The Carolina Panthers offense got a win against the New York Jets, and in general, Sam Darnold looked like a new man. Now that we can put the revenge game talk behind us, we can start to get into the meat of the season. What can we expect this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints?
The Sam Darnold revenge game has come and gone, and overall we are left with positives about our new quarterback. He made some excellent throws downfield, the deep bomb to Robby Anderson was awe inspiring and the sideline back shoulder to D.J. Moore was perfect by both players. In general, Darnold showed a willingness to hang in the pocket and take a hit if he needed to to get the ball out, a definite improvement over last season. That said, he missed on a couple would be touchdowns and the Panthers offense sputtered in the red zone.
The focus since the game has been on the Panthers offensive line, and for good reason. The unit did not impress in their debut which was kind of expected. Matt Rhule called them out afterwards, and we’ll see if they get worked harder this week in practice. John Miller should be back at right guard, and that ought to bring some stability and familiarity to the right side of the line, with the three players that made up our strongest side last season reunited. I can’t stress enough how much cohesion and time playing together mean to an offensive line. I spoke in the Hog Molly Report about how Pat Elflein and Cam Erving had their ups and downs. I can point to great reps and terrible reps from both. They’ll need to gain more consistency this week.
If the Saints were at full strength, this would be a major advantage in their favor against our offensive line. That said, COVID is running rampant through their personnel, and we’ll see who ultimately gets to take the field. There are also injuries to consider, with DE Marcus Davenport expected to miss the game with a pectoral injury. On the back end, Marshon Lattimore is also expected to be out following surgery on his thumb, which might allow for quicker passes and more open targets considering the Panthers strength at receiver and running back.
If the players we expect to play DO play, it is very much advantage Saints. It is hard to trust our offensive line at the moment, and we’ll likely be expecting receivers and Christian McCaffrey to create on short passes. Not a bad strategy, but also not the ideal one. The game is winnable, but it is going to take a strong defensive effort to bolster what I hope can be an average offensive one.
What do you think Panthers fans? Sound off in the comments!