5 keys to victory for the Carolina Panthers vs. Saints in Week 2

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Joe Brady
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Joe Brady /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Carolina Panthers improve red-zone efficiency

Red zone, red zone, red zone. I will keep hammering this point home until someone listens or I can no longer write.

No team, no matter how talented, can survive very long on a 1-4 touchdown to red zone ratio. What separates the top tier from the mediocre is the ability to get the yards when it matters.

Plenty of quarterbacks can throw for hundreds of yards, but that is all meaningless if you can’t get those last few at the end.

This isn’t a new issue for the Carolina Panthers, either. They were one of the worst at this last season and those struggles seem to have crept into the Sam Darnold era as well if the preseason and Week 1 are any indication.

To Darnold’s credit, one of those empty trips wasn’t his fault as Giovanni Ricci knocked the ball from his grasp before the handoff.

However, that is no excuse for the inability of anyone on this team not named Christian McCaffrey to win and make game-changing plays on a regular basis.

Being the best running back in the league means that you make those plays often, but even the best at their position can’t do it alone. This is why fans were hype at the selection of Terrace Marshall Jr.

Marshall was brought in, along with Dan Arnold, to be those red zone nightmares that could go up and win when it mattered. This hasn’t exactly been the case as that tandem combined for only 32 total yards in Week 1 with neither hauling in a touchdown.

This simply will not be enough to come away with a win on Sunday.

Touchdowns win games, it’s as simple as that. ‘Defense wins championships’ may be an overused statement that has some merit, but if the offense can’t score then even the most talented defense will lose every time.

This was ever apparent in the New Orleans Saints’ opening game where the Green Bay Packers were held to an early field goal and never truly recovered.

That’s what this team is in danger of becoming and the Panthers need to reverse this trend quickly or it will be another season of frustrating losses ahead.