Cam Newton made things happen against a subpar Saints defense on Sunday, but the Carolina secondary played like chumps.
Drew Brees picked apart the Carolina defense with ease. The front seven put plenty of pressure on the quarterback. But aside from a lucky turnover, the secondary played atrociously.
The box score only tells part of the story.
Brees threw for a ton of yards, 325 to be exact. Most of those yards were on short or crossing routes. Brees completed 31 passes for an average of 6.6 yards, meaning the Saints spent most of their possessions methodically moving down the field.
At the same time, the Saints mixed in several down-the-field passes. Darren Sproles was particularly problematic for the Panthers defense. There aren't many people in the NFL who can mirror his skill set. Sproles is a small, quick back. But, his speed is a problem. Many good teams have one or two players who are as quick as Sproles.
Pierre Thomas was also a pest. Once he got past the front seven, all bets were off. The Carolina secondary is simply too slow to ever be a threat.
Speed isn't something a team can necessarily get better at without signing new players. Look for the secondary to continue to be a continual problem.
The linebacking corps didn't play spectacular either.
Thomas ran for 110 yards. But, he didn't have a massive amount of carries. Thomas only received the rock in the backfield nine times. Nine times! Did the defense decide to let him run past before or after it realized that he was the real deal?
The linebacking corps came into the season highly touted. Three of the top four tacklers were secondary players. That's a problem. I expect Jon Beason to play like a Pro Bowler and Luke Kuechly to play like a first-rounder. The linebackers are the heart of the defense. Carolina's heart is sputtering.
Not all areas of the Panthers defense underwhelmed. The defensive line brought back memories of Julius Peppers and Kris Jenkins. Brees was constantly under pressure.
The line may quickly become the Panthers' strong suit.
Work doesn't stop with one win. The Super Bowl champion New York Giants are up next.
That's scary good.
The Giants' have much better receivers than either of the teams the Panthers have faced this year. Carolina badly needs a second win against a good team. But, if the defense doesn't improve, expect a loss.