Jim Henderson / Eyewitness Sports Director
NEW ORLEANS -- When John Fox was the head coach of the Carolina Panthers you were quite certain what kind of game you'd be involved in.
Low scoring. He would rely on a stout defense against the run, would run the ball persistently himself, would rely on winning the special teams battle, and would ask his quarterback to manage a conservative passing attack to win the turnover battle as well.
How things have changed now that Fox is in Denver and Ron Rivera is on the Panthers sideline.
This Panthers team throws the ball enough to be third in the NFL, while averaging 105 yards rushing, 17th in the NFL. The Panthers have allowed two straight runners to gain 100 yards against them and are 31st against the run. Matt Forte had a career-high 205 yards rushing against them last week after gaining two yards the week before against Green Bay.
Their special teams have been abysmal, especially covering punts, where they've allowed two long punt return touchdowns. Their own return game has been lack-luster. Longest punt return has been 14 yards, longest kick-off return 31.
Fox asked Jimmy Clausen last year not to get the Panthers beaten. Ron Rivera asks Cam Newton to win the game, and he's averaging 347 yards passing per game, third in the NFL. But he has also thrown three crucial interceptions in the Panthers' three losses. Carolina is -2 in turnover differential.
Much has changed for this Carolina Panthers team. But one thing hasn't: they're still losing and bringing up the rear in the NFC South at 1-3. It won't always be such. The Saints need to take advantage of them while it still is.