Saints fall to 0-2 as Panthers remember they’re a running team


Not only do the Saints miss suspended coach Sean Payton.

They need to give him a raise when he comes back.

The Saints fell to 0-2 with a 35-27 loss at Carolina, losing steam on offense and looking like a disorganized mess on defense.

An early lead was squandered, and the Saints had a hard time protecting quarterback Drew Brees. He took a number of hard shots throughout the day, and the Panthers aren’t particularly good at rushing the passer.

What they are good at is running the ball, and they got back to that after finishing with just 10 rushing yards and 10 points in last week’s loss to the Buccaneers.

They welcomed Jonathan Stewart back to the lineup, but more than any person, the Panthers got their philosophy back. They ran it 41 times against 20 pass attempts, the kind of ratio they needed to get their season back in balance. When they threw they gained yards in chunks, with Steve Smith catching three passes for 104 yards. Cam Newton threw for 253 yards and a touchdown, and had 13 carries for 71 yards and a score.

But as much as those were welcome numbers for the 1-1 Panthers a red flag for the Saints, who have now given up 75 points in two games.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is a better coach than he’s shown, and may not have the personnel to run his scheme. He wants to generate all his pressure with his front four, but he doesn’t have rushers like he had with the Giants. They also have serious tackling issues in the back seven, and need to get them fixed, quickly.