This week’s opponent is a familiar foe in the Carolina Panthers. Many experts before the season said the Panthers would be down as they brought in a new head coach and drafted their franchise quarterback but they have been in every game to the end. While there record at 1-3 might not indicate improvements, they have the cornerstones to be a good team in the future . I think this will be a good test for the Saints as they should win but they need to not play down to their competition.
The last remaining player on their inaugural season, John Kasay was released this past offseason leaving a void at kicker for the Panthers. They went out and signed former Saint Olindo Mare to replace Kasey. It’s still early to see if that signing will pan out for the Panthers. One area of concern for the Panthers has to be the punting game as they have had two punts returned for touchdowns this season. The good thing in the Saints favor is the Panthers’ return game is not all that good as they don’t really have a guy who can take it back for touchdowns.
How to take advantage?
First off ,Mr. Sproles do not fair catch, I repeat do not fair catch in this ball game. Darren should have some big returns in this game helping out the offense with some good field position. While I do think the Saints have a big advantage in all three phases of the game Sunday ,wouldn’t it be cool to see the Saints down by two with four seconds left and Kasay lined up to kick a thirty yard field goal to win the game for the Saints? I’m not saying that it will end like that but it would be nice to see Kasay have a good game against his former team.
The Panther defense was always good year in and year out under former Coach John Fox, so it seemed odd to go out and hire a defensive minded coach in Ron Rivera. It would have made more sense to hire a offensive coach and keep Fox but I guess that is why I am writing this article and not making the decisions for the Panthers. The front seven for the Panthers was said to be the strength of the defense but injures have weakened it somewhat. Linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis have gone down with season ending injures leaving a void in stopping the run. I will say the Panthers have two good rush ends in Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson so hopefully Charles Brown will be on top of his game this week and not give up any sacks. The secondary has done a good job this season considering it seems like they are in a shootout week in and week out . They are sixth in the league giving up 203 yards a game , I do think after this game that average might go up a little bit maybe around the 275 or 300 range.
How to take advantage?
I read an article this week , I can’t really remember where it was but it talked about how the Saints should run the ball this week because the Panthers were atrocious at stopping the run . Oh yeah, my good buddy Andrew wrote that article this week for the site . He hit it out of the park as usual, just driving his point the Saints have to get the ground game cranking this week as it will help you down the road. The Saints should win this game and in the process should be a better as they are becoming a more balanced team.
Ok so Newtonmania has taken over the NFL the past four weeks. Cam Newton, a rookie, was the talk of the town after his first game threw for over 400 yards, who out there ever thought that would happen ? Cam in his first four weeks has found a go to receiver in Steve Smith. Most experts thought Steve was finished as deep threat in the league but now he has a quarterback that can get him the ball deep. Over the years ,Steve has torched the Saints but if you think about it those years really the Saints didn’t have anyone to cover him like the Saints can now. The Panthers have a solid combo in the backfield as DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are a solid one-two punch as there is in the NFL. I will say the one problem for the Saints defense is the inability to stop the opposing teams tight end and the Panthers have a good one in Greg Olsen. It will be a key Sunday slowing down Olsen because you know the rookie will be looking his way early and often trying to get the offense going.
How to take advantage?
I would say to blitz coming off the plane but Cam Newton is a running threat ,so I would try to mix it up by disguising the coverage and keeping him in the pocket. This game has the feel of a shootout if the defense doesn’t play up to par but I also think rattling the rookie and getting some turnovers could make this game a blowout in the Saints favor. Hopefully the progress the defense has been making the last couple of weeks will continue as they need to play better if they have any shot at making another championship run.