I start this Grind Factor with the somber news that Marques Colston has a separated shoulder. Colston was already having a tough season before this latest setback, I just have a gut feeling that it may be over for him in the black and gold. That saddens me that the best Saints receiver in franchise history is only a shell of his former self and this injury probably seals his fate here. Marques Colston was/is a true warrior and is as tough as nails on the field and a well grounded individual off of it, let’s never forget what he has meant to the Saints organization.

Okay on to the game…This game was relatively close until the wheels fell off in the second half but even before that I had an uneasy feeling because the Eagles were moving the ball with ease. I could point a finger here or there but truth be told it was a complete collapse – offense, defense, special teams all played a part in the debacle.

The defense tried their best early on to help the offense with the interceptions by Brandon Browner and Delvin Breaux but throughout the afternoon there were way too many times that Drew Brees and Co. put the defense back on the field and it was just a matter of time before the defense ran out of gas.

A blind man can see that the Saints are toast, there are just too many holes on this roster but they have some young talent to build around so what I want to do is focus on who I think is going to help this team moving forward because lets face it, this core is the nucleus of this rebuild job. Okay lets get started with Delvin Breaux…

The Eagles have the ball 2nd and goal from the 14 yard line with 14:35 left in the 2nd quarter

This play is pretty cut and dry, it’s really just a play action fake with a slant pass to Miles Austin in the end zone. Breaux’s instincts and athletic ability are on full display here, below is a pre-snap view with the routes and the defenders covering them.

BreauxAs the play gets underway Sam Bradford fakes the hand-off which brings Jairus Bryd up for run support (along with Anthony) as seen below.

Breaux 2This leaves Breaux with one on one coverage on the outside, initially Austin gets the leverage and inside break on Breaux but he recovers and makes a great break on the ball as seen in the two screen shots below. I’m not sure anybody on the Saints roster but Breaux could have made this play, Maybe a healthy Lewis but Breaux’s nose for the ball on this interception is one of the few bright spots in dismal game.

Breaux 3Breaux 4

The Saints have the ball 2nd & 11 from the Eagles 29 yard line with 4:32 to go in the half

This is a crucial play right here, the game is tied at seven and this play takes the Saints out of field goal range. The Eagles are going to bring their inside linebacker’s Jordan Hicks and Demeco Ryans on a stunt and Andrus Peat gets Fletcher Cox on the left side. Senio Kelemente is going to pick up Ryans while Mark Ingram picks up Hicks, below is a pre-snap look at the blitz.

Peat 1As the play gets underway the Saints receivers are blanketed by the Eagles coverage, it looked like Brees wanted to take a shot in the end zone to Brandin Cooks. Instead he checks his throw and tried to get out of trouble but it was too late. Below is a screen shot of the Eagles locking down the Saints receivers.

Peat 2Andrus Peat is going to get credited with giving up the sack to Fletcher Cox but it was a combination of coverage and Hicks throwing Ingram to the ground so Brees couldn’t step up when he felt the heat on the outside below is a couple of screen shots of the end result.

Peat 3Peat 4
The Eagles have the ball 3rd & goal from the Saints 3 yard line with 11:11 to go in the game.

At this point the Eagles were up 26-10 and essentially the game was over, the defense was just worn down. As bad as the Saints have played this year, unlike last year, they don’t quit. On this play linebacker Stephone Anthony is a good example of this.

I don’t know if Anthony guessed the snap count or not but he was in the backfield before Eagles right guard Matt Tobin could even get a hand on him. This is the type of play why the Saints drafted him and gave him the starting job a week into camp – Eagles running back Ryan Mathews never had a chance a was thrown for a 5 yard loss.

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The Saints have the ball 3rd & 5 at their 25 yard line with 7:02 to go in the 1st quarter

Before closing this out I have to give a shout out to Willie Snead, he is quietly becoming the Saints top offensive threat. Some might shake their head and think “this is an undrafted guy that couldn’t even make the Browns practice squad but is the Saints top threat?” That mind set is selling Snead way short, he is much, much more than that.

Maybe during the bye week I will have time to go in depth on what he really brings to the table but I can tell you this – there isn’t a pattern on the route tree that he can’t run. You name it he can run it, post, hitch, dig, crossing, fade, out, curl, back shoulder, slant, not only does he run them, he runs them well with great hands. I remember making it a point to watch him closely during mini and training camps and you could just see that he had the makings to be really good.

On the play I’m going to highlight is a staple that Brees loves to use – the back shoulder pass. This is a pure timing pass that takes time to master, Brees loves to use it with Marques Colston and when he was here, Jimmy Graham. This shows you the confidence the staff has in Snead, early in the game facing a 3rd down deep in their territory they pull the trigger on this pass, below is a pre-snap look with the routes ran.

Snead 1In this view below you can see as soon as Brees releases the ball Snead is turning his head at the same time, when this play is executed properly it is one of the hardest for a defensive back to defend, the Saints need to use this more often with Snead.

Snead 2snead 3Well that’s it for this week’s Grind Factor; with Atlanta coming to town tomorrow lets just say I’m preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. I had seen some improvement game to game with this young team until last Sunday when they took three steps back, will this be a permanent setback? I guess we are going to find out soon enough.

The offense really has to start stepping it up to at least give the defense a fighting chance. One thing that this offense was so good at over the years was dictating tempo and when they did that they would impose their will on opposing defenses, I have seen none of that this year, in fact it was the Eagles who controlled the tempo last Sunday. This must change for the Saints to have any hope at success, it needs to start tomorrow night.