Three weeks might as well be an eternity in the NFL. If you're a fan of a struggling team such as the Patriots or Raiders, think about how optimistic you were before Week 1 and contrast that with how you feel right now. Things aren't even quite as bad as they are normally, given that Las Vegas is the only team to hit Week 4 without a win or a tie.

Of course, teams still can be raising anxious eyebrows with a win or two to their name. Let's leave aside the Raiders, allow the Patriots to worry about what they'll do on offense without quarterback Mac Jones and focus on four teams whose fans might rightfully be panicking after three weeks.

Three of the teams below managed to pick up a victory, although all three have only one and needed fourth-quarter comebacks to take home those W's. The fourth team below has two wins, although I've now needed to write about what a mess it is after each of its first three games.

I'll break down what's going on with four of the league's most disappointing teams on their worst side of the ball. I'll also raise the panic alarm to tell you whether you should be worried or whether their problems should get better in the weeks to come. Let's start with one of the teams in London in Week 4, as New Orleans might be facing the end of an era on offense.

 

The Saints' offense is out of sync

New Orleans is one dramatic comeback away from catastrophe. The only thing keeping the Saints from an 0-3 start in the NFC South is a 16-point fourth-quarter comeback against the rival Falcons, aided by a moment of madness in the red zone from quarterback Marcus Mariota and a terrible decision to punt by Atlanta coach Arthur Smith. Losing to the Bucs is one thing on paper, but the Saints were pushed aside by arguably the league's most injury-riddled roster before being shut out for three quarters by the Panthers in Week 3.

The Saints have scored 51 points in three games, and 38 have come in the fourth quarter. You can tell yourself they are saving their best work for the key moments of the game, but it would be more realistic to say Pete Carmichael's offense hasn't been able to do anything until teams get in prevent defenses and let them move the ball downfield. By DVOA, which adjusts for game situation, the Saints rank a lowly 26th in offensive DVOA and 28th in passing DVOA.

Jameis Winston played the best football of his career a year ago under former New Orleans coach Sean Payton before tearing his left ACL, but with Payton gone, it's worrisome to see Winston looking more like the quarterback who alternately thrilled and terrified Buccaneers fans in Tampa. He already has thrown five interceptions this season, two more than he threw across seven starts in 2021. Mike Edwards' pick-six in Week 2 was the worst of the bunch, a throw in which Winston stared down that side of the field and led the Bucs safety directly to the football.

Admittedly, one of those picks was a Hail Mary attempt on the final snap of the game, so it would be disingenuous to count that one against Winston. If we're being fair, though, some of his best passes have also been ill-advised. Marquez Callaway's touchdown catch against the Panthers is a prime example, as he threw into the end zone into a crowd with three Carolina defenders and two New Orleans receivers. It's one thing to do that on fourth-and-goal trailing by multiple scores, but he threw this on first-and-goal. Callaway made an incredible catch, but those are the sort of aggressive decisions he simply can't afford to make.

The scary element is that Winston probably has run a little hot in terms of catch rate, given that his completion percentage over expected (CPOE) is 5.2% above the expected mark, the second-best mark in football for quarterbacks with at least 10 pass attempts. NFL Next Gen Stats hasn't credited him with a single drop in three games, which will be tough to sustain as the year goes along. The Saints have an exciting set of receivers, but they haven't had a consistently effective passing game. Winston is dealing with a transverse fracture in his back, an injury that temporarily sidelined Tony Romo in the past. It's difficult to figure how that gets better without rest.

A Saints line already banged up with injuries has struggled to hold up against blitzes. The Saints' QBR against teams sending extra pressure ranks 26th, while they are 15th when teams send four or fewer, which might explain their success late in games. First-round pick Trevor Penning is on injured reserve with a torn ligament in his foot, while guard Andrus Peat suffered a concussion during the loss to Carolina. Just about everybody on the line besides center Erik McCoy has allowed a sack, and the Saints have looked amateurish with a couple of their pass-protection blunders. They look like an offense adjusting to life without a legendary coach.

The other disconcerting element is the continued struggles of Alvin Kamara, who hasn't looked the same since Drew Brees retired after the 2020 season. The running back has turned 24 carries into 102 yards, but he has generated 18 fewer yards than an average back would have been expected to gain in the same situations, per NFL Next Gen Stats. He also lost a fumble that led to a touchdown in the Panthers game, and his minus-13.4 rushing expected points added (EPA) is the third fewest in the league. He missed Week 2 because of a rib injury, which might explain some of the issues but doesn't exactly bode well for a healthy season. He also has gained just 19 yards on 11 receiving targets.