If you are a fan of Louisiana sports I have one word to describe this past weekend – painful. Tulane, LSU, the Pelicans and of course the Saints all fell in one extreme or another but it was the Saints latest debacle that is the most concerning. Here we are with just over half the season gone and they are still making mistakes that should have been cleaned up in the preseason.

The Saints did exactly what everybody said they couldn’t do – let a bad team hang around long enough for them to bite you, which is exactly what happened.

This team in recent weeks looked to be on track for a bit of a run but took three steps backwards Sunday afternoon. The defense was horrible, especially in the second half. This was a Titans team that just last week gave up seven sacks to the Texans, the Saints got zilch playing in front a home crowd. Yes Hau’oli Kikaha with his pass rushing skills was out but come on, zero sacks?

There is a huge difference from 5-4 to 4-5…whatever slim chances the Saints had at the playoffs before the game evaporated with every blown coverage, missed tackle, turnover and stupid penalty.

PaytonThere was a golden opportunity for the Saints to make up some ground in the NFC standings but instead they came out on defense and played completely undisciplined football. I know a lot of people are calling for Rob Ryan’s head but to be honest I’m not sure that would do any good, what the Saints need is for their play makers to show up on a consistent basis week in and week out instead of showing flashes of their potential.

It wasn’t just the defense, the offense and play calling had their hand in this embarrassment also. I don’t care what Sean Payton said about Mark Ingram and his pass protection, when you only give one of your best play makers (CJ Spiller) six snaps in the entire game that logic has to be questioned.

The offensive line also took a step back after playing somewhat well the past few weeks, the most crucial part of any team besides quarterback is the offensive line and when it falls apart like it did last Sunday, as good as Brees is, it makes him average when he’s constantly knocked off his mark.

Okay enough of my rant.

They last time the Saints stunk it up like this they reeled off three straight wins, do they regroup and do the same? I would hope so but history is not on their side with this. The loss of Dannell Ellerbe and Hau’oli Kikaha really hurt this defense Sunday and until they are back in the line up the defense will continue to struggle.

Alright lets get to it, I might as well get it out the way and start with the last play of the game…

The Titans have the ball 2nd & goal from the Saints 5 yard line with 10:25 to go in overtime

This is just a well executed play by the Titans that caught the Saints defense completely sleeping. Interesting personnel grouping by Tennessee here, they spread out three tight ends and one wide receiver split wide right. Below is a screen shot of the routes ran and key personnel involved.

OT 1The Titans tight end Anthony Fasano crashes down on Cameron Jordan while the rest of the routes are pulling the defense to the right side of the field. Notice Stephone Anthony is following Marcus Mariota’s eyes and the far side containment – Michael Mauti is coming with pressure on the left side as seen in the screen shot below.

OT 2At this point it’s all over when Fabano goes uncovered and is wide open for the win, below you can see the entire defense going in the wrong direction. I’m not sure who to blame on this play, the Saints just got fooled on a well designed and executed play.

OT 3OT winThe Saints have the ball 1st & 10 at the Titans 38 with 4:07 left in the 1st quarter

 I highlighted this Brandin Cooks touchdown because he’s quietly becoming a force this year, as of now he has 45 catches for 603 yards and 4 touchdowns.

On this play the Saints catch the Titans blitzing leaving Cooks one on one with Perrish Cox to which he blows by him with ease. The key here is Mark Ingram picking up the linebacker coming in, below is a pre-snap look.

Cooks td 1It’s a pretty simple play; the Titans are in cover one with Safety Da’Norris Searcy shading the side with Marques Colston and Willie Snead. All Brees has to do hit the wide open Cooks streaking down the sideline. I think the emergence of Snead and Benjamin Watson in recent weeks has really opened things up for Cooks, you double him up and the other two will steal your lunch money.

Cooks td 2 Cooks td 3Cooks td 4The Titans have the ball 3rd & 6 at their 39 yard line with 1:41 to go in the 1st quarter

I guess I couldn’t complete this article without going over the three stooges play, yep the dreaded 61 yard touchdown to TE Delanie Walker. After looking at this play numerous times I don’t feel as bad as I did watching it live, it was just a bad break from a freak play.

1st the play wasn’t even designed to go to Walker and 2nd it was a pretty good defensive stunt that caused Marcus Mariota to basically throw it up for grabs instead of taking the sack.

The Saints are going to blitz Kenny Vacarro, Brandon Browner and Kyle Wilson, it’s Wilson who almost gets to Mariota causing the forced throw. Below is the key personnel and routes ran (notice David Hawthorne dropping into coverage.

Walker 1In this next screen shot the ball is in the air, initially Jairus Byrd was helping Hawthorne with the receiver running the post pattern down the middle of the field but with his eyes on Mariota he peels off of him when he throws it up for grabs, Keenan Lewis who’s primary man is Walker is also tracking the ball.

Walker 2The worst part about this play is that it’s not even designed to go to Walker, he Basically stops running and is looking where the ball is supposed to go – at the receiver running down the middle of the field as seen below.

Walker 3We all know what happens next, Lewis and Byrd collide and the ball is tipped right into Walker’s breadbasket to where he takes the gift and runs 61 yards for the score. It also should be noted that Hawthorne did try to come over and help with the tackle but was absolutely destroyed by the receiver, he never even seen the freight train coming.

Walker 4

Welp that’s a wrap for this weeks Grind Factor, hopefully next week it won’t be as cringe worthy to read.

If the Saints have any sliver of hope they must take care of Washington in their house and limp to the bye week at .500, it’s a must to get that linebacker corps healed up for the stretch run. One thing I do know is that their margin for error now is razor thin and please use this bye week to hypnotize Brandon Browner and free him of his holding ways.

It’s really just a few plays here and there that has really hurt this team, if they can clean up the easy errors then with this offense they will be in every game. I know it’s easier said than done with this group but it can be done and with that, as always….WHO DAT!