1 WHAT WE LEARNED

We learned that this Saints team has a ways to go before being considered good. The defense is good enough to keep New Orleans in games. They create turnovers and know how to rise to the moment. That’s been the case in consecutive weeks. The offense isn’t very good right now. Someone — probably multiple someones — needs to step up and become a playmaker for this offense. Those players don’t exist right now. Maybe some of the issues were caused by an injury to Drew Brees early in the game. In the end, there were simply too many mistakes for New Orleans to overcome.

2 TRENDING NOW

Doom is probably trending right now. It’s going to be a hard feeling to shake, and it’s impossible to paint a rosy picture of what happened Sunday. The Saints lost to the team with the worst record in the NFL last season. A case could be made that New Orleans could have won by protecting the football better. That’s a correctable error. But given how the past 12 months have gone for this team, there is no benefit of doubt to be given. The Saints are going to have to prove they can win games before they are given the positive end of a projection. This team is not in a great spot right now.

3 FINAL THOUGHTS

Three starters on defense — cornerback Keenan Lewis, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and safety Jairus Byrd — are missing, and running back C.J. Spiller was in a very limited role Sunday. The troops are going to return at some point and help turn things around. The question now is if it’s going to matter. The players on the field need to keep this team afloat while those guys are on the mend. That means winning the games they are supposed to win. Sunday was one of those games. Carolina is going to be a tough out next week.

-- Nick Underhill