Saints vs. Panthers: 5 Things We Learned from New Orleans 35-27 Loss

Jonathan Peralta@itsjperaltaContributor IIISeptember 17, 2012

Saints vs. Panthers: 5 Things We Learned from New Orleans 35-27 Loss

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    This is something you don't see often, or something that hasn't been seen recently. The Saints are in last place. After years of being a powerhouse, this team looks far from the team that has dominated the NFC South the past couple of years.

    The New Orleans Saints had many things to deal with this offseason, but that's no excuse for their play the past two weeks. We're in Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season and the Saints are 0-2, losing their second straight against the Carolina Panthers, 35-27.

    New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl contenders? No way, not the way the Saints have been playing. It's too early in the season, but this team making the playoffs is a big unknown.

    Let's take a look at things we do know about this team so far and what we've learned.

The Defense Is a No Show

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    Going into this NFL season, the Saints defense was a big question mark. After this week's loss, it is evident that their defense still needs a ton of work.

    In two games, the Saints defense was lit up for a total of 924 yards and 75 points.

    The Saints have a new-look defense that has, so far, looked awful; getting burned big play after big play. Their pass rush isn't quite where it needs to be, and their coverage keeps breaking down.

A Case of the Dropsies

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    The New Orleans Saints are supposed to be a high-powered offense. That can't really happen if players can't hang onto the ball and make plays.

    Like Week 1, the case of the dropsies carried over into this week. Tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Lance Moore both dropped potential touchdown passes in the first quarter. Later on in the game, Joe Morgan and Darren Sproles both had dropped passes as well.

Pierre Thomas Had a Huge Game

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    The Saints distribute their carries among their four running backs. So every carry, every opportunity is important to stand out and make the most of it. Pierre Thomas did just that in today's loss against the Panthers.

    The running back only carried the ball nine times, but he gained 110 yards in those nine carries. Thomas showed his toughness and broke tackles, fighting for extra yardage throughout the game. Thomas also had four receptions for 33 yards.

    Thomas showed the Saints that they need to keep him more involved in the offense as he can be a serious threat to opposing defenses.

Darren Sproles Is Key

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    Darren Sproles is quite the player. He's proved year after year that he is a serious threat. He'll either hurt you by ground or air. Today, against the Panthers, Sproles contributed 13 receptions for 128 yards—the rest of the Saints' wide receivers had seven receptions for 93 yards.

    As always, Sproles is going to play a huge role in the Saints offense.

Cam Jordan Is Off to a Nice Start

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    Cam Jordan, the second-year defensive end, is off to a nice start. Last week he had 11 tackles; today he was disruptive and had one sack on Cam Newton.

    Jordan keeps improving, and if he keeps it up can be a force on the front four for a long time, something the Saints are in desperate need of. If anyone can get the most potential out of him, it's defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.


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