Saints vs Dallas

The Grind Factor: New Orleans at Dallas

Long time Saints announcer Jim Henderson famously coined the phrase ” the pigs have flown” during the 2009 season. Well it took six years but they have finally landed, right back where they took off from, the Saints facility on Airline drive. There is an aura of ugly exuding from Saints camp right now and I’m not sure there is any quick fix for it any time soon.

I don’t even know where to begin, there are not enough fingers on my hands to point to all the problems on this team right now.

Because the amount of time I do with training camp, film breakdown and other research I have become pretty numb to the up and downs of a season but this was different. It was such an absolute breakdown on every level of that franchise that I had a sick feeling in my gut that I haven’t felt since Gregg Williams blew the playoff game against San Francisco in 2011. I get it that is was a completely different scenario but the punch to the gut felt the same because I know that this team has no edge, no sense of urgency, no sense of the attacking mentality and no sense of leadership.

The offense making mistakes (interceptions, dropped passes, QB protection), the defense can’t stop anybody (horrible tackling, D line getting pushed around, predictable coverages), the special teams were once again horrible (missed field goals, terrible fake punt)  and the coaching was ridiculous at times (Payton out thinks himself and is stubborn to a fault). Usually in the Grind Factor I try to take a few plays here and there that turned the game one way or the other but this one was so lopsided that there really was no turning point at all. So since it was such a complete team meltdown, I will take one play from the offense, defense and special teams to illustrate how bad it was.

The Offense

Okay my mini rant is over, this first play I’m going to show you although it may not seem like much, I think it’s significant. At this point the Saints were still in the game only down 7-0 and having forced Dallas to punt they put together a nice drive down to the Dallas thirty yard line.

The Saints have the ball at 3rd and 9 at the Cowboys 30 yard line with 9:59 to go in the second quarter

Below is the routes the Saints are running with Brandin Cooks going deep and taking the safety with him, Jimmy Graham does an intermediate crossing route, Robert Meachem a deep crossing route and Benjamin Watson with an underneath slant close to the line of scrimmage. My thinking here is Brees had two options, first he had Graham one on one with a corner back and no safety or linebacker help, second they thought they could slip Watson underneath like they have in previous games where he was wide open, not this time though due to a heads up play by Dallas FS Barry Church. For anybody questioning the lack of deep balls from the Saints this season, this is a good example, it’s hard when a defense is playing two deep safeties all the time.

3RD Down 1

In the screen shots below you can see everyone is covered but Watson, I think if Brees would maybe have tried to get it to Graham because of his size in the one one match up with Dallas CB Orlando Scandrick but he didn’t have time because Jonathan Goodwin was beat by DT Henry Melton and Zach Strief was beat by DE Jack Crawford.

3rd down 2

3RD Down 3

This is the end result (below), Watson comes up a yard and a half short of the first down. I have to tip my hat to Church though, he made a great play. The Saints would attempt a field goal after this play only to have Shayne Graham miss, The game snowballed after this and the Saints wouldn’t get anything going until the 4th quarter.

3rd down 4

The Defense

Dallas has the ball 1st and 10 at the Saints 28 yard line with 7:16 left to go in the 3rd quarter

In the screen shot below in what looks to be a simple hand off to DeMarco Murray where he kicks it to the outside is anything but. In the red arrow is Ramon Humber (on the outside) and Curtis Lofton, as the play develops Humber over pursues to the outside.

murray run 1The run was a cut back by design with Dallas center Travis Frederick taking out Cutis Lofton, notice the over pursue by Humber in the shot below.

murray run 2

The key to this play was the Saints lined up Junior Galette and Cameron Jordon together on the right side of the line (which they have a few times this year) and Dallas runs right at them. Below look at the size of the hole that is created and now with Lofton being pushed out of the way Murray has nothing but day light in front of him.

murray run 3Now there is only one man to beat and that’s Jaruis Byrd, in which Byrd over pursues and Murray cuts back to go untouched into the end zone. Five key players on defense, Lofton, Humber, Galette, Jordan and Byrd all missed their assignments which led to a surprisingly easy touchdown.

murray run 4

 Special Teams

And now this little gem, the worst fake punt in the history of mankind. In the screen shot below is the pre-snap alignment, with Travaris Cadet‘s reverse and Josh Hill‘s route. But notice the Dallas players I have highlighted relaying their fake punt signals, The Cowboys read this like a book, heck everyone in the stadium or watching at home on TV knew what was coming.

fake punt 1

After a painstakingly slow fake reverse Thomas Morstead rolls to his right but of course Josh Hill is tightly covered, notice all the Dallas players on that side of the field and all the Saints player on the other side. Also notice the Dallas player by the 40 yard line, he’s not going after Morstead, he’s just there to contain as seen below.

fake punt 2

The play was doomed from the start but there was one other option, Vinnie Sunseri (who was lined up as a blocker in the backfield) was open as seen below waving his arms around but it was too late because at this point Morstead is just trying not to get killed.

fake punt 3

Well that’s it for this weeks the Grind Factor: New Orleans at Dallas let’s hope this Sunday we get some better results.To be honest I could have took any of the Saints defensive plays, put them on a list, taped them to a wall and thrown darts at them and I could have come up with something to write for this article, it was that bad.

A bad Tampa Bay football team comes to the Dome Sunday and the Saints should win but to me they could win 100 – 0 and it wouldn’t mean anything to me. Starting after their bye week things get really tough, this is when we are going to see if the Saints can turn this train wreck around. I think they can, but they better use that bye week to figure out how to get their heads out of their butts or it will indeed be a long season and to that I say, as always….WHO DAT!