Throughout the 2012 NFL season, Athlon Sports will tackle the hot issues on and off the gridiron with our our editors and other pigksin experts.
Q: New York Giants, Green Bay Packers or New Orleans Saints: Which 0-1 Team is in the Most Trouble?
Rob Doster (@AthlonDoster):
It's definitely the Saints. I don’t care how great Robert Griffin III is: When you surrender 40 points and 464 yards at home to a team with a rookie quarterback at the helm and a rookie feature back (sixth-round pick Alfred Morris, who rushed for 96 yards), you have defensive issues that extend far beyond a little bounty-induced personnel depletion. Throw in a punchless running game (32 yards), an alarming carelessness with the football (three turnovers) and an All-Pro quarterback who completed 46 percent of his passes, and you have Week 1’s most disappointing team. Time to panic, New Orleans fans.
Gene Higginbotham, whodatdish.com:
I feel that out of all three, the Saints could be the most in trouble. The Giants are the defending Super Bowl champs, but they have shown that they can come together at the end of the season and win when they need to. The Packers almost had my vote because of their loss at home in Lambeau Field, but the San Francisco 49ers are a high quality opponent especially on defense. The Saints however not only lost at home in one of the loudest "Dome-field advantage" venues, but to the Washington Redskins who have a brand new rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III and aren't known over the past few seasons to be a huge threat. It seemed that the Saints came in with a slight bit of overconfidence with the "Us Against the World" mentality. Another issue facing them is the "Do Your Job" that suspended head coach Sean Payton left them with. It was stated by the coaching staff after Sunday's loss that too many players were focused on too many things other than "their job." Instead of trying to create the magic fueled from adversity, they just simply need to let it happen and let this season it be special on its own like the 2009-10 season. If not, they could be headed for bigger trouble down the road.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
Luckily for all three teams (Giants, Saints and Packers), there is plenty of time to turn things around and still make the postseason. However, even though it's only one game, each team has a reason to be concerned going into Week 2. I think the Saints are in the most trouble, especially after the defense was torched for 464 yards against the Redskins. Robert Griffin will be a great quarterback in the NFL, but it's troubling New Orleans' veteran defense couldn't generate much of a pass rush and struggled to get stops on Sunday afternoon. The Saints can score a lot of points, but the defense has to be better, especially in a division that features Matt Ryan and Cam Newton at quarterback. Without Sean Payton on the sidelines, the Saints figured to have a tough time making the playoffs. However, if Sunday's performance is repeated in Week 2, New Orleans could have trouble just reaching eight wins.
Mark Ross, Athlon Sports:
Let's face it, the openers didn't go as planned for any of these teams as each one tasted defeat on their respective home turfs. The defending Super Bowl champion Giants started their title defense by losing a NFC East division game to the despised Cowboys. The Saints made Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III look like a Hall of Famer in his first career start, while the Packers got beat up and beat down by the 49ers. While there are certainly reasons to be alarmed if you root for one of these teams, I am keeping a close eye on the Packers as they head into this Thursday's home date with Chicago.
The Packers couldn't run the ball at all against the 49ers and I'm not expecting much different results against the Bears' defense. San Francisco also had little trouble going up and down the field against the Green Bay defense. This could be a problem on Thursday since in my estimation, the Bears have a more potent offense than the 49ers, especially when you take into consideration the additions of wide receiver Brandon Marshall and running back Michael Bush. The Packers' secondary was already a question mark going into the season and you know that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, Marshall and his fellow wideouts are more than willing to test it out again this Thursday. Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers has had plenty of success in his career against the Monsters of the Midway, but this time around it appears the Bears have enough firepower of their own to not only keep up with Pack Attack, but possibly even out-score it. The NFC North already figured to be a dogfight with the Packers, Bears and Detroit Lions battling it out, so the last thiing the defending division champs want to do is put themselves in a 0-2 hole this early in the season.
Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports:
The Saints are in jeopardy of becoming the Aints this season. After one of the worst offseasons in NFL history, New Orleans opened the season by losing to the Redskins in the NFL debut of Robert Griffin III. Now, Drew Brees and Co. are 0–1 headed to Carolina to take on Cam Newton in an NFC South division showdown. With a skeleton crew coaching staff, ongoing off-field distractions and a legal battle with Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Saints can't afford to get off to a slow start.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
It has to be the Saints, who had very little go right in a 40-32 home loss to the Redskins in Week 1. The Packers lost to another elite team in the 49ers, while the Giants have shown a recent penchant for starting slow and turning it on late. I did not believe the New Orleans’ coaching changes were going to be such a huge factor, but the performance against Washington said otherwise. The Saints defense is still trying to become comfortable in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme, while the offense made way too many mistakes and has no running game. Even All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees was 24-for-52 passing (46.2 percent) versus the Redskins, after a 2011 season where he was never below 59 percent in any game. The NFC South is a strong division, especially with an improved Buccaneers squad, so the schedule will be difficult all year. Brees has the ability to mask over some team deficiencies, but the Saints will need to show marked improvement to get back to the postseason.
Joe Tufaro, gmenhq.com:
While I don't think that any 0-1 team is in all that much trouble, the Saints probably have the biggest question marks. With all that has surrounded that team in the off-season, they needed to make the statement Sunday that they were prepared to put it all behind them and move on. The fact that they looked poor on both offense and defense for much of the game, at home, has to be a concern. Facing the Panthers now, who are also 0-1, will be a major test for this defense.
The Packers defense did not look like the improved product it was supposed to be, and of course they need to right the ship quickly due to their Thursday night affair against division rival Chicago. The Bears have a new big offense, and the Pack must find a way to either stop it or offset it in a hurry.
The Giants played an odd game last Wednesday, in that a lot of their mistakes were uncharacteristic for them, and they still had a chance to either win or at least tie the game in the last minutes. The Giants are not the dominant team at home that the Saints and Packers are, so losing a game at home is not as much of a concern. The Giants only become a team in trouble if they somehow lose to Tampa Bay and then have to face what could be an 0-2 Carolina team on short rest on the road.
So, while the 0-1 start didn't knock any of the 16 teams that started that way out of the playoffs, the match-ups in Week 2 are of major concern to some of those teams.
— Published on Sept. 12, 2012