Welcome to another year of the grind factor.
It’s certainly not the way we wanted to start the year off with a one point loss to the Oakland Raiders but considering the way the Saints looked during the pre-season it gives me a small window of optimism.
But first things first.
The loss of Delvin Breaux to a fractured leg was a huge blow to a defense trying to find itself. The young trio of corners on the front line – Ken Crawley, DeVonte Harris and PJ Williams really have no time to lick their wounds. With the likes of OBJ, Victor Cruz and Julio Jones coming up in the next couple of games my hope is that they can bend but don’t break and hope the offense is firing on all cylinders.
Of course it goes without saying that without pressure from the defensive front the Saints corners will be exploited early and often. This to me was the most disappointing aspect of Sundays loss – the inability to create pressure especially when you are up by two scores and have a chance to slam the door shut. The Saints better figure out a way to get to the quarterback or they will be looking at 0-3 in a blink of an eye.
The offense on the other hand ran like a well oiled machine (something that was missing in the pre-season) That trio of Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead are down right dangerous. I would argue that this is the best set of receivers that Drew Brees has had in his time with the Saints and if they can get Colby Fleener involved they are going to light it up all year long.
Usually when I do these grind factors I will take a few plays from the game that I thought was significant in shaping the outcome and break it down as to why it worked or didn’t. But for this week what I want to do is look at what type of defense Dennis Allen is deploying and the personnel packages he used in certain situations. I think it’s important for us to understand the scheme since he is starting with a clean slate this year.
Okay lets get to it.
The Grind Factor Oakland at New Orleans
Oakland has the ball 1st and ten deep in their own territory on their second possession (after the sack fumble gift earlier) The Raiders come out with a three receiver set. The Saints counter with their 3-3-5 base nickel set as seen below.
Up next on the same offensive series Oakland comes out with a single back three tight end jumbo package (Out of the picture Amari Cooper is the single WR split wide with PJ Williams in coverage) The Saints counter with six defenders on the line and interesting enough have Breaux in kind of a strong safety role covering a tight end coming out on a crossing route. On the play Jairus Byrd bites hard on the play fake and is too late to cover Cooper who PJ Williams lets go thinking he had safety help. It can also be possible that Williams was supposed to stay with Cooper with the route but I tend to think this 34 yard gain is on Byrd.
This next look is the Saints getting into their 4-2-5 defense with the Raiders using a three wide out set – The 3rd receiver (Seth Roberts) is a step off the line across from Cam Jordan who he chips before going into his route.
Below is another look at the Saints in a 4-2-5 set. The Raiders come out with a five wide formation (that is RB Latavius Murray circled in red) The difference here is they swap out Tyeler Davison for John Jenkins and slide out Robertson to cover Murray. Laurinaitis comes on the blitz and Carr throws a short incomplete out pass to Amari Cooper with PJ Williams on the coverage.
Next next up this is the personnel package of their 3-4 cover one (single deep safety) defense with Vaccaro on the line of scrimmage.
These are just five examples of how Dennis Allen will use his personnel and the type of scheme he is running. It’s hard to make a solid determination on what the Saints true base defense is because of the scheme in Oakland’s that offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave deploys. He runs a lot of three and four receiver sets plus a heavy dose of single back three tight end Jumbo packages. Needles to say the Saints were in a nickle defense most of the time.
Awhile back I wrote about Allen’s past schemes leaning more towards a 4-3 front, but now my guess is because of personnel they may be heading toward the three man front. Again it may just be for this game because of Musgrave’s defensive scheme.
Well that’s a wrap for this weeks Grind Factor. The next time out I will go back to my regular format and break the plays down and give you a better idea what swung the game and why. Next week is another huge challenge for the team and hopefully we will have different results but I have a feeling that this Giants game will come down to the wire (again) so until then, as always WHODAT!