The Carolina Panthers made us fans sweat again today a remarkable interception by Josh Norman helped preserve the 27-22 victory over the Luke Mccown led Saints to improve to 3-0 on the year! Here are my top five takeaways from the action in the Queen City!
1 Cam Newton was Superman again
his was the best overall performance by offense overcoming another slow start and erasing a 10-point deficit! The offensive line had another great performance, giving Cam Newton clean pockets enabling him to shred the Saints defense. He was 20 for 31 for 315 yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown using all the tools in his tool belt to help lead this team to victory. He didn't have to run a lot, but when he did it was effective converting to big fourth downs and one Houdini like escape to convert a key third-down! Here is a stat for you 41% of the time Cam Newton runs the ball; he converts a first down very impressive! He also didn't have to overcome many drops I only remember one by backup tight end Ed Dickson that was the biggest improvement I saw in the offense this week.
Cam Newton looked very confident and I didn't cringe like I usually do when he throws off his back foot because I didn't see that today and when he's smiling we are unstoppable I like this offense it's fun to watch! We are going to need similar performances in the weeks to come when competition stiffens and I believe we can do that with the amount of confidence we are exhibiting after today's game.
2. Greg Olsen's Career Day
A huge contributor to the big offensive day was Mr. reliable tight end Greg Olsen, who had eight catches for a career-high 134 yards and two touchdowns! He took the Saints defense to school, specifically cornerback Brandon Browner running right past him for a 52 yard chunk play that sparked the offense! The Saints left him wide open on many plays, all I can say is thank you, much appreciated! I continue to say this he is one of the best tight ends in the league; he is the veteran presence this offense needs with all the young players; Sunday his play seemed to rub off on the other receivers and opening up big plays for the offense!
Great execution all around and once again thank you to the Chicago Bears for giving us Greg Olsen! I anticipate the much of the same he might not have the record days that he had today, but opponents will have to account for him on every down opening up plays for our other playmakers; he will still get his numbers trust me he is too good!
3. Searching for a Pass Rush
There are a few concerns despite the victory the biggest being that we were unable to generate pressure against the quarterback Luke McCown allowing him to scan the field and find the holes in our secondary because they had to cover for long periods of time. McCown was 31 for 38 for 310 yards and that remarkable interception by Norman to seal the victory for the Panthers!
However, if this team wants to continue winning football games our pass rush must improve because we are going to be facing a gauntlet of quarterbacks in the coming weeks Andrew luck, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson to name a few. If it doesn't get better soon we could in a world of hurt if we can't get to the opposing quarterback. We also suffered a big loss on that front seven as defensive end Charles Johnson to a hamstring injury and the team fears he could miss several weeks a huge blow to a team that relies on the front seven so much.
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is going to have to get creative with his play calling to amp up the pass rush if we want to continue our winning ways! I have no doubt we will look for reinforcements and find a way to get the quarterback on the ground anyway possible!
4. Sign Josh Norman to a Contract Extension Now
Forget Revis Island now beware Lake Norman in three games he already has two interceptions one for a touchdown and a fumble recovery! He is now a top corner in the NFL no doubt about it and I know 31 teams that would like to rethink not drafting Norman and he plays angry and with a chip on the shoulder because of that! The Carolina Panthers have found themselves a star and they can't let him slip away he needs to be signed now because he will be the most sought after corner if he hits the free-agent market.
I trust that our front office will get this deal done making sure he is in Carolina blue for a long time. I'm glad easing Carolina blue this year because I love seeing him once again ruin all-pro wide receivers days it's so much fun!
5. Too many Penalties
I hope this is the last time I have to talk about as having too many penalties shooting ourselves in the foot helping the opponents gain momentum. We had 10 penalties for 88 yards its really fixable and I hope the coaching staff will continue to preach smart play and doing away with the silly mental errors that end up making the fans and coaches want to pull their hair out! We just have to be a lot smarter in the coming weeks because we are playing quarterbacks with great instincts and could really take advantage of those silly mistakes.
The offense carried was awesome today putting up 431 total yards shredding the Saints much-maligned defense led by Rob Ryan! We looked the best we have in a while and the offensive line was a big reason why again like I said last week it looks like the biggest weakness coming into the season has been our biggest strength; keeping Newton upright is a big key to our success we did that today. The defense did enough forcing two turnovers and obviously the game clinching interception, but like I said the pass rush must improve if we want to continue winning football games! All that matters is the scoreboard at the end of the day and we are 3-0, let's make it 4-0 GO Panthers!!
By Cassidy Mcmahon