4 big-time matchups to watch during Panthers vs. Saints in Week 2

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

Saints 2 deep cover vs. Carolina Panthers heavy receiver sets.

Defenses come in many shapes and sizes but no scheme is perfect and they all have a weakness somewhere, it’s just finding it that’s the issue.

One good thing for the Carolina Panthers going into their game against the Saints is that the Jets ran a very similar 2 deep scheme. Now the level of talent is obviously different both from a coaching and player perspective, however, it’s still useful practice.

The kind of 2 deep looks that the Saints use is similar to a Cover 2 where you have two deep safeties and you are in zone coverage where players have a section of field to cover rather than a specific man.

The main reason for a base Cover 2 is to leave extra bodies in the box while also, hopefully, preventing the big play down the field. A kind of “we’re good either way” approach that isn’t great at stopping one or the other but is passable at both.

The problem with this is the very thing that makes people use it, it’s not specialized, not committed to stopping one or the other.

But how do the Panthers go about doing what the Packers couldn’t?

One area of weakness sometimes becomes a strength and that’s just what happens with the Panthers’ lack of size at wide receiver. When a team wants to beat a zone they attack seams and use clever route running to gain separation so that size is no longer a factor.

And that’s just what Carolina’s wideouts are built around.

Robby Anderson showed this perfectly on his touchdown reception, running up the seam between the two zones and getting behind both defenders.

Another advantage the Panthers have is the sheer amount of targets and weapons that have to be accounted for.

Let’s say that Dan Arnold runs a shallow route from the right side of the line over to the left and Anderson runs a simple go route at the corner. With both players moving to the outside edges of their zones a hole opens up for Christian McCaffrey to slip into, and if not, then one of the other two will be open.

Hence why McCaffrey is a matchup nightmare.

Now, this won’t work every time.

However, it’s a simple example of how you can beat this type of defense.

With the kind of route running masters that the Panthers can tap into, it could end up looking quite different for the Saints come Sunday.