You just had to know Drew Brees would bounce back after two dreadful performances and bounce back in a big way he did. He was sharp all afternoon and carved up one of the best secondaries in the NFL on their home turf, not an easy feat by any means but when Brees is dialed in it doesn’t matter who the opponent is they are in for a long day.
If you wanted to be entertained in a football sense this was the game. You had a defense giving up big plays but also making up for it with two big turnovers, the 1st a fumble caused by Paul Kruger and the second and very crucial one in the 4th quarter, a fumble caused by Nick Fairely and Vonn Bell – the Saints would convert both turnovers into touchdowns.
You also had Brandin Cooks slicing up the Arizona defensive backs to the tune of 7 receptions for 186 yards and two touchdowns. It was also a nice homecoming for Tim Hightower who would find the endzone for a couple of scores, the last one of which caused a Mark Ingram sideline tantrum.
I’m not going to hammer Ingram like some Saints have following an incorrect report that the outburst was due to a touchdown clause in his contract (it wasn’t) Ingram is a very emotional player and I like that. Give me an angry Ingram any day over any running back on the Saints roster. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he went for 130 against Tampa Bay this Saturday afternoon. Ingram stated afterwards “I’ve got to control my emotions better” I say wear it on your sleeve Mark and go knock some linebackers backwards this Saturday.
Anyways this game had a ton of highlights but since there is no way to get to them all I’ll try and pick a few that are not so obvious and some that are.
The Grind Factor New Orleans at Arizona
The Saints have the ball 2nd and 10 from their 25 yard line with 12:22 to go in the 1st quarter
This is a 14 yard run on the second offensive play from scrimmage, it’s really nothing fancy but it is executed perfectly. The Saints are going to go 3 wide with a split backfield, Arizona’s inside linebacker Sio Moore makes the mistake of covering Travaris Cadet on a little swing route (it was linebacker Chandler Jones responsibility) below is a pre-snap look.
Senio Kelemete is going to pull to his right to take out the middle linebacker (if he hadn’t followed Cadet) and Max Unger, Jahri Evans and Zach Strief blow the lane open for Ingram.
Jahri Evans is eyeballing the other inside linebacker Keven Minter coming in hot and peels off his block and takes him out.
At this point it’s a hole big enough that you and I could have run through – great execution and misdirection early on to set the tone for the rest of the day.
The Saints have the ball 1st and 10 at their 35 yard line with 6:47 to go in the 1st half
This is the Brandin Cooks 65 yard touchdown catch. It’s really just a good read by Brees and Cooks getting the safety turned around. The Cardinals are going to show eight in the box and play a zone defense.
The left corner back is going to let cooks go by and take Willie Snead in a soft zone – at this point Cardinals safety DJ Swearinger thinks cooks is going to his left. Brees sees this and all Cooks has to do is make a simple catch and use his speed for the rest.
It also should be noted that the offensive line had excellent protection on the play as seen below.
Brandin Cooks now has 70 receptions for 1,056 yards and 8 TD’s he’s on pace to outdo last years total of 1,138 and 9 touchdowns. His average yards per catch is up this year from 13.5 to 15.1 – I know some fans don’t think Cooks can be a #1 receiver but I beg to differ on that train of thought, his numbers don’t lie.
Arizona has the ball 3rd and 10 from their 25 yard line with 5:22 to go in the game
In a game that resembled Arena football it was this defensive gem by Nick Fairley and Vonn Bell that to me was the play of the game.
Below you can see the Saints are going to bring six and drop five into coverage. Arizona is going to counter with a wide receiver screen to Brittan Golden with the center and tackle out front with help from the other two wide outs.
Nick Fairley immediately recognizes this and peels off of his block.
Fairley explodes to Golden and while he was making the tackle Vonn Bell comes in to finish stripping the ball. The Saints would essentially put the game away with a touchdown a few plays later. I also have to give props to Ken Crawley for holding onto the ball because it looked like the entire Cardinal team was trying to take it away.
Well that’s a wrap for this weeks Grind Factor. I know a lot has been said about Sean Payton’s play calling this year and rightfully so but when this offense is hitting on all their assignments Payton can still call plays with the best in the business.
Also there are many fans who are disgruntled that the Saints got snubbed for the pro bowl and to that I say who watches the pro bowl? I surely don’t and if the Saints don’t win the popularity vote in a contest of biased fans who cares?
I only care about the Saints finishing strong starting this Saturday and to that I say, as always….WHO DAT!!