Upon Further Review: Saints at Panthers

Posted by David Schexnaydre Jr October 19, 2008 4:09PM

Well, I didn’t see that coming.

Actually, if you had told me that the final score would be 30-7 I would have felt very confident that the Saints would be the winning team. I really didn’t think our offense would be held to only 7 points, but Carolina is a good team and that’s what good teams do. They take you out of your game and make you play theirs. Carolina did exactly what they wanted to do on both sides of the football. On defense they held Drew Brees in check, they got off of the field on third downs, and they caused turnovers. On offense they converted on third downs, they didn’t turn the ball over, and they used the run to set up the pass. The Saints, on the other hand, didn’t really do anything.

This loss could potentially be a devastating one. First off, it sets the Saints back in the division. They are now 3-4 and looking up at the rest of the NFC South. Not only does the loss hurt in the standings, but it’s a huge confidence booster for a division rival and has to be detrimental to the Saints’ psyche. In short, there are absolutely no positives to come out of this game. Some clouds have a silver lining. This one does not.
Let’s be honest and not try to fool ourselves. This is an inconsistent team that has a tendency to turn the ball over. On offense the Saints are entirely dependent on the quarterback. While some other teams can rebound from poor quarterbacking performances and still manage to win games, the Saints cannot. On defense the Saints are improved from last year but it still isn’t enough. They cannot create turnovers and sometimes have trouble getting off of the field. While Vilma has been great, the Saints still lack a true playmaker on that side of the ball. There’s no one on the Saints defense that is a game changer or that can make up for others’ mistakes. In short, almost everything has to go right for the Saints to win. They’re simply not good enough right now to overcome mistakes and miscues.
The Essentials

The Saints had 17 first downs (7 rushing, 9 passing, 1 penalty); The Panthers had 18 (7,10,1)

The Saints were 5/12 on third downs; The Panthers were 7/15

The Saints had 343 total yards; The Panthers had 336

The Saints turned the ball over twice; The Panthers did not turn it over

The Saints had the ball for 26:59; The Panthers had it for 33:01
The Cie Grant Injury Report

Reggie Bush (knee), Jonathan Goodwin (knee), Entire Roster (pride)
The Willie Roaf Offensive Player of the Week Award

Deuce McAllister. Deuce only carried the ball 9 times but he did manage to get 47 yards rushing. Along with his work in the running game, Deuce also did a good job in protection.
The Rickey Jackson Defensive Player of the Week Award

Kendrick Clancy. The Saints defense once again played well against the run and Clancy was a big reason. He played well again today and even came up with a sack. The Panthers ran the ball 39 times and were held to under 4 yards per carry. 5 of those 39 running plays were stopped for a loss of yards.
The Steve Gleason Special Teams Player of the Week Award

Pierre Thomas. Thomas has been very good on kickoff returns this season. He returned 4 against Carolina for an average of 27 yards. If he only had better speed he would have at least 2 return touchdowns this season. He consistently breaks tackles and is very rarely taken down by the first defender to him.
Anatomy of a Play

With 11:33 left in the 4th quarter and trailing 27-7 the Saints faced a 4th and 2 from the Carolina 3 yard line.

The Saints came out with Lance Moore split wide left and Devery Henderson split wide right with Robert Meachem in the slot to the right. Aaron Stecker was the lone back in the backfield and Jeremy Shockey was lined up to the left as a tight end.

The Panthers came out with four down lineman, two linebackers, and five defensive backs.

At the snap, right tackle Jon Stinchcomb blocked left defensive end Hilee Taylor to the outside and right guard Jahri Evans blocked linebacker Thomas Davis, who was lined up as a down lineman, to the outside. Center Jonathan Goodwin immediately went to the second level and blocked linebacker Jon Beason. Left guard Carl Nicks blocked defensive tackle Damoine Lewis down to the right side of the field and left tackle Jammal Brown went to the second level and blocked linebacker James Anderson.

