For approximately 53 minutes Sunday I had that sinking feeling in my gut that this was going to be a tough long two weeks to stomach as the Saints would notch up another loss. And then the Chargers would do what the Saints are prone to do – blow the game and hand over a gift wrapped victory to the opponent on a silver platter.

35-34 I’ll take it thank you very much.

This improbable happened – Starting with 6:50 left in the game the Chargers ran six offensive plays and the Saints managed three turnovers in that span, let that sink in for a moment.

Although I find it extremely refreshing to finally get to do a film review after a Saints victory there were certainly things in this game that still concern me. For one the Saints just can’t seem to play complimentary football especially on the road. When the coaching staff finally took off the kid gloves for this thrown together defensive unit in the 2nd half they responded with aggression and got the ball back for the offense. Drew Brees and company responded by doing nothing with the opportunities handed to them.

Speaking of Brees, he looked tight all day. He probably played this game over and over in his head leading up to kickoff and was just trying too hard – at least it seemed that way to me. The offense as a whole has become average on the road, that’s why I cringe every time the Saints take a home loss – they are crucial for this team, take care of business in the dome and steal one or two on the road which is exactly what they did this past Sunday.

I think it should be noted that the two 2nd round picks in this years draft came up huge in this win. Props to Vonn Bell for the hit he put on Chargers RB Melvin Gordon to jar the ball loose in the 1st of three crucial turnovers.

Also How clutch was Michael Thomas with that 4th down touchdown? Make no mistake Drew Brees trust this rookie like he would a guy he’s been playing five years with. We started to see the connection in OTA’s and Training camp and it definitely has carried over to the regular season, expect more of the same moving forward.

Even though the last 6:50 of the game was must see TV today I’m going to take a look at some of the plays on defense when they came out to start the second half. The defense for all their recent woes made some adjustments at half time and forced three straight San Diego punts. Hats off to Dennis Allen for not sitting on his hands like his predecessor seemed to do way too often the last two years.

The Grind Factor New Orleans at San Diego

San Diego has the ball 2nd and 10 from their 15 yard line with 14:23 left in the 3rd quarter

The reason I highlighted this play was because a lot of the time the battle in the trenches goes unnoticed. This is really textbook run defense. The Saints are in a 4-2-5 nickel defense but really it’s a 4-3 front with Vaccaro in his hybrid linebacker role. Below is a look at the pre-snap personnel.


This play was designed to hit the B gap but Cam Jordan plugs that lane, Melvin Gordon wants to kick it out side but Vaccaro comes up to take that away. Gordon kicks it back to the inside where Nick Fairley fights off a double team to make the stop.


Also it should be noted that Robertson was there with Fairley to make the stop. These are the type of plays that I was hoping Fairley would deliver when the Saints signed him in the off season. I know it doesn’t seem like much but it is, the next play with the Chargers facing 3rd and long would end up with Edebali batting down a pass forcing a punt.


The Chargers have the ball 3rd and 5 from their 30 yard line with 8:42 to go in the 3rd quarter

The Chargers second possession of the 2nd half and again Nick Fairley comes up huge with help from Cam Jordan. Below is a look at the defensive personnel in an odd front – pre snap.


When we talked about in the off season the Saints need for an interior rush to compliment the out side rush (or vise versa) this is what we meant. This play is designed to go to TE Hunter Henry with Craig Robertson on the coverage.

Cam Jordan beats his man on the outside and Nick Fairley does the same as seen below.


The pressure by Jordan causes Phillip Rivers to step up in the pocket where Fairley hits Rivers as he is releasing the ball causing him to throw it short of his intended target – also notice the solid coverage by Robertson.


The Chargers have the ball 2nd and 4 at their 32 yard line with 5:20 left in the 3rd quarter

I know the Saints secondary gets criticized a lot and much of it is deserved but this play below shows at times they can get the job done. This is in the Chargers 3rd possession of the 2nd half, below is a screen shot of the routes ran.


I think this play was designed to go to Chargers WR Tyrell Williams all the way – Rivers never looked anywhere else. As you can see the coverage is tight across the board.


Recently acquired CB BW Webb makes an outstanding play on the ball just as it arrives – Okay there may have been a touch of pass interference but it’s about time the Saints got a non call to go their way.


Well that’s a wrap for this week, I have to admit these are much more fun to do after a win. Drew Brees said it perfectly in his post game presser when he said this bye week comes at a great time to get people healthy and to come back as if it were a brand new season.

If the Saints can put it together on both sides of the ball consistently then I believe they can hang with any team on their schedule – the question is will they?