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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Why To Watch Even though the Panthers may have saved their season last week, they now face another tough divisional foe in the Saints. The return of Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith elevated the Panthers' offense last week. Look for ...

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Old 09-29-2006, 06:07 PM   #1
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Scouting Report

Why To Watch
Even though the Panthers may have saved their season last week, they now face another tough divisional foe in the Saints. The return of Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith elevated the Panthers' offense last week. Look for Saints defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs to focus on stopping the Panthers' power running game and RB DeShaun Foster. However, the Panthers will try and expose the Saints' secondary with quick, underneath crossing routes to wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Drew Carter, while attacking vertically down the field to Smith.

Saints head coach Sean Payton will rely on his passing attack to set up the run with RB Deuce McAllister. The Saints love to spread the field with RB Reggie Bush to create individual mismatches they can attack and exploit in certain situations. The key for Carolina defensively will be geared on stopping the Saints' running game with its front seven and attacking the Saints' protections schemes with pressures packages in third down-situations.

When the Saints have the ball
Rushing: By the spreading the field and keeping the Panthers off balance with their high-percentage passing attack, the Saints will force the Panthers to align with seven or six defenders in the box and create more spacing between the tackles for McAllister. The Saints' interior offensive line led by LG Jamar Nesbit, OC Jeff Faine and rookie RG Jahri Evans will have a hard time in their individual matchups against Panthers RDT Kris Jenkins and LDT Maake Kemoeatu.
The Panthers reshuffled their linebacker corps last week to give them more experience by moving WLB Chris Draft to the middle and inserting Na'il Diggs at WLB. Draft had a very productive game, along with SLB Thomas Davis in limiting the Buccaneers' rushing attack to 64 yards. Look for defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac to incorporate more seven-man fronts and attack with more run blitzes to disrupt the Saints' blocking patterns.

Passing: Again, look for the Saints to spread the field and attack with their short, controlled passing attack to set up their running game. The Saints will have to incorporate more two-tight end packages to match up on the outside vs. the Panthers' explosive pass rush led by LDE Julius Peppers and RDE Mike Rucker. However, one of the major keys in this area will be the offensive line's ability to keep QB Drew Brees upright in the pocket. The Saints will need to get into rhythm on early downs to avoid third-and-long situations. Brees can cause a lot of problems on the backend with his ability to see the field and react to vacated areas off zone blitz pressures.

The Panthers have a very good secondary and the Saints will look to exploit either Reggie Howard or Richard Marshall in passing situations. Trgovac is very good at making in-game adjustments that involve his coverage schemes. Look for the Panthers to play a lot of match-up zones in the middle of the field, which should take away either Joe Horn or Bush on underneath crossing routes and force Bress to attack outside the numbers. Also, look for the Panthers to attack with their single-zone pressures, while dropping Peppers in the curl to flat areas to confuse Brees.

When the Panthers have the ball
Rushing: Led by Foster's 82 yards, the Panthers had a decent day rushing last week, finishing with 101 yards on 28 carries, a 3.6-yard average. Offensive coordinator Dan Henning will incorporate a lot of "Power Bob-O" plays Foster and attack downhill between the tackles to set up the passing attack. The Saints do a lot of rotation among their front seven in order to keep their defenders fresh throughout the game. Look for the Saints to continue to attack up-field gaps with their front seven in order to disrupt the Panthers' blocking patterns.

The Panthers' offensive line has struggled with injuries and consistency in the first three weeks. So, look for Gibbs to incorporate more run blitzes to allow his front seven to be active and aggressive, while playing a lot of umbrella coverage on the backend to eliminate the explosive vertical plays in the passing game off play-action.

Passing: QB Jake Delhomme completed 22 of 36 passes for 272 yards and threw his first touchdown pass of the season against the Buccaneers in Week 3. As expected, the passing game came alive with the return of Smith, who caught seven passes for a game-high 112 yards. With back in the lineup, the Saints will now be forced to pay heavy attention to his side of the field, which should open up more chances for receivers Johnson, Carter and Foster.

Defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and his Saints secondary will have their hands full in finding ways to contain Smith. The Saints have two outstanding pass rushers in LDE Charles Grant and RDE Will Smith who must create pressure off the edge that helps out their coverage schemes on the backend. Look for Gibbs to incorporate a design that puts a corner and safety on Smith on all times on pass downs. The Saints will try and force the Panthers to become a one-dimensional team that attacks through the air, which gives the Saints a better matchup in nickel situations based on their personnel. Also, look for the Saints to try and be more physical on the outside with their corners, while rotating their coverage schemes on the backend towards Smith.

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