A couple of week ago I said patience would be key while watching this team, growing pains at times would be hard to watch. To be honest with you I’m enjoying watching these young players growing up on the field right in front of our eyes. By no mean am I saying this team has arrived, far from it but this rookie class had suffered 7 straight defeats heading into Sunday night’s game and it can only help with their confidence going forward.
I know it’s early but this rookie class has a chance to be one of the best under Sean Payton’s watch. Not only are the rookies seeing a lot of playing time, they are making an impact. Sky’s the limit for this group and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that this nucleus of Stephone Anthony, Hau’oli Kikaha, Tyeler Davison, Damian Swann and Bobby Richardson will be heavily leaned on by the Saints in the years to comes.
You have to start somewhere and what a way to get the win with a perfect call against a depleted defense with a wheel route to burner CJ Spiller for 80 yards. This game was a see-saw battle all night long with the defense coming up with some huge plays throughout, so with a nod to the defense I’m going to focus on the young guns on that side of the ball for this edition of the Grind Factor.
The Cowboys have the ball 1st & 10 from their 41 yard line with 3:59 to go in the 1st half
This play gives a shout out to MLB Stephone Anthony, it only results in a no gain for Dallas RB Darren McFadden but is was the read and react from Anthony that I love about this play. The Saints are in a 4-3 front in cover one with Vacarro in the box for run support (Kikaha is out the picture to the left)
This play is a staple in the Dallas run game where they pull an offensive lineman, in this case right guard Zach Matin plus TE James Harris goes in motion and sets up in the backfield as a blocking back, below is a pre-snap screen shot of the play.
When the play starts to develop Anthony reads the play perfectly and hits the right gap. One of my concerns with Anthony looking at his film coming out of Clemson was at times he was over aggressive and would hit the wrong gap at 100 MPH. Not this time, he is patient enough to let Davis Hawthorne and Kenny Vacarro take the blocks and then hit the running lane as seen in the two screen shots below. Coach Payton says he rarely makes the same mistake twice, you can tell film study and the game slowing down for him is paying dividends in his young career.
Dallas has the ball 2nd & 10 from their 45 yard line with 41 seconds left in the half
Stephone Anthony gets the sack on this one but it’s the creative pressure that Rob Ryan dials up that makes this work, well that and the players executing it perfectly. This is a really odd formation, I guess you can call it a 3-2-6 defense. Below is the personnel the Saints are using and the routes ran, notice Damian Swan is playing safety, he’s done that a few times this year.
The Saints are going to stunt and bring six, first Kenny Vacarro is going to blitz off the edge and Swann picks up his man. At the same time Kasim Edebali comes behind Tyeler Davison and hits the opposite A gap while Stephone Anthony also stunts and gets behind the defensive front untouched as seen in the screen shots below.
This play happens so fast that Brandon Weeden really didn’t have a chance, Vacarro almost took his head off and by time he recovered all he could do was try and duck out of the way for the Anthony hit – it’s a good thing Because Browner’s man was open on that side of the play (notice beyond the 1st down marker)
The Cowboys have the ball 3rd and goal from the Saints 9 yard line with 9:06 left in the 3rd quarter
This sack by Hau’oli Kikaha on a crucial 3rd and goal is a thing of beauty, big time players make big time plays and this is one of them.
Kikaha beats all pro Dallas left tackle Tyron Smith like a drum on this play and not only that, he fights through a Joseph Randle chip block to bring down Brandon Weeden for an 11 yard loss as seen in the three screen shots below. Also notice Brandon Browner giving the business to Dallas TE Jason Witten and Dannell Ellerbe helping with the double coverage on the goal line situation, it’s good to see this after Carolina’s Greg Olsen owned the Saints in the red zone last week.
This next play is a good example of how this defense is light years ahead of last years defense, sure they make mistakes but the effort is always 110%. With the Saints clinging to a seven point lead with under 7 minutes to play the Cowboys are faced with a crucial third and one.
When people were questioning the Akiem Hicks trade (I’m looking at you Cam Jordan) this play is why he became trade bait and the staff put their trust in rookie Bobby Richardson. Dallas with their heralded offensive line go with a overloaded run heavy look to the right side of the line of scrimmage as seen below.
When the play get underway tight end Jason Witten is going to crash down on Bobby Richardson while Brandon Browner comes up for run support. Browner has come under a lot of heat from Saints fans lately but this is a good example of his toughness and why the Saints brought him in.
Richardson reads this play perfectly and does a spin move away from Witten and right into the gap that was RB Joseph Randle’s running lane, at the same time Browner comes in and hits Randle at the same time that Richardson hits him resulting in a one yard loss as seen in the screen shots below.
Well that’s a wrap for this weeks Grind Factor, I finally got to do one after a win – Hallelujah! I was tempted to show some love for the Tyeler Davison 1st NFL sack where he basically breathed on Weeden and he fell down but this piece has been long enough already. So with the Saints getting their first victory and myself getting the satisfaction of watching Cowboy’s fans leaving the Dome in shock and disgust – I leave you with this….WHO DAT!!!