Saints quarterbacks have been sacked 12 times in three games John DeShazier
The New Orleans Saints offensive line understands that 12 sacks allowed in 12 quarters, and two of three games with 77 or fewer rushing yards, cannot be woven into a positive.
While the Saints (2-1) are in a three-way tie for the NFC South Division lead with Atlanta and Tampa Bay, their opponent Sunday in the Caesars Superdome. New Orleans has been attempting to clean up inefficiency on the offensive line since the season began.
Saints quarterbacks have been sacked four times in each game; Tampa Bay has three sacks in its first three games. Quarterback Derek Carr was injured on the third sack, his final play of the game, when he landed on his right shoulder and sprained his AC joint. He left the game in the third quarter and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, though he hasn't yet been ruled out for Sunday.
"There's a handful of things we need to clean up," right tackle Ryan Ramczyk said. "Obviously, I think a sore thumb is our protection. We haven't done a good enough job of keeping the quarterback clean, and that's something that we're putting a major emphasis on this week, getting a little bit more work at it.
"So I think if we can pay attention to the small details - get up to the line quick, know our assignments 100 percent - it's just going to be about going out there and executing on game day."
The Saints will attempt to do so Sunday against a division foe which, in past seasons, grudgingly has allowed success to opposing offenses. The Buccaneer defense has the table set when it stops the run; prior to last season, when it allowed 121.1 rushing yards per game (15th in the league), Tampa Bay allowed 73.8 (first), 82.7 (first) and 91.6 (third) rushing yards per game from 2019-21.
"We've got to do a better job of creating space in the defense, setting a new line of scrimmage up front," Coach Dennis Allen said. "I think that's where it all starts, in the run game and the passing game.
"Most teams around this league have a lot of success when they're able to control the line of scrimmage and I think that's an area that we've got to continue to work to improve on. We've been hard at work trying to make corrections and get better there."
The Saints have sought ways to provide assistance, but the success hasn't yet manifested in games.
"I've got to do a better job, and they've got to play better," offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael said. "And I think they will.
"We've done some things to try to get some help on the edges and stuff like that, but I think we've got to continue to find ways to how maybe we're sliding the line or things like that to give them some help inside."
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Ramczyk said that two of Green Bay's four sacks were his responsibility where he simply didn't win the matchup, rather than a cohesion issue.
"I know I had two last week that was physical," he said. "I didn't get my job done and I've got to be better than that. I think throughout the year there's just been times where we kind of get out of position and we'll lose. So it's working on the fundamentals, and getting back to the basics and falling on what you know, and then going out there and playing fast."
Too, Carr said his cause could have been helped by not holding on to the ball. On the play where he was injured, that's what happened.
"It goes hand in hand," Carr said. "On that play, I pump faked, I held it a little long, too. I could have checked it down below the sticks. But on that down and distance (third-and-9 from the 50), I was trying to wait for something and if I get hit in that situation, that's on me. But there's things that we can all do better.
"One thing I know is we're going to work to correct it, because we have the right kind of people. Does that mean it's going to be an immediate fix? I don't know. I hope so. I think they hope so, too. But it's just an area for us right now that we're trying to improve on, and hopefully we'll do it for this game."