ReFo: Saints @ Packers, Week 4
New Orleans - Three Performances of Note
A significant concern entering Sunday’s game was abated as the Saints’ offensive line was outstanding in containing Clay Matthews. He rushed from all over the line, but had little success as the Saints utilized chips and double teams to slow him down, though they comfortably handled the fearsome pass rusher. While he was impressive against the run, Matthews didn’t get to Drew Brees until 1:29 of the third quarter.
On the right side, a week after struggling to block Justin Houston, Zach Strief had a stellar bounce-back performance. He gave up two hurries, failing to keep up with speed rushes from Matthews and Nick Perry.
At left tackle, Jermon Bushrod logged his first positive grade in pass protection this season, coming in at +1.5. Pass blocking on 56 Brees’ drop-backs, he allowed just three pressures, two of them coming from Matthews. On an attempted screen at 13:15 in the fourth quarter, Matthews used the threat of a speed rush to set Bushrod up outside and then beat him on an inside spin move, though the pressure was inconsequential as the rest of the Green Bay front seven read and shut down the play before it even had a chance. On his second pressure, Matthews was able to drive Bushrod back, preventing Brees from avoiding CJ Wilson in the middle of the pocket.
Ben Grubbs (-0.2 pass block) had the offensive line’s worst performance in pass protection, allowing two sacks on a bull rush and a failed stunt pick up, though he allowed no other pressures.
While New Orleans didn’t manage to come away with the win, the team should be encouraged by the improved offensive line play, which they need to sustain if they want that elusive first victory.
Where’s the Pass Rush?
The Saints pass rush continues to be anemic under Steve Spagnuolo. Aaron Rodgers routinely had plenty of time to find his receivers and more than enough space to escape the pocket on the occasions that he saw pressure, with Green Bay rarely leaving in extra blockers. Left defensive end Cameron Jordan (-3.6 pass rush) has been stout against the run, but managed just one pressure in 46 pass rushes, which came from the inside against guard Josh Sitton. On the right side, Will Smith wasn’t much better, disrupting Rodgers three times (one hit, two hurries) in 45 snaps rushing the passer. Reserve Junior Galette managed two pressures, though he only rushed the passer 22 times.
The few times the rush did get to Rodgers, they were unable to bring him down: No play was more devastating than at 9:09 of the first quarter, when a Smith pressure forced Rodgers out of the pocket: Brodrick Bunkley had a sack opportunity, but dove at the quarterback’s feet, causing him to merely stumble before finding James Jones in the end zone.
It’s safe to say that the Saints have to improve at getting to the quarterback. Blitzing more often may be the only option, as the front four has shown little ability to get consistent pressure.
Brees to Colston
One of the best quarterback-receiver combos in recent years got back on track against the Packers. Hobbled in the first three games, Marques Colston (+2.3 receiving) failed to make much of an impact. However on Sunday he got back to the Colston we’re used to seeing. He caught 9-of-13, good for 153 yards with nine of his targets coming in the middle of the field, where he did much of his work with crossing and seam routes. He victimized Tramon Williams, Morgan Burnett, and Sam Shields, catching eight of his passes against them, though he may have gotten away with a push off on Burnett on his touchdown reception.
Brees’ other huge target, Jimmy Graham, was reliable as usual, catching 7-of-9 targets, eight of which were between the numbers.
Re: ReFo: Saints @ Packers, Week 4
I can't even remember the last time I saw one of our players do a spin move, a real rip, or some good aggressive chopping with the arms, knock an O-line guy on his butt, or LET ALONE God forbid, setting up the use of one pass-rushing move by feinting another, like Matthews was doing -- faking an offensive line out using deception, and beating the opposing O-lineman with some kind of element of surprise. Am I wrong? It just seems like there's never anything going on with our defensive players but a weak and anemic bull rush, where they just lock up and get manhandled by the other team's O-line.
I watch our defense on clips of these plays that the other team runs, like that Jamaal Charles 91-yard touchdown run -- I look at them and they look like TEXTBOOK examples, they LITERALLY look like they are from a textbook showing how a play is supposed to work -- this guy blocks that guy, this guy blocks that guy, this guy pushes this other guy out of the way, and then the running back rolls through untouched. It's not supposed to be that easy in the NFL. You could actually teach offense to little pee wee kids, using film of the Saints defense as an example of what to do.
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