John S. Cooks, Darlington, NC:
"DURR I'M A PANTHERS FANS BBQ BBQ SPARE RIBS BBQ!"
They all do it, Magary. All of them.
Jim Bob Darlington, Gastonia, NC:
"Robert Griffin ripped the Saints’ defense to shreds last week. Cam Newton’s basically the same player. How will the Saints gameplan for him, when they clearly couldn’t stop a Cam Newton with one less year of experience?"
This crap right here. It won’t end until kickoff, will it? Every Saints or Panthers website in the land contains something like this. Let’s pretend for a second they’re exactly the same (because, you know, they both run fast, or something...or something). Washington didn’t run Carolina’s offense. Washington ran some ridiculous Baylor emulation, complete with read-option and profuse quick screens. It’s a gimmick, and it won’t last. But yes, the Saints fell victim to the gimmickry.
Other than the Wildcat aspect, which appears to be here to stay because of the mismatches it creates, the Redskins didn’t do anything a coach can’t gameplan against. A coach, that is, who isn’t a third stringer himself running his first game, with a defensive coordinator who is still installing a new scheme.
Anyway, this silly comparison (repeated out loud, in front of people and everything, by at least two Saints defensive players) is reaching a ridiculous furor, as shown in this 'Cam Metric'. Andrew Luck had 113 less passing yards, 1 less TD, and 9 less rushing yards than Rookie Cam Newton in week 1! Robert Griffin had 102 less passing yards, the same number of TDs, and 24 more rushing yards than RCN! Robert Griffin is more like Cam than Luck!
The problem for you Panthers fans? Cam Newton Mark II had 119 less passing yards, one less TD, and one more interception than RCN, and the entire team had eight less rushing yards than RCN. Against Tampa Bay. If there's one justification for a comparison of RGIII to Newton, there's this: his numbers are more Cammish than Cam's. But the tendency to run sometimes (along with other visual similarities) isn't enough to mean that one "prepares" a defense for the other.
Certainly not any more than playing twice last year against, you know, the actual player you're playing this week.
So can we put the silly Cam Newton / Robert Griffin comparisons to rest until we know Current Cam is even in the same ballpark as Rookie Cam, and until we know that Griffin is capable of more than one great game? Thanks. Just as it's unfair to compare anyone to Newton's rookie campaign, it's beyond silly to use RGIII as some indicator of what Newton can do to any particular defense.
Nell Barnett, Asheville, NC:
"Last week was miserable. Both the Saints and Panthers got beat down by teams we thought were inferior. Would it be safe to say that the loser of this game will finish last in the division? Do you think Atlanta or Tampa Bay will come out on top?"
Whoa, Nelly. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As I tried to explain on Monday, you can’t draw hard and fast conclusions from week one. Saints fans and Panthers fans alike agree with that statement, some more eloquently than others. Nothing’s on film yet, teams aren’t who we think they are, and breakout players haven’t, um, broken out. So let’s all calm down for a minute.
The Falcons will come back down to Earth. Soon. If history has taught us anything, it’ll be in front of millions of viewers on primetime television. Wait. The Falcons play who this week? On Monday? Oh my.
I don't think we can judge Tampa just yet. They've only played Carolina, and what can that tell us?
The Saints will recover this week also, and throttle a clearly inferior opponent in their own stadium.
So I guess what I’m saying is: yeah, I think the team that loses this weekend will finish last.
Devery Henderson, Opelousas, LA:
"The Panthers’ uniforms are pretty. Imagine if giraffes came in that color. Have you seen my shoes? I need to untie them before the firemen get here."
This is the Opponents’ Mailbag, Devery. Go lie down. Take it easy this weekend, okay?
Jonathan Morgan, Charleston, SC:
"Mind if I ask you a fantasy football question?"
Sure, go ahead. But last week I lost by about 40 points, and I played Ray Rice, so I’m not sure how much help I will be.
"Wow, that’s pretty bad. Okay. So Matt Ryan torched Kansas City last week to the tune of 40-something fantasy points. But he’s playing on Monday Night Football, and the last time he played in front of a national audience, he got outscored by his defense. Yet, Cam Newton really screwed me last week, and he’s playing a Saints defense that we really can’t predict right now. Still, as a good Panther fan, I have serious qualms about putting myself in a position to root for anything Falcon-related. What should I do?"
I don’t know. Maybe someone will have some advice for you in the comments section. *looks at readers sheepishly*
Marty Carlton, Charleston, SC:
"The Saints and Panthers combined for 42 rushing yards last week. Their opponents combined for 283. Something has to give, right?"
Obviously. To be fair to both teams, neither were exactly victimized on a play-by-play basis by a rushing attack. It was a question of quantity over quality. The Redskins and Bucs rushed for 3.5 and 3.6 yards per carry, respectively. That’s not exactly shut-down rushing defense, but it means that the Skins and Bucs had to call 80 rushes combined to pile up the big numbers. They just kept pounding.
The difference is that while the Saints were running the ball for positive yardage (3.2 ypc), they just abandoned the rushing game entirely, as Saints are sometimes wont to do. The Panthers were right to abandon the running game, gaining less than a yard per carry on those 12 rushes. You can fix play-calling, especially when you’re facing a team that has trouble stopping the run. I’m not sure you can fix a complete inability to run quite so easily.
Consider now that Drew Brees has thrown for 21 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in games after losses over the last 3 years, and you’ll realize that the Panthers may be playing from behind a little.
So if anyone suddenly starts running the ball successfully, it will probably be the Saints. Unless, of course, they just don’t feel like it again.
Ryan Whistleberry, Anchorage, Alaska:
"You're forgetting about Jon Beason. He's arguably the best linebacker in football."
Right. It's pretty rare that a blogger can make a real difference in someone's life, so it's important that we don't let an opportunity like that pass us by. I took the time to do a little research, Ryan. The Mayo Clinic lists as a symptom of hypothermia "Confusion or difficulty thinking." Go inside, Ryan. Get an electric blanket or something. If you feel the urge to start taking off your clothes, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Legal notice: The Angry Who Dat is not a physician, and nothing in this post should be construed as medical advice. If you believe you are suffering from any medical condition, including but not limited to hypothermia, dementia, or thinking Jon Beason is the best linebacker in football, please seek the attention of a qualified medical professional.
Jacob Longfall, Johnson City, TN:
"Remember when y'all had Jake Delhomme, but your coaches didn't know he was good so they kept Aaron Brooks instead, but then he came to Carolina and got us to a Super Bowl? You guys were so mad."
You got me there. I was one of those guys screaming for Jake to get a shot. I mean, Aaron Brooks, dude. And then he went to Carolina and barely lost a Super Bowl. Man. And then the next year you got knocked out of the wildcard chase by the Saints, remember that? And then the Panthers were kind of good for a couple years but not really, and then Delhomme got hurt and then he was better but then he threw a bunch of interceptions. Matt Moore took over and ol' Jake got stuck on IR on like December 20th when it really didn't even help the team, but they just wanted him out of the way, and Jake threw a big fit probably but it got intercepted too, and then he went to the Browns and he sucked and you drafted a rookie that was really, really good but he turned out to be a disappointment in the end too.
"I think you got ahead of yourself a little there."
Charlotte Jackson, Greenville, NC:
"What do you expect to see Sunday in Charlotte?"
I got really detailed last week, and basically all of it was wrong. So I'll keep it simple. The Saints are going to beat the brakes off of the Panthers in their own house. It's gonna be quite ugly. Don't let your children watch. Nightmares and all. There must be retribution for the atrocities of September 9.
That, or I'll spend the evening trying to figure out how to leap to my death from a first-story window.