4 takeaways from the Panthers’ 26-7 upset over Saints

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Carolina Panthers didn’t care what the New Orleans Saints have done or who they brought with them to Bank of America Stadium in Week 2. They only cared about the 60 minutes and 22 men on the field today.

That showed, as the Panthers pulled an impressive 26-7 upset on Sunday. Here are the four biggest takeaways from the victory.

Phil Snow has something special

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina opened up the campaign with a fiery performance last Sunday, holding the New York Jets to 14 points and 252 total yards while racking up six sacks. But that, again, came against the goddamn Jets. So, of course, there was some doubt if we'd see a similar outing against a much better, much smarter Saints offense. Well, doubt this. The Panthers brought the league-leading pressure from last week back around today, hitting quarterback Jameis Winston 11 times for four sacks. That limited the Saints' normally potent passing attack to a measly 80 yards, zero scores and a pair of interceptions. A solid chunk of the credit, over these first two games, should be claimed by defensive end Haason Reddick. The free-agent signee has been a major force, stringing together 1.5 sacks on the day after an impactful team debut a week ago. Orchestrated by defensive coordinator Phil Snow, this Carolina defense has been molded into something pretty special in a very short amount of time. They went from a skeleton of a depth chart to begin 2020 to one of the most exciting groups in the game right now.

Sam Darnold bends, but doesn't break

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

We'll tell you right off the top: Darnold's final stat-line looks better than he actually did on Sunday. That, however, didn't do much to Carolina's bottomline. The fourth-year quarterback started off hot, leading a quick five-play scoring drive to open the contest on a 20-yard touchdown to wideout Brandon Zylstra. A quarter later, he'd toss for another score to DJ Moore in giving the Panthers 17-0 lead at the break. He wouldn't, though, exactly close the outing up as strong. Darnold reverted back to his Jets days at times, dancing a bit too much in the pocket and coughing up an ill-advised interception on a play that would've been better served as a sack. Luckily, the Panthers didn't need Darnold to turn into some sort of Superman to fend off New Orleans. His 68.4-percent completion clip (26-of-38) and 305 yards were just fine in pacing the win.

Jaycee Horn is already quite comfortable

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As we detailed this past week, Horn had himself a solid debut last Sunday. He followed that up with perhaps an even better showing for his encore in Week 2. With versatile defensive back Myles Hartsfield set to miss eight to 12 weeks and A.J. Bouye still a game away, the nickel spot had to be manned. So that's exactly what Horn did. The 2021 eighth overall selection finished the game with zero tackles, indicating Winston and the Saints didn't want to look his way that often. He did, though, make a mark in the box score with his first career interception. Horn stepped up to play a key role in shutting down an offense that chucked for five touchdowns against a very legit Green Bay Packers defense a week ago. The early returns are coming up aces for the rookie.

The kicking competition shall continue

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

What a barrel of monkeys this has been, huh? The Panthers probably aren't done looking for a kicker, as the new guy wasn't very assuring this afternoon. Zane Gonzalez converted on four of his six kicks, having been blocked on a 50-yard field goal attempt and missing an extra-point try. Considering the team didn't bring in competition for the former incumbent Joey Slye almost all summer, it's quite silly how much of an open competition this has now become. If Gonzalez doesn't last, Carolina could be on its fourth different leg already. Hey, did you know the Panthers used to have Harrison Butker? [listicle id=640842]

1

1