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papz 09-25-2012 06:48 AM

ReFo: Chiefs @ Saints, Week 3
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New Orleans – Three Performances of Note

Trouble Up Front

Coming into the game, we told you that a key for the Saints would be how left tackle Jermon Bushrod handled Tamba Hali. While Bushrod allowed five pressures, perhaps we should’ve focused on the matchup on the other side of the line, where Zach Strief (-2.7) was on the opposite end of Justin Houston’s monster game. Strief was responsible for five pressures, including two sacks. None of these pressures was worse than the sack allowed for a safety late in the game. On the play, Strief didn’t even slow Houston as he went around the edge far too easily, giving Brees little chance to get rid of the ball.

Inconsistent Offense

Three games, three largely uninspired performances from Drew Brees. Although he played better this week, Brees (+3.8) still wasn’t quite as sharp as he needed to be. Early in the game, he underthrew a wide open Devery Henderson. Henderson still caught the ball for a 36-yard gain, but it was underthrown just enough that Brandon Flowers could recover and make the tackle. Another miss came on a throw to Pierre Thomas in the red zone when Brees, under pressure on the play, just tossed the ball short, though Thomas almost made a spectacular catch. Like the other two examples, his lone interception was also slightly underthrown, allowing the defender to make a play on the ball. On this particular play, Henderson was well covered by Stanford Routt, but a perfect pass to the outside shoulder could have gone for a TD–a pass we’ve seen this QB make many times. Even though these misses were slight, they were misses that Brees can’t afford to make given the team’s other problems.

Speaking of other problems, the receivers dropped four passes, with Jimmy Graham (-1.5) adding two for the second straight week, while the offensive line allowed pressure on 15 of Brees’ 40 drop backs. The run game never got going either; outside of a 47-yard run by Darren Sproles, the Saints were held to two yards per carry on 18 attempts.

Worn Down Defense

A lot of the blame for the loss can be put on the offense, which repeatedly put the defense on the field with little rest and in poor field position toward the end of the game. However, there were plenty of errors on a defense that allowed over 270 yards on the ground. While LB Curtis Lofton (-3.1) contributed seven stops included in his 11 overall tackles, he took himself completely out of plays with terrible angles, looking nothing like the player we saw in Atlanta and in the first two weeks. By no means were the issues unique to Lofton, as Saints defenders repeatedly overran plays and took poor angles, creating big holes for Jamaal Charles.

One of the bright spots was the play of rookie DT Akiem Hicks, who put in his second strong performance in a row, logging 42 snaps. The third-round pick out of Canada, predicted to be a project, has contributed quicker than expected and looks to be developing into one of the better players on the New Orleans defensive line.

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