Welcome back Saints offense it’s been a long time coming and not a moment too soon. What a performance Sunday night! If this offense has finally found its groove I see no reason why the Saints can’t go on a run. Defensively this was a classic bend but don’t break game even though it didn’t feel like it from the onset with the 70 yard Randall Cobb touchdown. But the defense rebounded and came up with 3 turnovers, 4 sacks and a crucial 4th down stop. Offensively Drew Brees was sharp and had a great pocket to work with most of the game, hats off to the offensive line. Mark Ingram continues to impress, he ran with great vision and power. Obviously this was the best the Saints have played all year so I’m going to do a first for the Grind Factor, hand out game balls:
- Mark Ingram ~ Ingram is having his best year as a Saint, he was outstanding Sunday night racking up 172 yards on 24 carries for an eye-popping 7.2 yards per carry and a score.
- Drew Brees ~ Brees has really started to come on the last two games maybe there was a lingering problem with the injury that kept him out most of the preseason. Since the bye he’s really played well (except for the late pick in the Detroit game) Sunday night he was 27 of 32 for 311 yards and 3 TD’s
- Cameron Jordan ~ Jordan had his best game of the year racking up 2 sacks and was a force in the run game with a couple of tackles for loss.
- Corey White ~ I’m glad White has a short memory because he rebounded well after the disaster in Detroit–his pass breakup in the end zone that led to the David Hawthorne interception was the play of the game in my opinion. White also added an interception for himself later in the game. His performance Sunday night can only help his confidence going forward.
- Kasim Edebali ~ The young undrafted rookie out of Boston College was a force getting his first two NFL sacks, This young man has a bright future in the Black and Gold, and he’s still learning.
- Brandin Cooks ~ Cooks shone after dropping a perfectly thrown deep ball, hauling in 6 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown for a 15.7 yard average (he also added a rushing touchdown). His 50 yard 3rd quarter touchdown grab is what Saints fans have been waiting for since the Saints traded up to draft him. I do think it was a direct effect of the Saints killing Green Bay with the run–they had to creep their safeties up and slept on Cooks.
Okay back to our regular scheduled program, this game had so many plays to choose from for this article, especially the 2nd half. I decided on four, one defensive and three offensive but truth be told I felt like highlighting the offensive line. But, after some thought, I figured it was a team win so I’m going with the game changing David Hawthorne interception, the two Drew Brees bombs and, of course, the Mark Ingram game sealing touchdown.
The Saints have the ball 1st and 10 at the Packers 49 yard line with 10:08 left in the 1st quarter
This is the first in what would be many big plays on both sides of the ball. It’s a simple play action pass to Kenny Stills who runs a seam go route. Below are the routes run and the key personnel groupings.
The Saints draw up the perfect play against the Packers cover two defense (the two safeties take half the field while the linebackers drop into zone coverage). The linebackers come up to help with Marques Colston, and Mark Ingram and Brandin Cooks find the opening in the soft zone. Packers FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is in a tough spot here, because of the linebacker on his side didn’t drop back deep enough he has to come up and help with Cooks who was wide open which leaves Kenny Stills one on one with CB Devon House who replaced an injured Sam Shields. Below is a screen shot of the play unfolding.
This was a really good read by Brees (he also had Clay Matthews breathing down his neck) because as soon as he sees Clinton-Dix break towards Cooks he knew he had one on one coverage on the outside and let it rip. All that’s left now is for Stills to beat his man who he does with ease. Below is the end result – a 45 yard completion down to the Packers 4 yard line.
The Packers have the ball 3rd and goal at the Saints 5 yard line with 7:46 left in the 3rd quarter
This is the David Hawthorne interception. To me, this is the biggest play of the game. It swung everything in the Saints favor, and they never looked back. At this point it was a tie game which could go either way so instead of the Packers going up by three or seven, the Saints take the turnover and go 88 yards in four plays to go up by seven. Corey White has taken much criticism for his play of late and some of it is deserved but his deflection of the Aaron Rodgers pass intended for TE Andrew Quarless was textbook timing and execution. Hawthorne just makes a great hustle play. There’s really not much more to the play than this so below is three screen shots of it happening.
The Saints have the ball 2nd and 1 at midfield with 6:11 left in the 3rd quarter
This play is like a dagger for the Packers. It feels like it almost broke their will coming on the heels of the Hawthorne interception. The Saints go in a run heavy formation with two tight ends and a fullback with one receiver split out right (Brandin Cooks). Below is a pre-snap screen shot of the play, notice FS Micah Hyde spying the backfield.
By the time Hyde realized it was a pass it was too late. Brandin Cooks one-on-one with Packers CB Tramon Williams is a mismatch. It was simply a pitch and catch after that–notice the Packers selling out to the run, below are two screen shots of the results.
The Saints have the ball 2nd and 12 at the Packers 21 yard line with 3:24 left in the game
Green Bay is in desperation mode at this point having just tried a failed Mason Crosby on sides kick. The Saints give the Packers a big ole dose of Mark Ingram rushing him five straight times. On this 21-yard touchdown run the Saints go with a three tight end, one back run heavy set with the lone wide out (Cooks) split out left. Below is the pre-snap look.
The play was designed to go behind the tight ends with Armstead sealing the edge (heck Graham even got in the way with his block), but LB Sam Barrington, CB Devon House and FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix were waiting for this (in the triangle) What Ingram did was simply kick it outside with one man to beat.
Now it’s just up to Ingram to beat Devon House to the end zone, which he does with ease as shown in the two screen shots below. I know that the Packers defense had put up the white flags at this point but it doesn’t take away from Ingram quickly reading the defense and bouncing it outside.
Well, that’s it for this week’s The Grind Factor: Green Bay at New Orleans it was joy to do…finally. The Saints have a quick turn around coming up, the question remains ~ can they take the momentum of this victory and translate it to something more? I think so. I truly think the Saints are better than Carolina. I just think from a talent stand point, personnel stand point and a coaching stand point they have the edge but when talking with my colleague Who Dat Warriors writer Deuce Whindham’s radio show Who Dat Confesional it’s all about not making game changing mistakes on the road. Let’s hope the offensive line is up to the task and to that I say as always….WHO DAT !!!