Beat the Jets? It's up to the New Orleans Saints Receivers
For the Saints to beat the New York Jets today, the receivers need to be on their game.
It’s up to them more than any other position.
Although the Jets have only three sacks through three games, they have shut down every passing game they have faced. Opponents are completing a league-low 47.9 percent of their throws and averaging a league-low 4.7 yards per attempt with a long gain of only 29 yards.
Houston’s Matt Schaub threw for 166 yards with zero scores and one interception. New England’s Tom Brady completed 23 of 47 passes with zero scores and one interception. Tennessee’s Kerry Collins was a dismal 15 of 37 with one touchdown and two picks.
Even with injured No. 2 and No. 3 cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland out today, New York’s pass rush and the presence of cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Kerry Rhodes will give the Saints their toughest test thus far.
Jets coach Rex Ryan is a master at disrupting the rhythm of quarterbacks with his assortment of blitzes. Drew Brees won’t have much time to get rid of the ball, and when he does, someone needs to be open.
Brees is an equal-opportunity destroyer. He throws to the receiver with the best chance to make a play on each down rather than locking in on a favorite guy.
He’ll need all of his viable targets today. Ryan’s defense will take away some of the Saints’ main options, but if everyone plays well, Brees will keep the Jets off balance just as they have kept opposing offenses off balance in the first three weeks.
Lance Moore’s hamstring injury has exposed the Saints’ lack of depth at wide receiver. Although he probably will play today, he may be nothing more than a decoy. The fifth and sixth wideouts on the roster, Courtney Roby and Rod Harper, have zero catches. Roby plays almost exclusively on special teams. Harper has been inactive in all three games.
Billy Miller’s preseason ACL tear deprived them of any receiving depth at tight end, too.
Today, Marques Colston (15 catches for 195 yards) has to continue playing like he did two years ago as opposed to his injury-plagued 2008, making sure-handed grabs in traffic and staying on his feet to turn normal gains into drive-changers.
Jeremy Shockey (14 catches, 128 yards), when he is not helping block blitzers, needs to be precise in his routes and refrain from drifting.
Devery Henderson (11 catches, 214 yards), who looks like an every-down receiver rather than an inconsistent big-play specialist for the first time in his career, needs to build on his solid progression. His 13-yard catch on a third-and-9 square in, where he found a hole in the zone, helped the Saints seal the deal against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday.
Reggie Bush (11 catches, 114 yards), Heath Evans (six catches, 51 yards) and Pierre Thomas have to be available as quick outlets to slow down the pass rush.
Robert Meachem has to show up – period. He had two catches in the opener, one in the second game and zero last week, unacceptable numbers for a third-year first-round draft pick. Today would be a good time to show he is more than an occasional deep threat who is useless at anything else.
If that group does their job, the Saints will be 4-0 by the evening.
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