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Danno 08-26-2011 10:44 AM

PFF: 5 reasons to be confident / concerned

PFF Preview 2011 - New Orleans Saints |

Five Reasons to be Confident
1.) Drew Brees is Still Underrated

see link for Duh! reasons

2.) A Three-Headed Monster

Itís early in the preseason, but there are already positive signs in the New Orleansí backfield. Pierre Thomas has been a perennial PFF favorite, but because of his history with injuries, the Saints decided not to take any chances and drafted Mark Ingram in the first round and signed Darren Sproles in free agency. Itís too early to be definitive but it looks as if Thomas and Ingram will share early down carries, with Sproles taking the field on third downs. This makes the most sense because although Thomas is a real threat as a receiver, heís not the pass protector that Sproles is, and you really donít want a rookie running backs picking up blitzes.

In the game against the Texans, these three backs combined for 106 yards and a touchdown on 18 touches and that may just be the precursor to far better things to come.

3.) The Right Side of the Offensive Line

We put Jahri Evans in our Pro Bowl squad a year before anyone outside of Louisiana knew who he was, and told you before last season started that the Cowboys would be fine with Doug Free playing left tackle. The last time Jon Stinchcomb was anything other than a liability in pass protection was the 2009 regular season. Stinchcomb has always had skills as a run blocker, but his protection has faded notably over the last year and a half and heís been particularly poor in the playoffs. Thatís just one of the reasons why weíve been calling for Zach Strief to be promoted.

Another reason is that if you extrapolated Striefís pass blocking performance over the last three years up to the same snaps as Stinchcomb had last year it would read like this:

Strief Ė sacks 4, hits 11, hurries 17

Stinchcomb Ė sacks 7, hits 6, hurries 48

4.) The Receiving Corps is Intact

See link for what we allready know...

5.) A Solid Combination of Defensive Tackles

New Orleans made some excellent additions on the defensive line this offseason. Shaun Rogers was a cap casualty in Cleveland, and the only knock on him is that he can look a little uninterested when playing against the run. However, he was excellent when tasked with getting to the quarterback, as he was our sixth-ranked pass rusher as a defensive tackle, getting three sacks, 12 hits and 15 hurries on only 272 rushes.

Later, when the market for 49ers NT Aubrayo Franklin didnít materialize, they filled the void left by Remi Ayodele with an even better run stuffer. In our opinion, only Kyle Williams did a better job against the run than Franklin last year and on early downs he can eat-up two blockers. Great news? Not quite yet. In their obsession to try and ring every ounce of value from first-round underachiever Sedrick Ellis, the Saints are still starting him alongside Rogers.


5 Reasons to be Concerned

1.) Olin Kreutz Could Be Over The Hill

Letís be honest, itís a real indictment when a club with as poor an offensive line as the Chicago Bears lets their former All-Pro center walk. Olin Kreutz still holds his own as a pass protector, but his run blocking has declined significantly, and he was as ineffective as any center in the league last year. Should we call it? Not quite yet. Heís now gone from playing between two of the lesser guards in the league to two of the best, and his notorious passion and pride has got to have been piqued. In the world of previously good centers moving to new teams, letís hope this one is more Matt Birk (our top ranked C last year) than Jeff Faine (No. 27).

2.) Jermon Bushrod is (still) at LT

Three seasons ago, after winning the Super Bowl with David Diehl at left tackle, the New York Giants gave him a new contract and the position full-time. 21 sacks, 28 hits and 76 hurries of Eli Manning later, they finally returned him to LG. Putting it bluntly, David Diehl is a better player than Jermon Bushrod, but the fourth rounder out of Towson State may have a longer tenure than Diehl at the position. Why? Well thereís a theme running through this preview and if you skip to No. 5, it will answer that question more fully.

The recent past is more my point and watching Bushrod get killed by Raheem Brock in this yearís Wild Card game worries me a lot.

3.) Pressure on Opposing Quarterbacks Will Need to be Manufactured (again)

See link for more info...

