A record-setting game for the ages. Say what you want about this 2015 Saints team, one thing they are not and that is boring. What a fun afternoon of football that was. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen this offense click on all cylinders like we did this past Sunday. The defense on the other hand looked to have taken a step back after making some strides the last few weeks.

drew-brees-giants-ledeIt wasn’t all bad for the defense, I thought Kevin Williams played well and they had  more than likely a game-ending Bobby Richardson sack fumble overturned by a penalty that at best was iffy.

Before the game I sat in my car waiting for the rain to calm down a bit before heading over to the dome and remember thinking that I had no clue how this game would turn out and when I walked out of the dome I still didn’t know what hit me.

Drew Brees was dialed in all afternoon, and if this a sign that the offense is returning to the form that we’ve all been accustomed to over the years, then anything is possible with this team.

This game had so many offensive highlights that if I tried to cover them all on here I wouldn’t finish typing until well into next week. Okay let’s get started….

The Saints have the ball 2nd and 9 at the Giants 34 yard line with 7:45 left in the 1st quarter

This play is vintage Sean Payton–not so much the play itself but when it was called–Benjamin Watson had just caught a 1st down pass and the Saints quickly ran a quarterback sneak before Giants coach Tom Coughlin could throw the red flag and challenge the Watson catch. While Coughlin is arguing with the refs, Payton dials up a flea flicker catching the entire Giants defense biting on the run fake to Mark Ingram.

The Giants are in a cover one with everybody expecting a run play, below are the routes run and key personnel.

Snead 1By the time Willie Snead gets by safety Brandon Meriweather with CB Jayron Hosely playing way to far off it’s all over, as Snead and Brandin Cooks are running free down the field putting FS Landin Collins in no man’s land as seen below. Snead actually has to wait for the ball because it was late coming in, probably due to the timing factor of the flea flicker on a relatively short field.

Snead 2Snead 3Snead TDThe Saints have the Ball 1st and 10 at the Giants 26 yard line with 2:51 left to go in the 1st quarter

Throughout this year on the Grind Factor I have been pointing out how Payton has been using the jumbo package (three tight ends or ojne fullback and two tight ends) in run-heavy looks to create mismatch isolations in the passing game. This is another one of those plays that pays off. Oddly enough this play was designed to be run all the way until Brees “killed” the play at the line of scrimmage.

The reason Brees called the audible was because he had seen ten players up to stop the run with Brandin Cooks isolated out wide left.

Cooks 1One key also for this play was when Benjamin Watson ran his route he took free safety Landin Collins with him essentially clearing the middle of the field. All Cooks has to do is beat his man which he does with ease, and it’s as simple as pitch and catch slant pass to the end zone as seen in the screen shots below.

Cooks 2Cooks 3Cooks 4The Saints have the ball 2nd and 10 at the Giants 26 yard line with 10:14 left in the 3rd quarter

This is the second Brandin Cooks touchdown, this is a timing play all the way. The Saints are going to spread them out with five wide and a single back look. Below is a pre-snap look at the key personnel and the route run.

Cooks TD 1The Giants actually play the defense correctly and have good coverage on Cooks but Brees throws a perfect pass that was all but impossible to defend.

Giants cornerback Trumain McBride has the coverage on Cooks while Jayrod Hosley has the coverage on Wille Snead. When Snead does a little hitch route, Hosely correctly releases from Snead and peels off to help McBride with the coverage on Cooks. Brees dropped it right between the two and into Brandin Cooks breadbasket as seen in the screen shots below.

Cooks TD 2Cooks TD 3

The Giants have the ball 3rd and 6 from the Saints 33 yard line with 14 minutes to go in the game ~ the Saints are leading 42 to 28

This is the Bobby Richardson sack/strip/fumble that got called back because of a holding penalty against Delvin Breaux. I’m with coach Payton on this–it was a terrible call at a pivotal point in the game. Not only is the hold not clear cut but it appears that the ball was out before any infraction occurred (it was close).

In these two screen shots you can see the ball coming out and Breaux’s man Odell Beckham just starting to make his cut.

fumble 2Fumble 1I know it’s a judgement call and I usually don’t complain about penalties but this called wiped out what would have probably been the most important play of the game. Anyway, Bobby Richardson was outstanding on this play–his quickness and hand technique to the inside really was textbook work here. I’m sure Giants lineman John Jerry is going to catch an ear full from the coaches this week in film review, Richardson made him look that bad. Below is a couple of looks at the sack–notice the outside pressure from Kasim Edebali and Cam Jordan when Eli Manning tries to step up in the pocket to avoid the outside rus–he is met with Richardson. During the off season I was harping on the lack of interior rush from last year and how quarterbacks could step up in the pocket too easily; this brought a smile to my face.

fumble 3fumble 4Well that’s it for this week’s Grind Factor.  There was really so much more I could have put on here for this game. Maybe during the slow period of the off season, I’ll do a four part series on each quarter of this game much like I did a couple of years ago after the playoff loss to Seattle.

Up next is a really bad 1-6 Titans team that the Saints shouldn’t have any problem with and should win by double digits. I know a lot of people are calling this a trap game. I disagree. The Saints are a 4-4 ball club and are scraping for the last playoff spot. I don’t think they look past anybody at this point plus after that last defensive showing you can bet your last dollar that the defense will be hungry to get that bad taste out of their mouth.

I’m going with the Saints winning this one 27 to 16 to finally get above .500 and with that, as always……WHO DAT !