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WhoDat!656 09-20-2012 05:55 PM

After Further Review: Saints air game is ill; the big deal about kneeling ... and more
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is 28th in passer rating, lower than Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and -- yes, even Matt Cassel.

How is that possible?

How can the guy who broke the NFL single-season record for passing yards last season with a passer rating of 110.6, and a player who's lowest rating as a starter in New Orleans is 89.4, have a 71.6 rating through two games?

There are three central reasons I have noticed in watching the Saints live the first week and studying both games on tape. Here they are:

The Sean Payton factor: With Sean Payton suspended for the season, the Saints are without perhaps the most brilliant game-day offensive coach in the league. That matters.

Payton was aggressive as a play-caller and fantastic at making adjustments on the fly. He also provided the perfect checks-and-balances for Brees.

Hey, even the greatest actors need a director for balance. Who is challenging Brees now?

Payton is missed.

Timing: A Saints passing game that has been flawless on occasion in terms of timing has been off a tick. That could be because Brees missed the entire offseason in a contract dispute. Nobody can prove that, but even during the lockout in 2011 he was able to work with his receivers on his own.

This year there was none of that. He didn't throw to his guys until the first day of training camp. Brees stood tall in his contract demands, thus missing all of the offseason work, which opens up the issue as to whether he's at fault for some of the problems.

Take a look at a play from the Saints' loss to the Carolina Panthers last week. What should have been a bang-bang play, a completion for a score to Lance Moore, was an incomplete pass that forced the Saints to settle for a field goal

Inability of Saints receivers to beat man coverage: When the Saints let Robert Meachem leave via free agency, it meant they lost the outside speed threat.

Meachem wasn't a top-level receiver, but his ability to run made defenses play the Saints differently. In the first two games, especially in the first one against the Redskins, the Saints have seen a lot more man coverage.

And the receivers aren't winning. Marques Colston is a good player, but he isn't a burner and is more strong than fast. The Saints say he's being slowed by a foot injury. Moore is more quick than fast. Devery Henderson can run but has questionable hands. Plus, he missed last week's game because of concussion issues.

So what teams have done the first two weeks is to double tight end Jimmy Graham and play a lot more man against the wideouts.

That's why Darren Sproles leads the team with 18 catches and Graham is second with 13. The top outside receiver is Moore with eight catches.

Sproles is a great pass-catching back, and he had 87 catches last season, but 13 in a game is way too many. Against Carolina, Sproles was targeted 14 times and Graham targeted 13. Combined, the outside receivers were targeted a total of 13 times.

Brees threw two interceptions against the Panthers, one returned for a score, and even though he threw for 325 yards it wasn't the usual precision we've come to expect from this future Hall of Fame quarterback.

In two games, Brees has thrown four touchdowns passes and four interceptions. He is on pace for 32 of each. His highest interception total of his career was 22 in 2010. His completion percentage is 54.5. His season-low in his time with the Saints is 64.3 in his first season. He completed 71.2-percent of his passes last season.

This clearly isn't the same offense. And Brees isn't the same quarterback. He did suffer an ankle injury in last week's game, but he finished and looked fine. But that could also be a factor.

That's a lot of issues. The question is can the Saints overcome them.

After Further Review: Saints air game is ill; the big deal about kneeling ... and more - NFL - News, Rumors, Scores, Stats, Fantasy

The Dude 09-20-2012 06:01 PM

Re: After Further Review: Saints air game is ill; the big deal about kneeling ... and more
I didn't realize Drew was looking that bad. Of course a lot of his incompletions could be due to dropped passes. There have been a bunch.

SaintsBro 09-20-2012 06:27 PM

Re: After Further Review: Saints air game is ill; the big deal about kneeling ... and more
This article makes me think that Sproles-as-receiver, 13 times, no handoffs to him, and the heavy reliance on Graham, may be due to the dropsies that everybody else had in week one. So they went with the surer hands in week 2. Not having Devrey, and Colston hurt, and the other guys dropping everything, it kind of gave them not much choice, really. The writer makes good points, but he doesn't seem to grasp the impact of the injuries on how the offense looks and how it's being run, in these two specific games. That is not how the offense is gonna look or how it will be distributed all year.

NonieT 09-20-2012 06:34 PM

Re: After Further Review: Saints air game is ill; the big deal about kneeling ... and more
Like I've been saying, play Roby. He didn't seen to have trouble catching the ball in preseason and he is fast.

westbankdaze 09-20-2012 08:37 PM

We are so screwed.

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