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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints say their struggles with the Cover 2 defense are self-inflicted Friday September 21, 2007 By Mike Triplett Two weeks into this season, it sure seems like the Cover 2 defense is the Saints' kryptonite. Both the Indianapolis Colts and ...

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Old 09-21-2007, 06:18 PM   #1
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Cool Mystery 2 Uncover

Saints say their struggles with the Cover 2 defense are self-inflicted Friday

September 21, 2007
By Mike Triplett

Two weeks into this season, it sure seems like the Cover 2 defense is the Saints' kryptonite.

Both the Indianapolis Colts and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make heavy use of the defensive formation, a zone coverage with two deep safeties that is actually known as the "Tampa 2" because it was pioneered by the Buccaneers.

But don't expect the rest of the NFL to switch to the Cover 2 when they play the Saints. Even the opposing coaches can recognize that the Saints have done just as good of a job beating themselves on offense as the opposing defenses.

"We've had success against that defense before," said receiver Devery Henderson, who caught touchdown passes of 52 and 45 yards against the Buccaneers last season when the Saints' offense was on a roll. "So we can't just sit there and say it's working. We didn't do some things (at Tampa Bay last Sunday). I didn't catch some third-down plays. I didn't score in the end zone. Stuff like that. It's us."

"I don't think anybody's 'caught on' to what we're doing," quarterback Drew Brees said. "I feel like we spread the ball around enough, we're creative enough and we have enough weapons that teams have to worry about us, and not the other way around.

"(The Cover 2) takes a lot of patience, and your big plays come from just kind of wearing on them, wearing on them, then all of a sudden it pops."

With the two safeties staying back to prevent the deep pass, the conventional way for offenses to attack a Cover 2 is with underneath throws and the running game.

The Saints, however, haven't been able to put long drives together early this season because of fumbles, dropped passes, penalties and a handful of other breakdowns.

On their first drive at Tampa Bay last Sunday, Henderson dropped two potential catches on second-and-3 and third-and-3.

On their second drive, tailback Deuce McAllister fumbled at the end of a 7-yard run that took him to the Buccaneers' 43-yard line.

On the third drive, Brees underthrew a pass deep down the field to open receiver David Patten. On the fourth drive, McAllister lost a yard on third-and-2. And on the fifth drive, Henderson dropped a catchable pass in the end zone, and kicker Olindo Mare followed with a missed field-goal attempt.

"When you drop it and fumble it, you can't do much," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "We have to be able to block as well. I think Tampa did a good job, played with good energy, and I don't want to diminish what they did. (But) we have to look internally and make sure we are making the corrections we need to make. I don't think we are seeing any new fancy defense that is all of a sudden the answer."

For the record, Payton pointed out that the Chicago Bears used a lot of man coverage and pressure to beat the Saints in the NFC championship game last season. So it's not like teams are copying their game plan.

And he doesn't expect the Tennessee Titans to go away from what they do best Monday night in the Superdome.

The Titans are particularly good against the run. They are physical up front, they have good outside linebackers, and their cornerbacks are effective in run support.

"Every week it's different," Titans Coach Jeff Fisher said. "People have different approaches to different opponents. That's the challenge of the National Football League. I don't particularly believe that the Saints' offense faced the same coverage or were having difficulty with any coverage in particular."

One thing, however, is universal in the NFL. When teams get down by three or four touchdowns, especially late in games, the job of coming back gets an awful lot harder.

Payton said the most frustrating aspect of the Saints' first two games this season is that they've been stuck playing catch-up in the third and fourth quarters, switching into hurry-up mode with the no-huddle offense and being forced to abandon the running game.

"That doesn't suit us. I don't know how many teams it suits," Payton said. "That's been disappointing. You don't get enough rushing attempts. You end up being in a predictable situation, and all of a sudden it's a harder job to be a quarterback and it's harder to pass protect."

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