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4 Takeaways: Highs and lows of Saints' season-opening win over Titans

WWL-TV sports director Doug Mouton shares his four takeaways from the Saints season-opening win over the Titans.

NEW ORLEANS — After an unsuccessful first season as the Saints head coach, a season in which quarterback play could be directly linked to losses, Dennis Allen went out and courted and signed his guy – Derek Carr, the guy he had drafted a decade ago. 

And in Game 1 of that reunion, in crunch time, Carr delivered.

And the coach and the quarterback celebrated.

So, let's start our four takeaways from the season-opening win.

#4: Reliable Carr

Derek Carr delivered a very Derek Carr-like performance, but with an upside.

His passer rating for the game was a solid 96.1, and through Sunday's games that was 10th best in the NFL. Not elite, but solid.

Here's the reason for optimism. In the first half, Carr's passer rating was a 65, which included a bad interception before halftime.

In the second half though, he was a spectacular – 145.9.

When he relaxed and settled in, even against a really good defensive front, Derek Carr delivered.

#3 Achilles heel(s)

The genuinely problematic area, the offensive line, was just not good overall.

Arden Key schooled Trevor Penning everyone saw that.

The Titans sacked Carr four times.

But it wasn't just Penning, the Saints could not run the ball all game.

They tried a lot – 27 rushes for 69 yards.

That's 2.6 yards a carry which is terrible. No team in the NFL was this bad over the course of last season.

But again, a couple bright spots. Those four sacks all happened in the first half – zero in the second half.

And on that final, critical 3rd and 4 in the final two minutes, Jamaal Williams ran for 11 yards to end the game.

The Saints didn't run it well until the game was on the line and then they did.

Still the O-line has to play much better for the Saints to consistently win.

#2 Be a Grupe

Dennis Allen took a big chance by keeping a rookie kicker and trading away Wil Lutz.

In his first NFL game, the rookie delivered.

Blake Grupe got four chances, three field goals and an extra point, he was 4-for-4. And the Saints won by one point (16-15)

The Denver Broncos, by the way, lost by one point Sunday.

Wil Lutz missed a field goal and an extra point.

One week in, that gutsy decision paid off.

#1 Secondary to none

We knew the secondary would be a strength of the Saints team, but the DB play was elite Sunday.

Here's the simplest illustration of that. Ryan Tannehill has now started 144 NFL games and his career passer rating is 91.4 – and he's been *better* than that as a Titan.

In four seasons in Tennessee, his passer rating was 100.5.

Sunday, it was 28.8.

That number represents the worst single game performance of Tannehill's 11-year NFL career.

The Saints' pass rush was excellent, too.

Three sacks and 11 quarterback hits, Tannehill took more hits than Derek Carr.

Carl Granderson had a great game with one-and-a half of those sacks and four of those quarterback hits.

All that helped the Saints' secondary and this is the most significant development in Sunday's game.

We saw it for a month in training camp and we saw it in Week 1.

They won't be perfect, but an elite secondary will keep the Saints in a lot of games, and that's my four takeaways from the season-opening win over the Titans.

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