Panthers vs. Saints: Halftime Notes

The New Orleans Saints jumped out to a 10-0 lead but the Carolina Panthers were able to respond and head into halftime tied at 10.

  • The Carolina Panthers decided to start Wes Horton over Kony Ealy at the right defensive end position. Ealy had two costly penalties on the Houston Texans final drive last week and this could have contributed to Horton getting the start. However, Horton had a penalty of his own when he was called for tripping on the Saints’ first drive.
  • The Saints clearly had a plan coming into this game how to move the ball on this Panthers defense. With Drew Brees out, they made sure to call high percentage throws for Luke McCown and he responded completing 16 of 17 passes but only for 124 yards. The reason the Saints were so successful was because of their work on third down converting four of six.
  • The Saints’ offensive game plan has been able to almost completely neutralize the Panthers’ pass rush. These short, quick passes is allowing McCown to get the ball out of his hands quickly and not giving the Panthers’ defensive line a chance to get any pressure on him. In the second half, the Panthers’ cornerbacks may need to get more pressure on the wide receivers at the line of scrimmage to try and disrupt the Saints’ routes and force McCown to hold the ball slightly longer.
  • Greg Olsen continues to see his stats take a hit due to penalties. He now has two touchdown catches this season that have been called back due to penalties. In Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he had a touchdown catch called back due to an offensive pass interference call on him. This week, it was another offensive pass interference call but this time on Richie Brockel who was called for a pick. Olsen was able to answer back and caught a touchdown pass from Cam Newton two plays later.
  • Olsen though has been the key to the Panthers’ passing attack. Earlier this week, I wrote about how the Saints struggled to contain tight ends and Olsen has been the beneficiary of this with five receptions for 109 yards and the one touchdown. There is no reason for Newton to look away from Olsen until the Saints’ defense can prove they can stop him.
  • The Panthers continue to struggle running the ball, specifically Jonathan Stewart. The team’s featured running back only gained 18 yards on the ground and 14 of those came on one play. The Panthers need to find a way to get him going in the second half or give players like Mike Tolbert or even Cameron Artis-Payne opportunities to carry the ball.

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