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New Orleans Saints defense aiming to stunt growth of Carolina quarterback Bryce Young

'You can tell on tape that he's very poised and under control'

Check out the game action from the New Orleans Saints game against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season.
Check out the game action from the New Orleans Saints game against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season.

New Orleans' expectation is that Carolina rookie quarterback Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall draft pick, will have a performance jump from Week 1 to Week 2, with the latter occurring Monday night at Bank of America Stadium, when New Orleans (1-0) faces the Panthers (0-1).

The Saints simply are seeking to, at worst, confine the jump to the bare minimum or, at best, force him to regress a bit.

In his NFL debut against Atlanta, a 24-10 Falcons victory, Young completed 20 of 38 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown, and was intercepted twice and sacked twice.

Meanwhile, the Saints are coming off one of their best games against the pass, holding Tennessee's Ryan Tannehill to 198 passing yards on 16 of 34 passing, with three interceptions, three sacks, 11 passes defensed and 10 quarterback hits in their 16-15 win.

Duplicating that kind of success, or nearing the neighborhood, will go a long way toward the defense having a successful night.

"You can tell that this guy is smart, you can tell that he understands what he's doing back there in terms of getting through his progressions," Saints Coach Dennis Allen said of Young. "I thought (the Falcons) kind of got him a little bit with a couple of looks that he felt like, they were middle-of-the-field closed and yet that safety was kind of cheating on the back side and kind of baited him into a couple of throws.

"Obviously, that's something he'll learn from and be better at. But the one thing that you see is you see a quick release and you see a guy that goes through his progressions. You can obviously tell on tape that he's very poised and under control, and never lets a bad play really affect him."

Those were traits Young exhibited at Alabama en route to becoming the top overall pick this year. And they were traits that were displayed, perhaps sparingly, in the season opener.

"I feel like he looks poised in the pocket," said defensive end Cam Jordan, whose half-sack against Tennessee raised his franchise-leading total to 116. "I think Carolina is going to have a gampelan set to make sure that he's confident heading into this game.

"From what we watched in their first game with him, there's times where he looks like a veteran quarterback and there's times where he doesn't. But that has nothing to do with what we want to do. We're trying to impose our will on any offense that we come across, and it's going to be up to us to try to make him uncomfortable in that pocket."

Likely, the Panthers will attempt to relieve pressure on their quarterback with the running game, which was effective against the Falcons.

Carolina ran for 154 yards on 32 carries against Atlanta, with Miles Sanders gaining 72 yards on 18 carries and Chuba Hubbard adding 60 yards on nine carries

"No. 1, I think they did a good job of blocking up front and I thought the runners did a good job with vision and made the right cuts," Allen said. "That's one of the things that I think they do really well, and that's kind of carried over from where they were at the end of last year. They do a really good job of blocking in the run game and I think their backs do a good job of reading it. They put the ball where the ball is supposed to be."

For the Saints' defense, it likely would prefer the ball – and Carolina's offense – fall onto the shoulders of the Panthers' rookie quarterback while he still may be experiencing growing pains.

"You can see he's a smart quarterback, he's very patient in the pocket," defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. "He's an accurate thrower when he gets time, he has good movement skills. He creates a lot if it's not there, so we're going to have to do a good job staying in coverage. He's young, so he's still learning but you can see the talent is there.

"He's impressive. You can tell he's going to be a really good quarterback."

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