The Panthers are not a good football team, sadly this version of the New Orleans Saints is not either. Penalties, fumbles and generally sloppy play all led to the Saints losing 22-14 in Charlotte yesterday. Quarter by quarter lets see where it all went so badly wrong.
The Panthers started with the ball and the first play foreshadowed what was to come on some of the Panthers biggest plays on offense. A missed tackle. McCaffrey should have been bottled up for a minimal gain, instead rumbled for 14 yards. (PFF credited the Saints defense with 11 missed tackles on the day).
That was it really for this drive, Demario Davis sacked a scrambling Mayfield setting up a third and long, which the Panthers could not convert. After Mayfield and Anderson weren’t on the same page, this was also Paulson Adebo’s first snap of the season and applied solid coverage on the play.
The Saints offense took over at their own 11- yard line. Some more foreshadowing took place on the first play of this drive. The snap went wrong, it went down as a Winston fumble, he did pick it up and run for six-yards but this was just the start of the offense’s sloppy execution.
Sadly, this was one of the offenses better drives, the next play Kamara scampered for 27 yards. Winston completed two nice timing throws to Michael Thomas and the offense looked like there could be some life.
Then some of that sloppiness came back, a false start by Adam Trautman and a weak Chop Block penalty on Mark Ingram took the Saints from second and two on the Panthers 33 to third and 20 on the Saints 49. The chop block penalty was even worse because it wiped out and excellent catch by Michael Thomas that would have given the Saints a fresh set of downs in the RedZone.
Instead the Saints had to punt.
The Panthers went three and out quickly giving the Saints decent field position on their own 30. Helped even more by an unnecessary roughness penalty, giving them a fresh set of downs near midfield. Then the sadness began, Alvin Kamara was stripped, and the Panthers returned it for a TD. This was Kamara’s first fumble since 2020.
The next three Saints offensive possessions amassed a grand total of 9 plays for 8 yards. Led on one drive by two offensive dead ball fouls in a row and Winston not reading the field well.
The Panthers grinded out a ten-play 40-yard drive which was completed early in the second quarter. Putting them up 10-0. This was a fairly solid drive by the Panthers. Pete Werner, who again looked like the best player maybe outside of Marshon Lattimore on the Saints defense was everywhere this game and was really good on this drive. Justin Evans also made two good stops in four plays. One for a loss on a screen and one for no gain in the running game.
The Panthers added another field goal later in the quarter generally because of the running game. Watching it live it looked like the Saints had this bottle up for the most part, upon review that wasn’t really the case.
The misery and false hope for Saints fans continued. Jameis Winston finally hit on a deep bomb to Chris Olave, who made a great play at the catch point to reel it in. The 49-yard gain had the Saints in business on the Carolina 18. Another nice quick pass to Olave got them to nearly inside the 10. A drop by Kamara on second down and a poor pass from Winston on third. He had Kamara wide open in front of him, instead choosing to throw an incompletion to Landry that was nowhere near him. This left the Saints with a short field goal try to get on the board. Which in true Saints style was blocked.
So, the best drive of the game came up empty for the Saints, who were shut out again in the first half. Down 13-0 which at this stage felt like 30-0.
The second half started with the Saints receiving the kick-off. Again, the Saints were penalised, this time a hold during the return. The Saints had to start at their own 16. With the way the offense was playing starting from there felt like 84 miles, rather than 84 yards.
The offense did put together a nice drive though. Started by two nice runs to Kamara, Jameis completed passes to Landry, Thomas, Olave and Tre’Quan on this drive. The pass to Landry wasn’t a great throw by Winston, Landry had to go low and twist to make the catch because the pass was behind him. This caused him to injure his foot/ankle and be out the rest of the game.
Unfortunately, the drive stalled once getting to the RedZone. The Saints struggles with the Blitz continued. On second down the blitz nearly got home, which made Winston throw the ball quicker than he wanted and he looked like he had Kamara on a wheel if he had a smidge longer to let the play develop.
On Third down the Panthers had Jeremy Chinn lined up at the line of scrimmage, no disguise and he just ran untouched to Winston for a huge sack which pushed the Saints all the way back to the 30 meaning it was now a 48-yard attempt. This blitz wasn’t exotic it wasn’t disguised. Winston needed to change the play to something where he could have got the ball out quickly, not a play that was 5/7 step drop. By the time he got to the end of his drop he was sacked.
That sack was huge, the extra distance meant Will Lutz missed it, pushed it wide right. The kick would have been good from closer. Now both times the Saints offense did something it ended in a special team’s error meaning no points. Those six points lost were huge later on.
On the other side of the ball the Saints defense was keeping them afloat, turning the Panthers over on downs, with a nice pass breakup by Demario Davis on fourth down.
Two punts followed, before the Saints offense finally put together a complete drive, two catches each for Chris Olave and Tre’Quan Smith, the Saints marched down the field, 10 plays- 89 yards, capped by a 5-yard TD run by Mark Ingram. This cut the Panthers lead to six points with 12:31 left in fourth quarter.
The next two series were the dagger for New Orleans, first up the Panthers offense. Two plays 67-yards touchdown. The Saints defense finally caved under the pressure the offense had put on them. Two bad missed tackles, first by P.J. Williams, the second by Tyrann Mathieu. Laviska Shenault JR. went 67 yards for a TD on a play he should have been stopped for a minimal gain by two different Saints defenders.
Next series, Winston interception from a tipped pass. Great catch by the big man Derrick Brown though! Always have a soft spot for big guy interceptions. The interception gave the Panthers a short field which allowed them to tack on another field goal.
At this stage the 15 points score difference was too big overcome. The Saints did manage another touchdown, after two great plays on deep balls by Chris Olave and Tre’Quan Smith. Finished off by an amazing catch in the endzone by Marquez Callaway, Callaway did bail Winston out though, he should have never thrown the pass.
The Panthers managed to run out enough of the clock leaving the Saints just 17 seconds to try and score, that was made impossible after Johnny Hekker produced an excellent punt, meaning the Saints would have had to have gone 99 yards in 17 seconds with no timeouts. Winston heaved one downfield which was intercepted.
Thus, ending a very painful watch for all Saints fans and for the Saints organisation who then had to take the long flight to London ready for their game this weekend against the Vikings @ Spurs stadium.
Defense did more than enough to win this game, the offense and special teams just kept shooting themselves in the foot. The offense can’t sustain drives and when it does something seems to go wrong to mean no points.
What’s more frustrating about this offense, is they have the talent, all the WR’s today looked excellent the execution of the offense right now is just simply poor. Penalties, fumbles, uninspiring play caller (at times) and Winston not seeing the field well.
It can’t continue otherwise this is going to be a long and wasted season. Ending in the Eagles having a juicy high first round draft pick (YIKES).
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