4.) The Linebackers are a weakness (once more)

Hard evidence from previous years suggests that a third of the linebackers will be awful and, if Jonathan Vilma is not protected by his defensive tackles, the Saints can make that two of three. The Jets let the ex-hurricane go because of his lack of solidity vs. the run but given his fantastic ability in coverage that wasnít such an issue for New Orleans. The problem is last year his coverage fell away too; giving away 71% of catches on balls thrown his way and four TDs. However, letís say this coverage issue is a blip and we now have Aubrayo Franklin holding in guards Ė it could go either way.

What isnít a blip is Scott Shanleís performance. In the last three years, weíve ranked him last, next to last and 4th from last of all 4-3 linebackers. In 2010 he missed 20% of all tackles he attempted, gave up a QB rating of 106 on balls thrown into his coverage and generated only 12 pressures from 147 attempts.

Finally, for reasons that escape us, the Seahawks used free agent pick-up Will Herring as a nickel LB last year in preference to David Hawthorne. Herring played 302 snaps and in that time there was nothing to suggest he was more than just a back-up. Starting him on the strong side seems like a high risk move.

5.) The Saints are (very) stubborn

See link for info (can't post the entire thing you know)!

● Insisting Reggie Bush was a between-the-tackles runner when the rest of the league knew after one season he was a slot receiver.

● The obsession with Sedrick Ellis despite years of underwhelming play.

● Leaving Bushrod at LT.

● Persisting with Scott Shanle at all never mind as an every down player.

Excellent read.

alexonfyre 08-26-2011 10:50 AM

Actually very accurate, I don't know if I can disagree with any of that.

Danno 08-26-2011 11:35 AM


Originally Posted by alexonfyre (Post 323666)
Actually very accurate, I don't know if I can disagree with any of that.

Two things stand out. I've mentioned this before, it didn't go over well...

The obsession with Sedrick Ellis despite years of underwhelming play.

I think we've increase speed on the outside with Casillas and Herring/Wilson so I don't think we'll need to manufacture as much pressure.

And with Franklin and Rogers collapsing the pocket, it forces QB's to roll out or back instead of up into the pocket which will help our DE's and outside pressure succeed.

Beastmode 08-26-2011 12:35 PM

Good article. The concerns are valid but the bottom line is the Saints concerns are manageable. On the positive is the backfield. Turning those neg and 0 rushes into 1-3 yarders will be a huge difference on third down. On the negative, I'm concerned about LT but you can't have it all. Bushrod will get the help he needs when facing superior talent from time to time but he has proven himself IMO.

TheDeuce 08-26-2011 12:49 PM

Agree with most of it except two points:

Sedrick Ellis is not that bad... there are a lot of worse options out there and to be honest I thought Sed played pretty well last year. He had quite a few sacks a year ago. Not sure where his evidence is that he's one of our top five problems.

That Strief "extrapolation" is stupid. You can't take a limited number of snaps that a backup has seen and extrapolate it out and compare it to a starter's, just doesn't work that way. I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you didn't like Stinch, you'll hate Strief. There's a reason Strief didn't beat him out for FIVE YEARS, and that's because he's not as good.

neugey 08-26-2011 12:52 PM

I found one mistake in the article, putting my fix in bold print:

Insisting Reggie Bush was a between-the-tackles runner when the rest of the league except for the Dolphins knew after one season he was a slot receiver.

Crusader 08-26-2011 04:01 PM

I dont agree with the Ellis part. IMHO he has done a good job with limited support from the other DT position.

Danno 08-26-2011 04:27 PM


Originally Posted by Crusader (Post 323737)
I dont agree with the Ellis part. IMHO he has done a good job with limited support from the other DT position.

I'd say he's average. Good to great DT's don't need a compliment DT to play well.

He's a keeper, but I think we over-rate him.

alexonfyre 08-26-2011 04:30 PM


Originally Posted by Danno (Post 323738)
I'd say he's average. Good to great DT's don't need a compliment DT to play well.

He's a keeper, but I think we over-rate him.

Agreed, for a first-rounder, I expect you to be dominant.
Big Sed isn't a bust, I would say he's a good rotational starter, but he hasn't lived up to his college hype.

SAINT_MICHAEL 08-26-2011 04:46 PM

Right on most accounts IMO. The biggest thing I agree upon (and the one that is most overlooked) is the quality of the linebackers. Outside of Vilma, I don't think most of the guys on the team make other club's final rosters, much less earn starting spots.

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