4 Saints to blame for Lions loss that further pushes NO out of playoff picture

The New Orleans Saints continue to lose winnable games and falling out of view in the easily-winnable NFC South.

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers / Perry Knotts/GettyImages
1 of 3

Though the New Orleans Saints fell behind 21-0 minutes into the first quarter, they came back and made it a very winnable, one-possession game late. Though they did make it interesting, they could not capitalize, taking another loss and falling further behind the Falcons in the NFC South.

Despite rostering a talented team in an uncompetitive division, the Saints can't seem to help themselves. Here are four Saints, specifically, to blame for the loss to the Lions in Week 13.

Juwan Johnson

First Saints pass of the game, Derek Carr was partially to blame for missing open options downfield. That said, he made a veteran move and tried to secure a few easy yards out of a play. He hit tight end Juwan Johnson on the hands, the ball bounced off, and ended up in the hands of a Lion. Interception.

It gave the Lions easy red zone positioning to put themselves up 14-0 just minutes into the game. Johnson got two targets the rest of the game, securing none.

Pete Carmichael

Hand in hand with Johnson's struggles is Pete Carmichael's entirely curious decision to underutilize Jimmy Graham. Graham is the best receiving tight end in Saints history, back with the team after spending several seasons elsewhere after his heyday with the Saints. Though he's aged now and certainly not in the same shape he once was, Graham has three targets this year, and two of them ended as touchdowns.

Carmichael had the foresight to get Graham in the game today which earned the team one of its touchdowns, but the fact that he hasn't emerged as a regular installment in the playbook is unforgivable given the struggles with Johnson and the success every time Graham gets on the field.

Graham by no means needs to be an every-down player, but he would be a fantastic add as a situational piece. Especially considering the situations the Saints have struggled in are third downs and red zone, what are we doing here?