Know Your Enemy Week Two; How The Saints Matchup Against The Panthers Pt. One

September 21, 2022

The Know Your Enemy series is a weekly series breaking down who has the advantage at each position group in all the Saints matchups this season. In Week Three the 1-1 Saints travel to Charlotte to face the 0-2 Panthers.  In part one, I compare the offensive positions groups to see who has the advantage on paper.

Evaluating The Saints And Panthers Offenses Ahead Of Week Three

Quarterback (QB)

Saints

  • Jameis Winston
  • Andy Dalton
  • Taysom Hill (emergency)

Panthers

  • Baker Mayfield
  • PJ Walker

Two starting quarterbacks who on paper are a lot more similar than you might expect. Both are former first overall draft picks, and both are on their second team after a bitter end with their first one.

Stats wise they aren’t too dissimilar either, career stats; Jameis has a 61.3 % completion percentage, 21,487 yards, 138 touchdowns, and 94 interceptions.

Baker, 61.4% completion percentage, 14,505 yards, 94 touchdowns, and 57 interceptions. Very similar careers so far and both players most likely are on their last chance to be a team’s “answer” at quarterback.

Right now, I’d take Jameis, however, the leash is shortening, so far there certainly are issues with the New Orleans’ offense, some can fall at the feet of Jameis, and some the offensive coaching. The benefit of the doubt I’ve been giving Winston is dwindling, it’s time to show it for more than one quarter.

I think with Andy Dalton as the backup, the Saints also have the edge there too.

Advantage Saints

Running Back (RB)

Saints

  • Alvin Kamara
  • Mark Ingram
  • Dwayne Washington
  • Tony Jones JR
  • Adam Prentice (Fullback)

Panthers

  • Christian McCaffrey
  • Chubba Hubbard
  • D’Onta Foreman

An interesting comparison here, effectively despite having three on the roster. The Panthers only use one. McCaffrey has played 96 of the offense’s 111 total snaps. Followed by Foreman (ten snaps) and Hubbard (five snaps). Hubbard’s only rush of the season so far ended in a fumble.

We all know what McCaffery is by now, when healthy he might be the best and most dominate RB In the league, his health has held up so far this season, but playing all these snaps is a risk. So, you must ask, how long will his health remain okay with this much of a workload?

The Saints have their questions at RB. Star Alvin Kamara missed Week Two Vs the Bucs with a rib injury. It sounded like he was close to playing, so all going well they should have him back this week, but how close to 100% will he be?

Mark Ingram and Dwayne Washington looked good last week. Ingram averaged six yards per carry on his ten runs, against a very solid Bucs run defense.  Unfortunately, had his second fumble in two weeks, head coach Dennis Allen called it a game-changer and he is right, it was a killer for the Saints as they were advancing inside the Bucs’ ten-yard line.

More from Dennis Allen below:

New Orleans Saints Coach Dennis Allen, players talk about loss to Tampa Bay Buccaneers | 2022 NFL Week 2

I think the Saints have better RB depth; however, Kamara is likely to be less than 100% and McCaffrey so far is playing nearly all the snaps. Therefore, McCaffrey > than less than 100% Kamara and Saints depth players. I’m giving the edge to Carolina here.

Advantage Panthers

Wide Receiver

Saints

  • Michael Thomas
  • Jarvis Landry
  • Chris Olave
  • Deonte Harty
  • Marquez Callaway
  • Tre’Quan Smith

Panthers

  • DJ Moore
  • Robbie Anderson
  • Shi Smith
  • Terrace Marshall JR.
  • Rashard Higgins
  • Andre Roberts
  • Lavishka Shenault JR.

Two interesting groups. I think DJ Moore is an excellent receiver and he usually plays the Saints well. Averaging 73 yards per game against the Saints in six previous regular-season meetings. Robbie Anderson can still be an elite deep threat and is the Panthers’ leading receiver so far this season. After those two there is a significant drop-off. Shi Smith is Carolina’s third-leading receiver in snaps, most coming in the slot. He’s played 82 of the team’s 111 offensive snaps so far but only has two receptions. Terrace Marshall Jr is the only other WR to take a snap for the Panthers (six snaps).

