5 key observations from Sam Darnold’s performance vs. Saints in Week 2

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

7. 15. 26. 87. Final

What were some key observations to emerge from Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold’s performance against the New Orleans Saints in Week 2?

If last weekend’s game against the New York Jets was a bedding-in period for Sam Darnold, then what lay ahead for the Carolina Panthers quarterback in Week 2 was a much sterner test. Sunday’s game versus the New Orleans Saints was set to be the first real challenge of the campaign for Matt Rhule’s men in a key NFC South divisional matchup.

Darnold made an encouraging start to life with the Panthers and continued this in Week 2. He got out on the front foot and never looked back as the home side came away with their second-straight triumph to start the campaign and leave many wondering just what they can accomplish in 2021.

There is a long way to go. But the positive signs are there for all to see and Darnold’s played a significant role so far.

With this in mind, here are five key observations from Darnold’s performance in Carolina’s deserved victory over the Saints.

Key Observation No. 1

Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

An unbelievable first drive for Sam Darnold

If the Panthers wanted Sam Darnold to set the tone early, they got their wish. Carolina made their intentions clear from the first snap, going 75 yards in just five yards during an opening drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Brandon Zylstra.


Darnold was nothing short of sensational right out of the gate, which coincided with the protection giving him plenty of time to go through his progressions.

This got the Bank of America Stadium crowd right into it early, too. Another big factor that was of critical importance.