I was shopping at a local supermarket today and while I was checking the expiration date on a milk carton I noticed the entire Saints offense plastered on the side of it. Invasion of the body snatchers – can somebody please conjure up a good gris-gris and squash this voodoo curse so we can have Drew Brees back?
Sure Tampa Bay had everything to play for and the Saints were all but eliminated from the post season but to be honest this Saints offense has been in a funk since curb stomping the Rams and Gregg the Rat. Just from watching past teams the Saints offense always has at least one clunker up their sleeves a year but for some reason this seems different and I can’t put my finger on it. Have they given up? I don’t think so.
I do think key injuries to Michael Thomas, Max Unger and Josh Hill played a role but it’s more than that. At this point in the season when you are dropping easy touchdown passes or over throwing them plus mix in too many penalties to count something clearly is wrong and it all starts at the top – Sean Payton.
But instead of focusing on the negatives I’m going give credit where credit is due – Dennis Allen and his much improved defense. Remember a while back when the Saints were 31st in total defense? Since they have gotten healthier on that side of the ball they now are 24th in total defense and 12th against the run. I would have liked to have seen what Allen could have come up with with all his chess pieces in place to start the season.
I also have to give credit to two starters that have been in the trenches from the beginning – Cam Jordan and Nick Fairely, these two men have played at a pro bowl level and I hope that they get their due when this season comes to a close.
When this season is over I’ll write a season review but let me just say now that I feel much better going into this off-season than I did after 2014 and 2015. This team isn’t that far off from contention, they really aren’t.
Sure there are a few holes that need to be filled such as a DE opposite Jordan or a guard and definitely a linebacker to run the defense but every team has needs and wants each off-season. In 2014 you had locker room issues with players showing up just to collect a check. After an off-season purge in 2015 it didn’t get any better mainly because Rob Ryan’s defense either confused his players or he couldn’t even get the right defense called in time so he was fired midway through the season.
This year most of the pieces are in place plus they finally have a decent amount of money to go after some free agents to help plug some holes and if they can somehow draft as good as they did last year then I really think this team can get on a roll next year.
Anyways because the defense played so well this past Sunday I’m going to look at a couple of plays from that side of the ball and because Cam Jordan has been dominant this year we’ll spotlight him.
The Grind Factor New Orleans at Tampa Bay
The Bucs have the ball 1st & 10 at their 36 yard line with 5:29 to go in the 1st quarter
This play doesn’t seem like much it’s just a one yard loss to the running back but there’s a lot going on here plus it highlights Jordan’s brute strength.
David Onyemata and Sheldon Rankins are going to collapse the middle of the line below is a pre-snap look.
As the ball is snapped Dannell Ellerbe already reads run and is on the move to his left but Stephone Anthony is slow to react and reads the play going to the right. It looks as if a hole has opened up to the running back’s right side but Jordan overpowers his man to seal the hole.
When the RB tries to bounce it to the outside Jordan easily throws his block to the side and makes the tackle for a loss. Notice the triple team on Rankins, that’s a tough gig to have – as you can see they got the best of him on this play.
This is the end result of a play by Jordan that showcases his power plus great vision and technique.
The Bucs have the ball 3rd & 19 from their 26 yard line with 9:57 to go in the 3rd quarter
Up next is the Nick Fairley sack – Fairley gets the sack but it was the Cam Jordan pressure that caused it. That and a blown blocking assignment by the Bucs. It’s a long yardage situation and the Saints are in a 3-3-5 with Roman Harper filling Kenny Vaccaro’s hybrid LB spot.
The Saints are going to stunt Jordan through the A gap and blitz Ellerbe, below is a pre-snap look.
As the play gets underway the Bucs right guard was supposed to slide over to plug the stunt by Jordan and the right tackle was to take his man (Fairley) that doesn’t happen and they both take Fairley leaving Jordan with a clear path to Jameis Winston.
Another mistake by the two Bucs linemen was when they both seen Jordan running free the both peel off of Fairley allowing him to run free as seen below.
Winston somehow escapes the hit by Jordan but he couldn’t escape the hit by Fairley.
And this is the end result – a missed assignment and two defensive linemen with their ears pinned back pummeling the quarterback.
Well that’s a wrap for this weeks Grind Factor, it was an ugly loss but the defense did all they could to make up for the offense’s blunders, it just wasn’t enough.
There have been reports that Drew Brees was spotted in the Arizona desert sitting next to a tumbleweed eating a Jimmy Johns sandwich so if you see him please tell him to report to the university of Phoenix stadium this Sunday at 3pm the Saints are in desperate need of him showing up.