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Changing strategy for the New Orleans Saints was the ticket against Houston: Film study

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Sean Payton called it the tale of two halves. The New Orleans Saints team that opened the Houston Texans game definitely wasn't the one that finished it. They stormed back from a 16-10 halftime deficit with a record-breaking fourth-quarter flourish ...

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Old 09-29-2011, 01:32 PM   #1
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Sean Payton called it the tale of two halves.

The New Orleans Saints team that opened the Houston Texans game definitely wasn't the one that finished it. They stormed back from a 16-10 halftime deficit with a record-breaking fourth-quarter flourish to post an exciting 40-33 come-from-behind win.

And they did it by riding the back - and brain - of quarterback Drew Brees.

Trailing 26-17 early in the fourth quarter, Payton made a brilliant strategic move. He abandoned the regular offense and went almost exclusively to a hurry-up offense that relied on Brees to call the plays at the line of scrimmage based on pre-snap reads.

Conjuring up his Purdue University days, Brees operated out of the shotgun and spread formation. The Saints' used the same five skill-position players in their Pony personnel group: receivers Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore; tight end Jimmy Graham; and running back Darren Sproles, who was aligned as a slot receiver more often than not.

The Saints didn't huddle at all or used a "sugar" huddle - a quick huddle within 5 yards of the line scrimmage --to keep the Texans from substituting personnel.

The Saints attacked out of this offense from the 11:20 mark on, and the Texans were helpless to stop it. Brees directed three consecutive touchdown drives and converted two two-point conversions. The 23-point outburst was a Saints record.

In all, the Saints ran the Pony package on 17 of 19 plays in the three-series span. Brees completed 12 of 17 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns. He was not sacked or intercepted once in the series. Four of the five perimeter players caught passes in the sequence. Brees picked on Texans corner Kareem Jackson for four completions to Lance Moore, hitting him for gains of 8, 8, 15 and 16 yards, the latter good for a touchdown.

"When he got going and you look at the ball distribution, it went to a lot of different players," Payton said. "It was something."

Payton said Brees called all of the plays at the line of scrimmage on those three series, relying on his experience and diligent film study to assign the proper pass protections and get the Saints in the correct play.

"When the formation breaks ... he's taking a peak at the defense and finding out who or if anybody is coming and how can we get the protection right," Payton said. "There's a lot going on in eight seconds and now the balls snapped and he's into his routine. He's extremely smart and works extremely hard at try to by game day go through all these things in his mind so it comes easier and appears slower than maybe it would be."

It's a role an intensely competitive leader like Brees loves.

"I've grown to really, really like that," Brees said. "I know I have a coach that has a lot of confidence in me. I know we have a great game plan and I have a ton of trust and confidence in the guys I'm throwing to. I do love that opportunity. I feel like when he gives me that opportunity, I have something to prove every time out."

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Who else? Texans coach Gary Kubiak said after the game the Saints essentially "put the game in Drew's hands ... spread the field and let him go to work." Brees essentially beat the Texans singlehandedly. He rallied from a shaky start to post some impressive final numbers: 31 of 44, 370 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs. One of the interceptions was the result of a miscommunication with tight end Jimmy Graham.

CALL OF THE GAME: It wasn't the sexiest play of the game but the Saints' final touchdown - a 17-yard blast by Mark Ingram - not only put the Saints ahead but did so in emphatic fashion. The Texans defense was worn out, having spent the previous seven snaps trying to defend the Saints hurry-up, no-huddle offense out of a spread formation. Payton then chose to mix things up, pounding Ingram straight ahead into the belly of the exhausted Texans defense. Ingram, who'd been on the sideline for previous 14 snaps, entered the game with fresh legs and promptly blasted past the line of scrimmage and through a pair of tackle attempts en route to the end zone for his first career touchdown run.

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Old 09-29-2011, 01:36 PM   #2
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A real nice analysis and a good read ....!
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Old 09-29-2011, 04:00 PM   #3
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Very good stuff. Thanks for posting!
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Old 09-29-2011, 04:34 PM   #4
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That was a great drive down the field on the Ingram TD. I thought for sure the Texans would break through our patched up OL but Brees gave them no time to recover. Kubiak is a good coach but unless he gets more agressive and creative late in th game the Texans will keep missing the playoffs. He had the Saints against the ropes and let them right back in it. Call a timeout, blitz, do something.
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Old 09-29-2011, 04:58 PM   #5
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I think we should do the no huddle/ sugar huddle every drive. With our weapons it would keep the D on it's heels. Only exception would be obvious situations like playing with a nice lead.
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Old 09-29-2011, 05:26 PM   #6
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I think running pony begs for a blitz. But it's not a good percentage when you've got 8 seconds to call and communicate your D. If you have shutdown corners, which the Texans don't, you can't blitz effectively against it.
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Old 09-29-2011, 07:59 PM   #7
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This once again demonstrates the flexibility and intelligence of Sean & Drew. God these guys are good!
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:25 PM   #8
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Well all I have to say is... WOW!!

Why don't we let Drew do this all the time???
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Old 09-29-2011, 10:34 PM   #9
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Sean needs to relinquish control to Drew more often...
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:43 AM   #10
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We have what it takes this year. If we can stay healthy and endure the frustration that surely will insert itself sometime this season, We...


We will see the Packers again!
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