We are joined by Walker Clement, who we spoke to before the Saints week two win over the Panthers, to preview this Sunday’s game. So, with that, let’s get right into it.
LH: Bryce Young hasn’t panned out so far, but do you attribute that to his lack of weapons and coaching or do you think the Panthers made the wrong pick and Young isn’t as talented as many thought?
WC: I think it is too early to tell. The lack of weapons and the coaching certainly haven’t helped, but Young also hasn’t flashed a lot of obvious signs that he is a decent quarterback, let alone the best quarterback to come out of his draft class.
There are traits, like his ability to throw with anticipation when everything is clicking with every player on the offense, that are there if you look deeper. There are flaws, like some mechanical issues in this throws that affect accuracy, that should be easily fixable with qualified coaching. There is also a hot mess of a team around him that is going be hard to fix given the Panthers limited cap space and even more limited draft capital.
LH: Do you think firing Frank Reich in the middle of his first season was the right move? And did you seen anything from this team the last week that you didn’t see when Reich was the HC?
WC: Yeah, Reich wasn’t it. I don’t know if his staff was too disjointed to work well together, if he didn’t have any more fuel in his tank, or if he never had any fuel and ran out of other talented coaches to prop him up. Any which way, he was ultimately part of the problem in Charlotte. The firing may have been quick, but from all reports coming out of the building, it could have happened five weeks ago to similar effect.
We’ve only had one game so far without Reich, but the commitment to a downhill rushing attack seems to be stronger than before. If that is true and not just a Tampa Bay Buccaneers specific game plan then that is going to help the offense tremendously in staying on the field and generating more than three first downs per half.
LH: Adam Thielen had a nice five-game stretch from weeks 6-10 but has fallen off a bit since then. What do you attribute to his fall off and do you think he can get back on track against a Saints secondary that’s without Marshon Lattimore?
WC: Opposing teams have determined that he is the only reliable weapon that Young has and, at 33, he’s not that hard to scheme out of the game. Whether or not he gets back on track this week depends entirely on the Saints. Do y’all try to outsmart the game or do you just do the obvious thing and sit on Thielen the whole time?
LH: We all know about Brian Burns, Frankie Luvu and Derek Brown, but is there anyone on the Panthers defense that has been slept on this season? If so, who is an under the radar player the Saints need to watch out for this Sunday?
The answer would have been DiCaprio Bootle, a surprisingly effective corner who played in relief of an injured Jaycee Horn and an often-injured C.J. Henderson, but they are both back now and Bootle himself is on injured reserve.
We’re still hoping to hear some noise from Brian Burns this season, let alone any under the radar players.
LH: The Saints are five-point favorites at home according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Do you think that line is fair? And who do you think will cover in this game?
WC: The Panthers doing anything positive in this game is going to come as a surprise, specifically, a defensive turnover fueled surprise (thanks in advance, Jameis). There is still room for the interim offense to take off, but they just haven’t been good enough for all of their issues to be on coaching.
Last week was the first time since mid-October that the team scored two offensive touchdowns in the same game. I think the line is fair because Winston is going to struggle to score consistently against Ejiro Evero’s defense, but I still expect the Saints to cover en route to an awkward looking victory.
Thank you again to Walker, for joining us this week! You can check out the rest of his work here.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.