The old saying rings true with the Saints first victory of the 2014 season, a win is a win. I know things didn’t look pretty especially the 2nd & 3rd quarter, but there are a lot of positives to take away from this game. First and foremost I finally get to do the Grind Factor–Minnesota at New Orleans without a black cloud hanging over my head like it has been the last two weeks. Film study is much more enjoyable with a win. Heck I haven’t been able to do that since January and believe me it is a welcome relief. I’m sure anyone who does it would agree.
Second, I thought the Saints defense got more pressure this week than last week. And they got more than the week before. There is progression on that front. While both of Minnesota’s quarterbacks did make plays, they where hurried often. The Saints defense limited the Vikings to 247 total yards and 13 1st downs, but the key stat to me was the defense was holding Minnesota to under 50% on 3rd down with them only converting 6 of 15 tries.
Third–and this is the most importan–the Saints defense was outstanding in the red zone all day, and anytime you can keep an NFL team out of the end zone it is a good day. I don’t care who you are playing. This brings us to my focus on the Grind Factor this week, yes there was other key factors like them Josh Hill or Marques Colston touchdowns heck one can argue that the roughing the passer penalty was the biggest play in the game but to me it was the ability of the Saints defense to buckle down in the red zone, so with that being said, let’s take a look at it.
The Vikings have the ball at the Saints 12 yard line 1st and 10 with 14:56 left in the 2nd quarter
On this play the Saints are looking for the run as they stack eight in the box which leaves Keenan Lewis one on one with Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson with no safety help. This play was doomed from the start because Junior Galette completely fakes out left tackle Matt Kalil and is barely touched as he hammers Matt Cassel.
The design of the play was a play action to bring everybody in to exploit the one on one outside match up, beside Galette abusing the left tackle this play had problems because as I wrote last Saturday on my Cordarrelle Patterson Breakdown, he has trouble getting off press coverage and freeing himself from the DB jamming him which Lewis does a great job of on this play as seen in the screen shots below.
After a second down incompletion the Vikings are facing 3rd and 10 from the Saints 12 yard line. The Saints stack the right side of the line with Junior Galette, Glenn Foster, Tyrunn Walker and Curtis Lofton. To their left standing up is Kenny Vacarro and Cameron Jordan, the Saints send all of them except Vacarro who is left to cover the tight end.
Again Junior Galette gets great pressure from the outside but what also makes this play work is Tyrunn Walker who draws a double team and pushes Vikings center John Sullivan some five yards into the backfield (the guard came over to help also), Rev Deuce Windham from the radio show Who Dat Confessional hammered the importance of that inside push last week in a great breakdown you can see HERE and he’s right, with the pressure coming from the outside it is key to get a push up the middle so the QB has no good place to go. Also Jordan (I think) was supposed to chip the tight end before releasing him to Vacarro but he destroys him and shoves him to the turf before rushing the passer as seen below.
The end result is a five yard gain and a quarterback with a broken foot – up next another red zone stop.
The Vikings have the ball 1st and goal at the Saints 7 yard line with 8:29 to go in the half
This first play is a coverage sack with a little clumsiness mixed in (it should be noted that Bridgewater had an audible on the play) Everyone is covered and Junior Galette gets push towards the inside forcing Bridgewater to roll to his left in which he tripped over left tackle Matt Kalil’s foot, I’m thinking Bridgewater would have run if he had not tripped instead Galette gets a cheap sack as seen below.
Now Minnesota has the ball on the 15 yard line second and goal. The Viking will try a little swing pass to running back Matt Asiata, below is the formation and the wide receiver routes (note WR Jarius Wright chips Galette before his route)
This is really a great play by both Curtis Lofton and Junior Galette, Lofton reads Bridgewater perfectly, releases from his block and goes straight for Asiata, Galette does the same after getting that pesky wide receiver out-of-the-way. The result is Asiata is thrown for a five yard loss as seen in the two shots below.
After that play with the Vikings now face 3rd and goal from their 20 yard line – they play it safe and hand the ball off to Asiata who gains 8 yards.
The Vikings have the ball at the Saints 27 yard line 1st and 10 with 11:55 left in the 3rd quarter
Okay it’s not the red zone but close enough, below you can see once again the Saints are daring the Vikings to throw it down the field with eight in the box with single coverage in a cover one (notice Galette and Jordan together on the left)
After a 7 yard completion to Greg Jennings the Vikings are facing a 3rd and 5, in the screen shots below you can see what a great job Curtis Lofton does on this play. First the Saints give a stacked line blitz look but right at the snap Lofton and Ramon Humber drop back into zone coverage. Matt Asiata comes out of the backfield for a short pass over the middle for what would have been short of a 1st down anyways but Lofton reads it and de-cleats him right as the ball arrived. One of Lofton’s biggest weaknesses is pass coverage even dating back to his playing days with Atlanta he has had trouble with it….not this time as he lays the remember me shot on Asiata.
Two trips to the red zone and one trip to the near red zone and Minnesota came away with nine points, that’s a pretty good day at the office in my opinion. Overall I seen the Saints make strides in this game, Rob Ryan was aggressive with his play calling through out and played a lot of man press coverage and to be honest I thought Corey White had an outstanding game on the outside as did Keenan Lewis.
With that being said the Vikings didn’t dig deep into their playbook with the rookie under center, they kept it pretty simple. This Sunday night will be a different story with the Cowboys high-powered offense and I really think that it will be a truer measuring stick on how far this defense has progressed. Well that’s it for this week’s Grind Factor, it’s been a long time since I have been able to do one of these after a victory and it feels good so let’s keep it going another week and to that I say, as always…..WHO DAT!