Dennis Allen won’t blame Saints’ red zone problems on Derek Carr

This isn’t a good look for Dennis Allen. The New Orleans Saints head coach was asked Wednesday about the team’s red zone struggles, and how much blame his handpicked quarterback Derek Carr deserves for them.

“We’re not really in the business of blame game. We’re in the business of production,” Allen told NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill. When asked what Carr can do to improve in that phase, Allen responded, “To try to single him out is not the right way to go.”

But Carr is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league this season when the offense gets inside the opposing 20-yard line. 18 quarterbacks have attempted 40 or more passes in the red zone this season, and out of that group Carr ranks 17th in completion percentage (44.7%) and 18th in touchdown passes (8). He’s struggling where other players are thriving.

Even players on his own team: Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill are a combined 5-of-6 in the red zone with 3 touchdown passes. Obviously that’s a dramatically smaller sample size (and teams guard those quarterbacks differently from Carr), but it highlights his unique struggles. It’s not something Allen should be deflecting from. His handpicked quarterback is underperforming. There may be other factors at play like Pete Carmichael’s play calling and dropped passes by his receivers, but Carr is the common denominator. He’s paid more than anyone else on the team because he’s responsible for more of their failures or success than anyone else.

And what’s concerning is Allen’s willingness to call out other players this season — like Chris Olave. The second-year wide receiver was blamed by Allen for incorrectly running his route on an incomplete pass back in Week 7, saying that, “Chris didn’t run that route the way that it needs to be run. That’s what happened and we ended up having a throw-away there.”

Except that’s not what happened. Michael Thomas pointed out publicly online that Olave wasn’t part of the progression on the play, which was designed for him to clear out space for Taysom Hill. When the throw to Hill wasn’t there, Carr should have switched to Rashid Shaheed or Thomas himself, who were next in the progression. Carr threw the ball away instead and went after his teammate after the play, and Allen endorsed him for it.

It’s easy to understand why Allen is giving Carr special treatment: his future with the team is tied to Carr’s performance, and he badly needs the quarterback to thrive after convincing the front office to overpay Carr so steeply. A failure for Carr is a direct reflection on Allen. Carr is here because Allen believed he was an upgrade over Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton and the other quarterbacks the Saints have tried to lean on in life after Drew Brees, but at this point there isn’t an appreciable difference between Carr’s execution of the offense and what we’ve seen from guys like Trevor Siemian — except that Allen is making excuses for him every week.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire