and gave us a good season last year. So far this season, he’s back on track to being a below-average guard, but I still have hope he can right the ship after receiving a big deal this offseason.
For Trevor Penning, he had a super disappointing opener, but he’s been steadily improving since. This might as well be his rookie season because he missed so much time last year, so he’s going to be a work-in-progress all year. The frustrating part about how the Saints draft is they always seem to draft project players. That can work if they’re in a situation where they don’t have to start right away, but for Penning, he’s been thrown into the fire with very little experience and he’s definitely taking some time to adjust.
Question #3: What’s the vibe check two games into the Derek Carr era in New Orleans?
We’re in a ‘feeling good, not great’ sort of vibe so far. Carr is a good NFL quarterback and there’s no denying that, but some of the problems he had with the Raiders are still there. He’s never been a great red zone QB and so far this year, the Saints are scoring touchdowns on just 37.5% of their red zone drives. He’s also thrown two picks in two games which is another problem he had with the Raiders.
He’s in a new system with a bunch of new faces and an offensive line that hasn’t done him any favors, so I’m going to give him a few more games to figure stuff out. The one major thing he’s done so far that has made Saints fans very happy is his ability to make the big throw when it matters most. We’ve seen him hit Rashid Shaheed on a deep ball to ice the game in both weeks so far, so as long as he isn’t making mistakes late in the game, he’s a total upgrade in my book.
Question #4: How are the Saints expecting to replace Marcus Maye, following his suspension?
Get ready to hear this name a lot on Sunday. Jordan Howden. Our rookie safety from Minnesota has performed well all offseason and based on reports, the Saints coaching staff feels very comfortable with where he’s at right now. I think part of the reason we drafted him is because we knew this suspension was coming and we’re preparing for life after Marcus Maye. Obviously, he’s still a rookie and will probably make a couple of mistakes, but from what we’ve seen and heard from him in the offseason, I’m looking forward to watching him play on Sunday.
I honestly don’t know what to expect in this game. If our defense can continue to ball out, I think the Saints have a real shot at winning this game, but the offensive consistency needs to be there this week. Jordan Love has shown he’s an above-average QB through two weeks, so I expect he’ll give us some more problems than Tannehill and Young did. If Carr and the offense can get off to a good start early unlike the last two weeks, I think we can win this game, but if not then I think the Packers will take it in a close one.