4 ways the Panthers can help Sam Darnold vs. the Saints in Week 2

(Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Bolder play-calling will help Sam Darnold

Things were a little conservative from a play-calling point of view for the Carolina Panthers in Week 1. Not entirely unexpected with a new quarterback, a patchwork offensive line, and inferior opposition.

However, offensive coordinator Joe Brady needs to loosen the shackles this weekend.

The New Orleans Saints are a strong defensive unit. But they are missing a stud pass-rusher in Marcus Davenport and top cornerback Marshon Lattimore is also going to be absent for a few weeks.

If the Panthers and Sam Darnold were looking for additional motivation, this is it.

Much will depend on whether the protection holds up in the face of some sustained pressure coming their way. But being a bit more expressive from a scheme standpoint might be the smart way to go.

Darnold has sneaky athleticism and a cannon for an arm. The short to intermediate routes will be his bread and butter, so to speak, which should allow the signal-caller to take the odd risk if it’s safe to do so.

This bears more significance in the red zone, where poor execution and suspect play-calling denied the Panthers an insurmountable lead at the halftime break. With another week to prepare and Brady knowing plenty about the Saints and how they operate, expect to see some not-so-subtle changes to the scheme.

It could go either way, in all honesty. But this is a good time to see if Darnold can cope with more responsibility from a creative point of view.