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Panthers @ Saints: Blogger Q&A

Dave Cariello with Canal Street Chronicles is our featured guest blogger this week for Blogger Q&A. I sent Dave five questions and his answers are below.

Question 1: Do you agree with the decision to play QB Drew Brees with a brace on his knee this Sunday? The Saints should be able to win without him against the 0-3 Panthers.

Dave: Someone else mentioned that earlier this week and I almost sharted in my pants from disbelief. First of all, I'm not so sure that I would trust backup quarterback Chase Daniel in a real football game. But besides that, I don't care what Carolina's record may currently be, they always play the Saints tough and you never know what can happen in an NFL game. Pulling Drew would be playing with fire. 

Drew's got a sprained MCL but he should be fine. I'm sure they wouldn't play him if it was really serious or the possibility existed that he might make it worse but I'm sure the offensive line is going to get an extra pep talk this week to make sure nobody touches Brees. Thank god the Panthers don't have Julius Peppers anymore. I will admit that I am starting to get a little worried about the Madden Curse. Hopefully, this is the worst of it.  

It would be a good week to finally get a pass rush...

Question 2: I'll trade you WR Lance Moore for RB  Mike Goodson straight up. Would you take that since Goodson could fill Bush's role?

Dave: If you had asked me this question one week ago, I probably would have accepted your offer. Until his unbelievable come back performance last Sunday against the Falcons, Moore hadn't really been the same player we saw in 2008 when comparisons were being made to Wes Welker. Because the Saints are so deep at wide receiver, many fans want to use him as trade bait. 
But I'm expecting to see Moore from Lance this year and in the future as he and Brees find that chemistry they once had. Besides, Reggie will be back soon enough and I'm confident the offense can manage in his absence, as they've done before. 

Man, I thought that was a no-brainer!...more after the jump...

Question: 3:.  With the signing of K John Carney have we seen the last of Garrett Hartley? Who's going to kick all those point-afters this weekend? 

Dave: No, I definitely don't think we've seen the last of Hartley. I think the Saints would have cut him already if that were the case. The Carney signing was really just to light a fire under Hartley's butt and give him some time to get his head on straight. They were both on the team together last year for a period and Carney was then hired as a kicking mentor, so they are very familiar with each other. 

The team hasn't said anything (and probably won't) but ESPN is reporting that Carney will be handling kicking duties this Sunday against the Panthers.

It's the battle of the graybeards at kicker this weekend!

Question 4: Sum up the loss to the Falcons...what aspect of the Saints performance must improve if the Saints are to handle the Panthers as they should?

Dave: Do I really have to think about it? Just kidding. The Saints didn't play there best football against the Falcons and still had a chance to win. That's the good news. The bad news is that they blew that chance and shouldn't have been in that position to begin with had they played at the level we know they can. They lost the turnover battle, didn't have an answer for Tony Gonzalez, couldn't stop the run and, of course, didn't execute in the clutch. 

What I think all of Who Dat Nation wants to see against the Panthers is the defense to shut down Carolina's two-headed rushing attack. Hopefully they won't have to worry about Jimmy Clausen too much and will be able to focus more on stopping the ground attack. No doubt Saints fans also want to see the offense start rolling and start putting up lots of points like they did last season. It would be quite the pleasant surprise if they could do that by running the ball efficiently, something they haven't been able to do very well thus far.  

Everybody still thinks we can run the ball...if only.

Question 5. I'm always curious about former GT players (Alum '88). How has DE/DT Tony Hargrove been for you this season? 

Dave: Hargrove is a personal favorite of mine and a big fan favorite in New Orleans. He's got a lot of heart and a lot of hustle. Last season he was always coming up with key plays like sacks and fumble recoveries at clutch times. The media loves him because of his Cinderalla story of overcoming drug addiction and returning to the NFL. 

This season has started off a little slow for him but that seems to be across the entire defense. He doesn't play every down in Gregg Williams' system but he's definitely in the regular rotation. He's played defensive end when they go into a 3-4 and plays inside sometimes in the 4-3. He's versatile, which is why I'm sure Williams likes him.  And that non-stop motor is just lovely. 

I love the notion of switching between a 4-3 and a 3-4 mid-game...anything to keep the defense guessing.

Got a score prediction?

I think the Saints are going to let out some frustration on Sunday. I'm going to say 45-21, Saints win a blowout.

Hmmm...if the Panthers win I say 31-28...that's a big IF.