This left tight end Jeremy Shockey on the left side of the line blocking Julius Peppers one-on-one. At the snap Peppers sliced right across Shockey’s face and Shockey reached to block him but was too late. Peppers hit Stecker as the got to the original line of scrimmage and took him down immediately. The Saints failed to get the first down and turned the ball over on downs.

Carolina then went on a 16 play drives that lasted for 9:30 and culminated in a John Kasay 28-yard field goal. The Saints would not get the ball back until there was 1:57 left in the game.
Fantasy Focus

If you were starting any Saint today then you were likely disappointed. Brees had his worst performance of the season, Reggie only played one half, Colston was held without a reception, Shockey lost a fumble, and the only touchdown of the day went to Mike Karney, who is owned in approximately 0% of fantasy leagues.
Short Yardage

+ The Saints did a horrible job of tackling today. They did not consistently wrap up and Carolina made them pay for it. The Panthers broke several tackles and had a bunch of yards after first contact. Against a physical team like the Panthers you cannot afford to blow tackles.

+ Drew Brees was definitely off today. He missed badly on several throws and when we was accurate the receivers didn’t make the catches. The interception that the threw was intended for Colston and was clearly underthrown and he also missed Devery on a deep ball that was overthrown. Drew is probably the best quarterback in the NFL right now but he was clearly not on top of his game today.

+ I will never understand why Aaron Stecker is getting touches. Never. While he likely got some carries because of Reggie’s injury, we still have too many talented playmakers to be wasting snaps giving the ball to Stecker. On the 4th down that was stuffed at the goal line, Stecker got the carry. Really? Someone thought this was actually a good idea? Wow.

+ The Saints actually had a good day running the football. They ran the ball 22 times and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. They weren’t really able to benefit from the running game, however, because they fell behind and had to start throwing it. Carolina has a very good defense, obviously, so having some success in the running game is encouraging.

+ What do you call a wide receiver who doesn’t receive? The Saints had entirely too many dropped balls today. Meachem bobbled a ball on the sideline, Devery dropped a deep ball, and Colston dropped a couple as well. The receivers had done a good job of holding on to the ball this season but they were awful in this game.

+ I’m still waiting on a return for our investment in Jeremy Shockey. I know that he has the ability to change a game and make plays, but I just haven’t seen it in black and gold yet. So far all we have to show for him is a hernia surgery and two fumbles.

+ It’s official: Jammal Brown is not an elite left tackle. He was an All-Pro in 2006 but he hasn’t lived up to that billing since then. I understand that he was going against one of the better pass rushers in the league in Julius Peppers but if you’re an elite player, shouldn’t you be able to match up against other elite players? Brown has been guilty of holding entirely too much this season and just hasn’t performed at the level that the Saints need him to play at.

+ Bobby McCray made some nice plays. His speed is undeniable and he has done a good job against the pass as well as the run. On one play McCray came from the other side of the field to make a tackle in traffic against the run. He has done a good job filling in for Smith and Grant and has arguably been the best pass rusher on the team this season.

+ The linebackers had a pretty good game. Vilma, Fujita, and Shanle all did a very good job of flowing to the football and making plays. I’ve been critical of Shanle in the past but I thought he played one of his better games today and Vilma once again led the team in tackles.

+ Off the top of my head I cannot think of an NFL team with worse safeties than the Saints. Harper has been the best of the bunch but that’s not saying much. They all take horrible angles on the ball and rather than providing a safety net over the top for the cornerbacks in pass protection, the safeties are huge liabilities. Without a doubt, this is an area that needs to be addressed in the offseason.
Looking Ahead

The Saints play the Chargers in London on Sunday. The Chargers are coming off of a big loss to Buffalo now have the same 3-4 record as the Saints. The Chargers and Saints are very similar teams. They both have plenty of big names and talent but have struggled in putting it all together. More than likely, one of these teams will find their season in shambles next week, while the other will be back at .500 and have a chance to make a run. Let’s hope that the Saints come out ready to play and still have a shot at getting to January once the clock runs out next week.

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