New Orleans Saints Questions Left Unanswered After Week 1

Andrew BurtonCorrespondent IIISeptember 12, 2012

New Orleans Saints Questions Left Unanswered After Week 1

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    If you were to tell me the Washington Redskins were going to beat the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, I probably would've laughed—even with all the questions that were surrounding the organization.

    However, the Redskins exposed the Saints and brought questions to the surface, and now we must take a look at what needs answering.

    For New Orleans, this means that they need to improve on both sides of the ball as soon as possible.

    For their opponents, it means that they may be able to strike before the Saints get hot.  

Can the Saints Win Without Sean Payton?

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    The first question that remains unanswered is whether or not New Orleans can win without Sean Payton as their head coach. 

    It was clear that Payton was missed this past Sunday. 

    The Saints head coach is a genius, and it was evident from New Orleans lack of offense that the team was missing Payton calling the shots from the sideline. 

    From the looks of the beating Washington put on them, I'd say no, they cannot win without their guru, hence their 0-1 start. 

Will the Defensive Line Intimidate?

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    In Sunday's game, New Orleans' defensive line appeared weak.

    The Saints allowed Robert Griffin III to make plays because they did not pressure him enough. There was no pressure being applied to the rookie quarterback from the line, and that allowed Griffin to get comfortable and control the pace of the game. 

    I can count on both hands the amount of times that the defensive line made it into Washington's backfield. 

    With New Orleans' next opponent being the Carolina Panthers, the mobile quarterback enigma won't go away just yet, and it's safe to say the same problems that the Saints had with Griffin will be repeated this week against Cam Newton. 

Will the Secondary Wake Up?

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    Everyone will have to take their game up a notch this Sunday, including the secondary.

    With Jabari Greer still recovering from surgery, and Johnny Patrick possibly sidelined, the secondary is looking weak.

    Robert Griffin III threw an 88-yard pass to Pierre Garcon late in the first quarter, and this kind of set the tone for the remainder of the game. 

    The Saints just couldn't handle the coverage. They appeared to be slow and confused, and they just didn't play like the Super Bowl champions from Super Bowl XLIV.

    Corner back Patrick Robinson needs to cut down on the mistakes, because he clearly can't win a foot race as evident by Garcon dusting him to the end zone. New Orleans can't afford this too many more times.

    Safety Roman Harper needs to impact the team a bit more as well. He's going to need to make his presence felt this Sunday if the Saints defense wants to take a stand and make a name for themselves this season.  

Will the Saints Cut Down on the Penalties?

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    Penalties are always game annoyances.

    This past game, New Orleans was flagged 12 times for a total of 107 yards, and that can't happen again if the Saints are looking to get that first win this weekend.

    Saints that were flagged included Dave Thomas (holding), Jed Collins (holding), Zach Strief (two false starts), Lance Moore (false start) and Rafael Bush (holding). 

    For a group of veteran guys, this is inexcusable.

    There's absolutely no reason to be flagged that many times.

    Not even pee-wee football leagues get penalized that much.

Can Drew Brees Handle Being the Shot-Caller?

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    Drew Brees has always been a vocal leader, but this time around is more important than ever before. 

    Without Coach Payton, the quarterback has to make sure he's heard, and brings everyone on the same page. 

    Brees had an average performance in his last game—completing 24 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns—but this isn't going to cut it if the Saints are looking to be among the best teams in the NFL.

    While Payton sits out, Brees has to express himself more. If he's not pleased with the way things are going, he must be vocal. He wears a "C" on his jersey for a reason.

    Guys will listen to Brees and try to fix whatever problems he sees, and because of that, I think Drew can handle the pressures of being in control without his head coach.

Will the Run Game Improve?

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    In the game against the Redskins, New Orleans had an appalling 10 rush attempts for just 32 yards.

    Pierre Thomas rushed for 17 yards in four tries, while Mark Ingram tried six rushes for 15 yards.

    With the dangerous weapons available to New Orleans' disposal, there's no reason for the team to not have at least 25 carries a game. Any of their three backs can have a breakout rush that could damage the opposition; therefore, you have to utilize any and every available weapon. 

    If the Saints are going to achieve anything, they need a solid run game to compliment their exemplary passing game.