As teams head to training camp and the NFL season approaches, The 33rd Team asks its experts to preview every team’s outlook for the 2023 season. In this installment, Greg Jennings takes a deep dive into the New Orleans Saints.
>>READ: Saints Fantasy Football Preview
Saints Team Preview
What To Know: Offense
The storyline has to be the acquisition of QB Derek Carr. The Saints haven’t had the success they wanted to have after the retirement of Drew Brees. Maybe Carr is the answer. They are certainly hopeful that he is.
Carr can perform at a steady pace and be a slightly above-average quarterback. But is he the quarterback who can take this team over the top? That remains to be seen and determined. I believe that he can.
Can WR Michael Thomas get back to being who he was? We shall see. It’s all going to be determined by the arm and the ability of Carr to lead them into the postseason.
What To Know: Defense
They’ve got to stop the run. We know that they can get to the quarterback. Their 48 sacks were tied for fifth-most in the NFL in 2022.
But they struggled to stop the run. So there must be a few points of emphasis not only in the offseason but in training camp — staying true to assignments and being gap sound. The Saints did not do that last season. Their secondary was great. It was really their run defense that failed them all of last season.
Biggest Off-Field Storyline
It has to be the issues revolving around RB Alvin Kamara, who was suspended for three games by the league on Aug. 4. The pressing question is who will step up in his absence?
Kamara’s situation was one of the reasons why the Saints went out and acquired a veteran like Jamaal Williams. He ensures they will have a running back who’s going to be successful, put the ball in the end zone and can carry the load. Williams rushed for a league-best 17 TDs in 2022 with Detroit. How long will it take Kamara to get back to what he’s capable of doing? He’s such a vital part of their success, not only in the running game but also in the passing game.
Breakout Player Prediction
We saw TE Juwan Johnson have success last year, but Carr is a quarterback who really is an equal-opportunity guy.
Typically when you think about quarterbacks, whether they are a rookie or new to a situation, their first instinct is to find the tight end. He’s typically the biggest, easiest target to hit.
Johnson is going to be a focal point for Carr, who established a great relationship and rapport with one of the better tight ends in all of football in Darren Waller.
Moves Saints Should Make
This would be around the depth at the wide receiver position. When you look at who’s leading that unit, it’s a young guy: Chris Olave.
The Saints know what they’re going to get out of him. They don’t really know what they’re going to get out of Thomas, but they’re hopeful.
Teams always try to find pieces to ensure that their passing game is effective and that they have depth because injuries, as we all know, are a huge part of this game.
2023 Season Expectations
This is a playoff-contending team simply because they’re in the weakest division in all of football: the NFC South. Anything can happen in the NFC South.
They’re defensively solid. All you need is a quarterback who doesn’t turn the ball over, who can put you in a position to win games or be in a position where you’re fighting to win a game. In the waning moments of games throughout this season, Carr can be that guy for them.
Greg Jennings is a former NFL wide receiver who played for the Packers, Vikings and Dolphins. A two-time Pro Bowl player, Jennings was a member of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV championship team and is inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter @GregJennings.