I’ve been doing the Grind Factor for five years now and for those that don’t know, the premise is that the team grinds through the off-season and training camp with the hope that the (improvement) results would show up on Sundays. I would then take a few plays good or bad that would shape the outcome of the game and break down those plays.
Two games in and there’s no turning point or crucial plays that have determined the outcome of the game. The Saints have been man handled from the opening snap. This past Sunday against the Patriots it felt as if I was watching a Mike Ditka coached Saints team – it made my eyes hurt.
The Grind Factor New England at New Orleans
Here is a snap shot of how bad it was.
The first touchdown proves two things – how football really is a game of inches and why Tom Brady is….well Tom Brady.
The Saints play a single high safety (Marcus Williams) with man coverage across the board. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski runs a crossing route and Williams comes up to help with that coverage. At the same time running back Rex Burkhead is going to run a simple fade route to the endzone with Alex Anzalone in coverage.
Anzalone really does a poor job of jamming Burkhead 4 yards from the line of scrimmage and Burkhead runs right by him. Meanwhile rookie defensive end Trey Hendrickson applies the pressure hitting Brady a millisecond after he releases the ball.
Here’s another look at Hendrickson getting to Brady.
Brady makes this pitch and catch look so easy when it was anything but.
Next up is the unfortunate touchdown to Rob Gronkowski (yes I typed that laughing)
The Saints actually had a good pass rush with Alex Okafor and Hau’oli Kikaha bringing pressure off the edge and David Onyemata getting the interior push.
When Brady steps up Onyemata is there but of course Brady gets the ball off somehow.
The only thing I can say about what happens next is never…NEVER! take your eyes off Gronk. Hopefully Anzalone will learn his lesson after this 53 yard touchdown.
Next up is the Chris Hogan pick play touchdown. Okay technically it wasn’t a pick play because it happened at the line of scrimmage. I bet those two officials who threw the offensive pass interference flags would have never picked them up if Brian Hoyer was pleading his case instead of Tom Brady. Yes I am a disgruntled Saints fan and yes I am whining.
It’s really simple what happened and I really can’t fault PJ Williams, it was just the Patriots being smarter than the Saints and knowing what you can get away with. These next three screen shots tell the tale.
Three Patriot possessions in the 1st quarter and three touchdowns. If I had one word to describe that 1st quarter it would be – debacle. How bad was it? The Patriots ran 24 plays for 217 yards and a time of possession of 10:31. The Saints meanwhile ran just 9 plays for 45 yards and had the ball for 4:13, that my friends is getting your ass handed to you.
Something is amiss with this team and I can’t put my finger on it. This team at this point is at the level of the Jets, 49ers, Bengals and the Browns.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Yes this team is starting four rookies and there are the expected growing pains but what is showing up on gameday is an undisciplined squad that to me looks like they have tuned Sean Payton out.
If the Saints haven’t had played so poorly these last two games then we could maybe see a ray of sunshine with this tough stretch to start the season but they haven’t given us anything. Okay I take that back – Marshon Lattimore has played well and is proving his worth but the team as a whole looks lost at this point.
I still think Payton is a good coach but sometimes being in a spot for so long gets stale and no matter how hard you try your message will fall on deaf ears. It happens, just ask Andy Reid, he knows all too well about falling out of favor and his message not getting across. New scenery in Kansas City and he’s on a roll again. Was he a bad coach when he got fired? of course not but the results were not there at the end.
I feel this year is the end for Payton.
I also hope he proves me wrong and rights this ship. It doesn’t get any easier this coming Sunday when the Saints take on a Panthers team that has given up only six points in two games. The Saints backs are squarely against the wall and I hate to say it but if they can’t manage to squeak out a win then the fat lady singing just started using a bullhorn with the volume knob pegged.