Panthers Should Dominate Saints - or Else

Panthers Should Dominate Saints - or Else

The New Orleans Saints are 0-2. The Carolina Panthers are 2-0. It's a home game for Carolina, but without their #1 WR in Kelvin Benjamin. The Saints are without Drew Brees. Still no Luke this week due to his concussion, but A.J. Klein filled the bill well last week in reserve - at least the Panthers have both breadth AND depth at linebacker, the deepest position group on the entire team. The Saints no longer have Jimmy Graham OR Kenny Stills, and Mark Ingram is going to face a very, very stout Panthers defense...a legitimate top-five unit. The Saints rank 24th in overall defense.

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Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints: A fractured take on this week's matchup

Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints: A fractured take on this week's matchup

The Panthers march into Bank of America stadium this week riding a 2 game winning streak. Not-so-anxiously awaiting are the slumping New Orleans Saints. Carolina’s winning ways (much maligned by mainstream media) have come on the back of a ferocious defense. The offense is missing injured wide-out Kelvin Benjamin, but true to the team motto, they continue to keep pounding. 

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NFC South Quarterback Rankings

As NFL teams prepare for training camp that begins later this month, fans continue to speculate about offseason hype, frankly, because there’s nothing else.  Fans and analysts are taking statistics from previous years and meshing them into some sort of equation that is suppose to determine the fate of the 2014 NFL season. Certain teams made big splashes during free agency, while others remained quiet until the draft. Some teams, like Cleveland, searched for that franchise quarterback, while others like Dallas tried to find ways to protect their franchise guy or give him more weapons.

Quarterback is the most important position. Quarterbacks are asked to be leaders, playmakers, orchestrate offenses, and to be the defenses #1 fan by keeping them in relatively friendly circumstances. Quarterbacks always carry the biggest burden--both glory and blame. What separates a QB from the rest is how he handles glory and bounces back from blame.

There hasn’t been much quarterback personnel change, aside from Tampa Bay’s current competition, in the NFC .The supporting casts for these QBs has changed tremendously, however. As one of the NFL’s toughest divisions, NFC Stout quarterbacks need to be both mentally and physically tough.  Here’s the NFC South quarterback rankings based on this criteria of glory and blame.

1) Drew Brees (Saints)


NFL elite and likely hall of famer, Drew Brees clearly claims the glory of #1.  Brees is a born leader and confidently commands any team and any player he works with to continual success. He is remarkably accurate and has great pocket presence and footwork for a 35 year old man. Brees ranks among the smartest and most consistent quarterbacks for nearly a decade.  Just last year he set the single season passing record with 5,087 yards.  He’s thrown for 40+ touchdowns twice, and missed the mark by 1 with 39 in 2013.  On the field, Brees has led the Saints to home field dominance in the Superdome, going 8-0 at home last season.  Off field, Brees is beloved for his early commitment to living in the city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He’s become a leader beyond that of a quarterback, but of a culture of resilience.

Brees has the weapons on offense to keep producing his offensive success. He arguably has one of the most talented and athletic tight ends in Jimmy Graham and has a knack for making mid-level receivers look deadly.  It’s almost hard to gauge

Regardless, a healthy Drew Brees rightly earns the glory of #1 NFC Stout QB.

if the receivers are dangerous or if Brees is just lethal.  Drafting Brandin Cooks, a playmaker with deadly speed, Brees and the Saints don’t show signs of losing offensive potency.

2) Cam Newton (Panthers)

The number two quarterback in the division is Cam Newton. The distinguishing differences between Brees and Newton is consistency and experience, well and a Super Bowl ring. Bear with me for a moment. First, Newton is very young. He has accomplished so much in his first three seasons and he has plenty of years left to grow, mature, and improve. Second he can kill you with his legs, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down at all. Given his recent surgery, he may just be more devastating. Newton is one of the most dangerous threats in the league because of his ability to throw, scramble, and run the read option.

The Panthers made a huge shift in the off-season, losing most of their offensive starters to retirement or free agency. However, they did bring in some veteran receivers for Newton, including Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery, and Tiquan Underwood. Like the Saints, Carolina also drafted a wide receiver in the first round. Kelvin Benjamin, a huge prospect out of Florida State University, has a high ceiling, literally and metaphorically. Benjamin will command enough attention to open up things for other guys in the air and on the ground.

Cam hasn’t entered the realms of elite quarterbacks yet for two reasons--inconsistency and his emotional personality.  Cam struggled early from the pressure of his leadership role both on and off the field. On the field, he can get overly excited, which then leads to poor footwork and inaccurate throws. Cam often looks jazzed up for the first couple of series, and we all know he throws a high ball. Cam simply tries to do too much at times. His freakish physical gifts cause him to hold the ball longer than needed or force a bullet into coverage.  

Off the field, and I mean on the actual sidelines, Cam received tremendous criticism for his demeanor and failure to play the parts of relentless student with game pics in hand or offensive cheerleader. Let’s just say if Cam was the 8th dwarf, he would have been named “Pouty” at one point. (This may be the only time ever Cam has been compared to a dwarf.)

Almost every quarterback has struggled with handling these pressures. Newton is still maturing as a player and a leader.  He made significant strides during last years division championship run.  In another year or two, any blame or association with these struggles will fade and Newton will claim the glory of #1.

3) Matt Ryan (Falcons)

In the third place, I have Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons. He is a solid quarterback who also struggles with inconsistency and he isn’t very mobile. Ryan has been known to make crucial plays and carry the team through the thick and thin. However, in the past few years he has had the most skilled supporting players surrounding him and still fallen  short. He has arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL with Roddy White and Julio Jones. To top that, he also had a future hall of famer tight end Tony Gonzalez to throw to.

Last year, injury plagued the Falcons offense, causing them to have one of their worst seasons in recent memory. A top quarterback should have the ability to lead the team and win games regardless of the situation. Without some of his star weapons, Ryan looked like an average quarterback. It doesn’t help that Gonzalez has now officially retired and they didn’t make too many adjustments on offense in the offseason. Being the most crucial position on the football team, the quarterback should make the offense great, not the offense make the quarterback great

Ryan still has many years in the league and will have many chances to improve and make a name for himself. However, right now the name “Matty Ice” is what is sticking to the tongues of fans and players around the league.

4) ???Tampa Bay???? 


In last place we have the quarterbacks from Tampa Bay. The reason why quarterback is plural is because we still don’t even know who the starter will be. Currently the top choices are either Mike Glennon or Josh McCown. A young player with potential or a veteran with experience. Tampa has a solid offense with a healthy Doug Martin, wide receiver Vincent Jackson, and their new rookie receiver Mike Evans.

Last year was a terrible season for the Buccaneers. They looked awful and were crippled by injuries, especially at running back. With a new coach, the Buccaneers will definitely have a better season this year. However, will they go from last to first, probably not. The quarterback situation is still too shaky to make that big of a leap in one year. It’s a tough decision choosing either potential or experience. Unfortunately McCown hasn’t had too many memorable moments to make a name for himself and claim the starting position on reputation alone. He has had some decent games but he has been a backup for most of his career.  This may be an actual competition for the part, and auditions start during camp. 

Either player Tampa chooses doesn’t matter effect this ranking. Until one of them steps up and makes plays when they matter and can play more consistent or present or more serious threat, they will remain in 4th place behind Brees, Newton, and Ryan.

So glory or blame, is the ranking right?

By +Patrick Newton