New Orleans Saints Versus the Carolina Panthers Recap for Week 2
A football team can run with the “Last Man Up” mantra for so long. For the New Orleans Saints, it was their battle cry dating back to the start of training camp. The team endured numerous stumbling blocks ranging from off-the-field incidents, player suspensions, and injuries to its core personnel.
In the first week of the 2021 regular season against the Green Bay Packers, the Saints were not expected by many to put up a fight against the league’s reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. The result was not something that everyone was expecting as the Saints routed Green Bay 38-3. In the victory over the Packers, quarterback Jameis Winston threw five touchdown passes to four different players.
The Week 1 upset over Green Bay bought excitement and anticipation of how the Saints 2021 season could become. On Sunday, against a division opponent, the Carolina Panthers, that excitement was tampered down. New Orleans suffered their first loss of the season after losing to Carolina 24-7. It was, by far, one of the worst performances that we have witnessed under the Sean Payton era. The offense sputtered for the entire football game.
The wide receivers could not gain any separation from the Carolina secondary. Alvin Kamara was the Saints leading receiver, who only caught four passes for a dismal 25 yards. “We left our defense out on the field too much,” Kamara said. “We’ve got to do a better job of finding our rhythm and being more efficient on first and second down. I don’t blame anybody. It’s on us. We’ve got to do better.” It was just one of those days where the Saints’ offense was just flat.
There was no energy throughout the game, and it showed in their performance. Carolina’s defense set the tone from the start, and they never looked back. They took advantage of a New Orleans offensive line, missing a key contributor in center Erik McCoy. McCoy is out with a calf injury that he suffered in Week 1 against Green Bay. Second-year player Cesar Ruiz’s natural position is center. It was the position that he played while at the University of Michigan.
Carolina’s lethal pass rush quickly dominated Ruiz. There are just things that McCoy is more proficient in than Ruiz when it comes to playing the position of center. At the post-game presser, Sean Payton made no excuses about what had occurred throughout the week and on the field against Carolina. “Our protection plan wasn’t good,” Payton added. “It had nothing to do with us being short-handed.”
The lack of protection allowed Winston to be sacked four times and passing for 111 yards and two interceptions. In the past, Winston was known for being a quarterback that is red-hot one week, and the following can become very erratic as a passer. It will be interesting to see if this is a continued trend under the guidance of Sean Payton. As for the defense, they had their issues throughout the game, but they made some game-changing plays between the first and second half.
However, the Saints’ offense could still not capitalize on a blocked field goal attempt recovered by Zack Baun and an interception by Malcolm Roach. No one knows for sure what happened to energy that was noticeable in last Sunday’s performance against Green Bay, but the Saints’ offense needs to regain focus very soon. New Orleans will play another road game before returning to the Caesars Superdome to host the New York Giants. There is still time to correct any miscues that occurred on both sides of the football.
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Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Observer.