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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Will Smith and Charles Grant make sacks their business, but that stock is falling shy as the Saints have yet to get to a quarterback in their first three games Thursday, September 27, 2007 By Mike Triplett Late in the ...

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Old 09-27-2007, 04:37 PM   #1
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Cool Hot pocket

Will Smith and Charles Grant make sacks their business, but that stock is falling shy as the Saints have yet to get to a quarterback in their first three games

Thursday, September 27, 2007
By Mike Triplett

Late in the second quarter Monday night, Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young spent an extra couple of seconds in the pocket, looking for an open receiver on third-and-2.

Just as he threw the ball, Saints defensive end Will Smith hit Young from the quarterback's blind side, smothering him to the ground as the pass flew incomplete. Young was shaken up, and didn't return until the third quarter.

That play may not sound like much of a big deal. But for the Saints defense, that's about as good as it's gotten this season.

Through three games, they have zero sacks, and have forced only one interception -- an errant throw by Young earlier in the second quarter.

"It's been disappointing," Smith said. "The fact that we've had a lot of opportunities to make plays and we just haven't made them. Or we got there too late to make sacks. And just the fact that we haven't won any games.

"We know we're going out there, we're playing hard, we're doing a lot of positive things and making big plays. But at the same time, we're kind of beating ourselves, and we're trying to do something to change that."

The Saints have had about a million and one problems on their way to an 0-3 start, but the lack of pressure on quarterbacks is one of the big ones, and also one of the biggest surprises.

Smith earned a trip to the Pro Bowl last season with 10 1/2 sacks. Fellow defensive end Charles Grant, who has 36 sacks in his six-year career, earned a seven-year contract extension in April that could be worth $63 million.

They've each had a handful of big plays. Grant stuffed receiver Roydell Williams for an 11-yard loss on a pitch play during the Titans' opening drive, and Smith forced Young to fumble and lose 12 yards on a scramble on the next play.

But so far, they have been unable to set the tone on defense, allowing opposing quarterbacks -- Young, Indianapolis' Peyton Manning, Tampa Bay's Jeff Garcia -- to get way too comfortable in the pocket.

"That's one of the things as you look at (Monday's game), the pressure we're getting and the pressure they're getting, we've got to do a better job there," Saints Coach Sean Payton said, a major understatement after the Titans' defense swarmed Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

"That's just part of many things we've got to improve on."

Not all of the blame falls on the Saints' pass rushers.

For starters, take a look at the opposing quarterbacks and offenses. Manning and Garcia rarely get sacked. They make quick decisions and throw short passes. Young, too, doesn't spend much time holding the ball in the pocket. If he doesn't see an open receiver, he'll take off running.

You can also look at the Saints' offense. They're supposed to be piling on the points and putting pressure on teams to play catch-up.

Instead, the Saints offense has been turning the ball over, giving short fields to the opposing teams and allowing opponents to run out the clock in the third and fourth quarters.

"Once we start winning some games and start getting the lead, we'll have a lot more opportunity where they can't just do the rinky-dink. They can't just dump it down and throw short passes," Smith said. "Since we've been behind in all the games we've played so far, it's hard to get pressure because teams are going to run to protect the ball -- run, run, then play-action pass where you have to honor the run read."

Smith said he doesn't think it would help for the Saints to start blitzing more, because most offenses have been throwing quick, "hot" passes to avoid the pressure anyway.

He also said that sacks seem to come in bunches, and the Saints are long overdue.

"We've just got to keep doing what we're doing," Smith said. "We're getting there; we're getting pressure; we're getting hits on the quarterback. Eventually it will come our way."

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