Saturday 24 Mar 2018

Observations from the Field – Panthers v Saints 9-27-15

Luke McCown was surprisingly good.  Sean Peyton dialed up a game plan that the Carolina Panthers defense had trouble addressing in the first half.  McCown was exceptional with his pass completion percentage, spreading the ball around to his receivers in a Drew Brees-esque manner.  Drew could not have done it better.   How ironic that McCown’s Verizon commercial, touting the virtues of having a solid back-up plan, proved to be absolutely true in this game.  Carolina could not get pressure, and he completed a frustrating number of underneath passes despite relatively good coverage.  The Saints offensive line seemed to be giving him enough time to make good decisions.NFL: Saints v Panthers SEPT 27


On the Panthers side of the ball, Cam Newton was outstanding again this week, finding his “no-name” receivers downfield and making much better use of Greg Olsen than in the previous weeks.  I saw Olsen become absolutely furious in the Houston game when he repeatedly gained separation to no avail.  He and Newton must have had a heart-to-heart, a discussion that clearly paid off.  Olsen is a mighty presence on the field—just like Newton.  The two can make a magnificent impact on this league if Carolina can just pretend like it has a few deep ball threats.  Ted Ginn, Jr. is a gazelle, but he continues to struggle with his catches. NFL: Saints v Panthers SEPT 27


What happened to special teams?  The kickoff coverage team nearly cost the Panthers the ball game.  When Saints wide receiver Marcus Murphy fumbled the kickoff return, Sean Peyton gave him an earful.  He was so distraught on the sidelines, I thought he was going to cry.  After a stupid penalty on the Panthers for going out of bounds and not coming back in, Murphy had a second chance.  He shoved that second chance down the Panthers’ throats, taking the kickoff all the way back for a touchdown.  The Saints sidelines went crazy.  Their screams nearly pierced my eardrums.  I thought the Panthers might not recover from the momentum shift.  To their credit, the Panthers scored on the very next drive.  From my viewpoint, that score was the most important drive of the day. NFL: Saints v Panthers SEPT 27


What can we say about Josh Norman’s interception on the Saints’ late fourth quarter drive? The pass was not a throwing error; Josh Norman just made one of the most spectacular catches I have ever witnessed.  He paid the price, getting his wind knocked out when he slammed to the ground on his back.  He recovered in an instant; his smile could have lit up all the office buildings in downtown Charlotte.NFL: Saints v Panthers SEPT 27


I have to mention the play of Thomas Davis as well.  His critical stripping of the ball from Colston deep in Carolina territory stopped the Saints momentum in so many ways.  It must have been satisfying to Roman Harper, the former Saint, to pick up that fumble and sweep by the Saints’ bench.  Harper, who used to be such a thorn in the Panthers’ sides, finally got to stick it to the Saints.  Hey, Saints, just because a guy has gray hair does not mean he needs to be replaced.

NFL: Saints v Panthers SEPT 27 NFL: Saints v Panthers SEPT 27

Final observations:


Luke Kuechly pacing the sidelines, pumping up the defense, looking like a kid outside the candy store with no money.NFL: Saints v Panthers SEPT 27


Greg Olsen, getting in his teammates’ faces, saying, “we just have to pick up where we left off” and promptly scoring a touchdown on the next drive.

NFL: Saints v Panthers SEPT 27

A young boy with cancer, inspiring the entire team and the Panther fans everywhere to “keep pounding.”NFL: Saints v Panthers SEPT 27


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