The New Orleans Saints defense has two strikes against them, but they have a real opportunity to bounce back against the Carolina Panthers this weekend.
The Panthers are 2-0 but have had offensive struggles almost equivalent to what the Saints defense has faced this season. With a spotty offensive line, a rusty QB, and a shaky injury report, this could be a week where the Saints’ defense could turn things around.
The Big Fellas
The Panthers offense didn’t find the end zone once last weekend after a measly 9-3 win over the Bills. The Panthers struggled as a whole, but it all started up front. The Bills recorded 6 sacks against the Panthers O-Line. The Bills got to Newton so much, in fact, he had to exit the game after an awkward sack. Newton later returned to the game in the 4th Quarter.
Cam Jordan, Sheldon Rankins, and Alex Okafor should be licking their chops heading into this one. Hopefully, they looked at the Bills gameplan from last week on how to get after Newton and can replicate that success.
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Cam Newton so far this year has not performed to his MVP level. He has been ridiculously rusty as he has overthrown about every important open pass. While he may be healthy after his surgery, he sure hasn’t found his touch. Against the Bills, he overthrew McCaffrey at the goal line on a late drive that would have sealed the game. He also overthrew a wide-open Ed Dickson that would have made for a 45-yard touchdown and then Kelvin Benjamin on the ensuing play.
Newton is certainly rusty and the young Saints defense needs to look at this game as a chance to get their first takeaway of the season.
Offense without Olsen
Lastly, playing in our favor is that Greg Olsen, one of the Panther’s best targets, will be out this week. While the Saints have injury woes themselves with Marshon Lattimore and Sterling Moore out, Olsen is one of Newton’s favorite targets. So hopefully, this will at least help decrease the coverage load a little bit.
With limited options outside McCaffrey and Benjamin, good safety play could be the key to this game. Which also has been something the Saints have needed all season.
It’s time to show up…
Since 2007 only about 10% of teams that started 0-2 have made the playoffs. Think that’s bad? Since the NFL expanded in 1990 only three teams have ever started 0-3 and made the playoffs.
It is safe to say that if we lose against the Panthers, there will not be much hope for the rest of the season. Our backs are against the wall. We may be injured and tempted to make excuses, but guess what, they are too.
This is a talented Saints team, but we are running out of second chances. We either put it together this weekend, or history shows that it is going to be a long year.