Of the Saints’ five WRs that have taken offensive snaps, somewhat surprisingly rookie Chris Olave leads the team in snaps with 96, closely followed by Landry (90) and Thomas (89). All three receivers are over 100 yards for the season and are looking good.

Deonte Harty has mainly been used as a decoy so far, likely to set up some shot plays down the field soon and last year’s number one WR Marquez Callaway has played more snaps on running plays (25) than passing plays (12) so far according to PFF.

The Saints have a far deeper and consistent group at WR, this group definitely goes to them.

Advantage Saints

Tight End (TE)

Saints

  • Juwan Johnson
  • Adam Trautman
  • Taysom Hill
  • Nick Vannett

Panthers

  • Tommy Tremble
  • Ian Thomas
  • Stephen Sullivan
  • Ricci Giovanni

The biggest surprise here is through two games the Saints have a new TE1. Juwan Johnson has played 98 total snaps so far, which is 40 more than the expected TE1 Adam Trautman. Now Johnson was expected to be the leading receiving threat at TE, and he has been so far. He’s fourth on the team in receiving yards and catches. But he’s been a real factor as a run blocker, only playing four fewer snaps as a run blocker than Trautman (per PFF). I expected Johnson to break out this season, but I did not expect him to have overtaken Trautman by this much in snaps, at this stage of the season.

Three Saints Players That Could Breakout In 2022 (whodathype.com)

The Panthers on the other hand look fairly uninspiring at TE. Ian Thomas leads their TEs in snaps, but only has three catches, one of those was a big 50-yarder though. Thomas’ three catches are the same as the other TEs put together as they all have one.

Must add in here Taysom Hill’s versatility, so despite most of his plays coming lined up as a QB and running, he is listed as a TE and that QB running game has been effective so far.

More versatilely and receiving threat for the Saints group, this one goes to them.

Advantage Saints

Offensive Line (O-line)

Saints

  • James Hurst      
  • Andrus Peat     
  • Erik McCoy       
  • Cesar Ruiz          
  • Ryan Ramczyk 
  • Landon Young
  • Calvin Throckmorton
  • Lewis Kidd
  • Wyatt Davis

Panthers

  • Ikenm Ekwonu
  • Brady Christensen
  • Pat Elfein
  • Austin Corbett
  • Taylor Moton
  • Michael Jordan
  • Bradley Bozeman
  • Cade Mays
  • Cameron Erving

This is a tough one, the Saints’ o-line on paper has not been good so far. However, it’s been reported that a good portion of sacks and pressures that the Saints have given up (and there has been plenty of those) are not all down to the o-line. Some are on the QB and RBs. Some even are down to the blocking scheme.

The Saints’ o-line has blown open so big holes in the running game both weeks and looked especially good against a strong Bucs front in Week Two. Erik McCoy has been excellent so far; Peat and Ruiz have looked good in the run game but not so good against the pass. Ramczyk has not been up to his usual standards so far, could the knee injury that sidelined him last year and limited his offseason be hindering him? Possibly.

The Panthers were hoping for a lot more from rookie LT Ikenm Ekwonu who has not had a great start to his rookie campaign, per PFF Ekwonu has surrendered three sacks, and rate him as the 64th rated LT out of a possible 65.

The interior on the other hand seems to have held up well and could be a strength. With the final starter Taylor Moton looking generally solid, as he usually does.

If Ekwonu had started strong, I’d have given this to the Panthers. I think the Saints unit might just be a touch stronger right now, as I expect Ramczyk and the offensive coaching to bounce back. If they don’t, I could see myself being wrong here.

Advantage Saints

Conclusion

The Saints’ offense comes out on top in this one, on paper at least. But if they can’t find any rhythm or improve the execution on offense from the first two weeks, it won’t matter how they look on paper. They just won’t be a good offense.

This is part one, later in the week I will do the same exercise with the defense. So, keep your eyes peeled on Who Dat Hype – Unapologetically Fearless Saints Coverage and my twitter @SaintsReportUK for part two.

Please do follow me on Twitter @SaintsReportUK for more Saints content, retweet the article if you enjoyed it! And let me know your feedback.