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How will the Saints’ passing offense perform against the Panthers’ passing defense?

With a tough game against the Buccaneers in the rearview mirror for the Saints, what should their passing offense look like against the Panthers this weekend?

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Another week down and this time the New Orleans Saints took a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-10. Unfortunately, the offense struggled mightily in this game for various reasons, and despite a dominant defensive performance for most of the game, they could not hold on forever. In this article, I will be breaking down how the Saints’ passing offense performed last week, and then how we should expect them to perform in Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers.

Saints passing offense - Week 2 breakdown

The Saints’ offense in general struggled against the Buccaneers, but the passing offense was at least somewhat viable for a time in the first half. But once interceptions began happening for Jameis Winston, it ended up making the passing offense completely stall on the night. The spinal fractures Jameis Winston was enduring throughout this game that were announced prior to the matchup were... to be bleak... extremely evident. He was completely unable to push the ball downfield accurately, missing Chris Olave on multiple passes where he was most certainly open over the top. The one-time Jameis was able to hit Olave with a pass, Olave fumbled it while falling forwards trying to reel it in fully.

On the night, Jameis went 25/40, passing for 236 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. The pass protection was also a major issue, again, as they gave up 6 sacks for 30 yards and really did Jameis no favors all night. To put his struggles in perspective, Jameis targeted Chris Olave 13 times on the night, and only 5 were caught, except the large majority of the other 8 were uncatchable. Obviously, this is not a dig at Jameis, only one of the interceptions I would say was definitely due to decision making and not pain in rotation and ability to push the ball. But something needs to change soon to get this offense back on track.

What should we expect in week 3 against Carolina?

Now we move onto the next part, what should we expect from the passing offense against the Panthers this weekend? To put it blatantly, if Jameis is starting, and his pain is at the same level, the offense needs to be restricted to short and intermediate passes. The Saints lost so many downs in the last game on missed deep routes where Jameis just struggled to hit the receiver due to pain while rotating his core and back. Does this spell disaster for the passing offense? No. I mean, let’s talk about the obvious, Drew Brees near the end of his career was struggling to push the ball downfield as well due to his rib injuries and his tenure in the league. Yet in his last 4 matchups against Carolina? 200+ yards in every single one, 2+ passing touchdowns in each game (3 each in 3 of the last 4) and only 1 interception total across all 4 games with an average yards per completion of 8.4 or less.

Now, is Jameis Winston Drew Brees? No again. But if the offense is restricted to look like that of the late Brees era, we could see success through short passes, especially with how prolific Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry are across the middle in slants, flats, and curls. However, will the Saints do this? Who knows, it’s Pete Carmichael calling the plays, so odds would say yes as he tends to adjust well to adversity. The big key will be having Alvin Kamara back if he does return, as if he does Jameis will have somewhat of a security blanket out of the backfield to throw to. I would be cautiously optimistic entering this matchup, as it could be a good chance for Winston to redeem himself and show some short-range accuracy but could also be another tough performance passing overall.

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