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New Orleans Saints show resolve in last stand vs. Atlanta Falcons: Film Study

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; I'm calling it, "The drive where many New Orleans Saints fans nearly lost their lunch." Nothing short or snappy, but neither was the way the Saints held Atlanta out of the end zone at the end of Sunday's 23-17 win ...

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Old 09-10-2013, 01:57 PM   #1
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I'm calling it, "The drive where many New Orleans Saints fans nearly lost their lunch."

Nothing short or snappy, but neither was the way the Saints held Atlanta out of the end zone at the end of Sunday's 23-17 win over the Falcons. And yet the jubilation of holding off the Falcons reminded me of when Tracy Porter picked off Brett Favre to send the 2009 NFC championship game into overtime.

The occasion may not have been physically as significant, considering Porter's play helped send the Saints to the Super Bowl and Roman Harper's game-clinching interception off the Falcons' Matt Ryan only clinched the Saints a 1-0 record after Week 1.

Psychologically, the goal-line stand matters, and matters a lot for the Saints moving forward. Here's the play-by-play breakdown to kickoff Week 1 of our film study at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune:

(3:12, fourth quarter) First-and-10 at Atlanta's 20: Ryan saw pressure in his face from Akiem Hicks up the middle. Ryan still threw a nice high pass for Julio Jones with Jabari Greer trying to face guard him with his back turned to the play. Jones elevated to make the 17-yard reception.

(2:50) First-and-10 at Atlanta's 37: Cam Jordan was a step or two away from making a play on Ryan. It didn't bother Ryan. Tony Gonzalez broke free from Roman Harper off the line as a slot receiver and Ryan found Gonzalez for a 16-yard connection.

(2:28) First-and-10 at New Orleans' 47: Steven Jackson settled in two yards past the line of scrimmage in what could have easily been a designed screen play as other Falcons receivers ran deeper routes. Harper wrestled down Jackson for a 7-yard pickup.

(2:04) Second-and-3 at New Orleans' 40: The Saints blitzed with seven pass rushers. Ryan quickly found Gonzalez on a flat route all alone near the Falcons sideline. Kenny Vaccaro came back up to make the tackle, but not before a 13-yard gain.

(1:58) First-and-10 at New Orleans' 27: Atlanta tried to fool the Saints with its change-of-pace back Jacquizz Rodgers as he lined up in the shotgun next to Ryan. Then Ryan audibled out of the play going back under center leaving Rodgers in the backfield. Curtis Lofton clogged the hole and was all over the play holding Rodgers for a 1-yard loss on the carry.

(1:34) Second-and-10 at New Orleans' 27: The Saints rushed only four as Atlanta lined up four wide receivers (Roddy White, Gonzalez, Harry Douglas, Jones) and kept Jackson in the backfield. Malcolm Jenkins lined up at cornerback in the slot against Douglas. Douglas separated himself enough from Jenkins on a go route up the seam allowing Ryan to find Douglas for a 20-yard reception. Vaccaro came back up to make the tackle as he and Rafael Bush were essentially defending the goal line playing center field.

(1:09) First-and-goal at New Orleans' 7: The Saints rushed four as Ryan was in the shotgun. Once again, Jenkins defended Douglas in the slot. Douglas ran a 5-yard out route toward the Saints sideline. Douglas was open enough for Ryan to complete the pass, but Ryan simply overthrew Douglas for the incomplete pass.

(1:05) Second-and-goal at New Orleans' 7: Ryan lined up in the shotgun as the Saints rushed four again. Lofton looked like he might be rushing, but was probably defending Steven Jackson for a dump-off pass. Keenan Lewis played off White as he stood at the goal line in the hopes of keeping the play in front of him. It worked. White shortened the route and Ryan found White at the Saints' 6. Lewis, Jenkins and Bush closed in on White, stopping the Falcons wideout at the Saints' 3.

(:54) Third-and-goal at New Orleans' 3: Ryan stood once again in the shotgun, sending Douglas into motion with White, Jones, Gonzalez and Jackson as his other options. Only Junior Galette played with his hand on the ground as the Saints only rushed three defenders. Ryan handled a low snap. Jackson slipped out of the backfield to line up for a screen pass right in front of the goal line. Jackson let the pass bounce right off of him for the incompletion. Ramon Humber hit Jackson right after the initial bobble to give Humber credit for the breakup. Jackson should have made the catch.

(:49) Fourth-and-goal at New Orleans' 3: Ryan lined up in the shotgun. Galette was the only Saints lineman with his hand on the ground. Cam Jordan also played with his hand on the ground to rush, but he came in almost from an inside linebacker spot. Even with only three rushing, Ryan felt heat from Jordan and Lofton as he threw a jump ball off his back foot. Lofton ripped Ryan to the ground as he threw the pass.

Vaccaro tipped the pass, and yet the ball hit Gonzalez in the hands. The ball bounced into the air and into Harper's arms for the game-sealing interception. And as Harper described after the game, Jenkins stood on top of him and basically beat up Harper in celebration of the interception and the win.

Don't forget Rob Ryan going bonkers on the sideline.

Greer said after the game he didn't want to label this sequence as something bigger than what it was at the time. He did admit, though, this defensive performance could be a springboard to establishing the defense's identity. Can't argue with that after an opening stand like that one.

SNAPSHOT OF PLAYS VS. ATLANTA

First quarter

(9:35) Two big chunk plays set up the Falcons' two touchdown drives. This was one of them.

Douglas and Gonzalez lined up on the same side with Harper initially up on Douglas. Gonzalez stayed put almost as a safety valve. Jones went deep on the opposite side. Douglas scooted between Harper and Vaccaro, who were obviously playing zone, and cut right behind Vaccaro and Lofton. Greer ended up chasing Jones on the deep route leaving no one there to slow down Douglas.

(8:40) Matt Ryan scrambled right leaving Lofton with a decision: allow Ryan to run or try to chase him down, risking a pass right through him. Lofton went with the latter and left Gonzalez. Once Ryan saw Gonzalez open for a split second, he found Gonzalez near the goal line. Hawthorne reached Gonzalez too late to make a play and Gonzalez meandered over for his patented dunk over the goal post for a 7-yard TD.

(6:10) Pierre Thomas' 3-yard reception on a screen pass sure looked like he actually gained 4 yards as his knee never touched down before reaching the first-down marker. Thomas' knee actually rested on Sean Weatherspoon's helmet. Saints didn't challenge the spot, and missed on fourth down. More to come later in film study on the fourth-down play when I dive into Mark Ingram's carries.

Second quarter

(10:53) Greer may have received credit during the game for the forced fumble on Jones to create the Saints' first turnover of the short season. But Jenkins finished off the strip with his right arm allowing Harper to pick up his first of two takeaways. Greer initially contacted the ball with his left hand while trying to wrestle down Jones.

(9:16) The offense capped off the turnover with a familiar sight: Brees to Colston for a TD. Colston lined up in the slot with two other wideouts to his route. Colston simply cruised past Akeem Dent and Brees threw the ball in the perfect spot for a diving Colston. Vintage.

(5:11) Kenny Stills shook off Robert McClain right off the line with a great release. Brees threw a strike to Stills for the 2013 fifth-round pick's first NFL reception on a 67-yard gain. Jahri Evans' consecutive holding penalties stalled the drive. More on that later as well.

Third quarter

(14:16) Brees couldn't avoid everyone flying at him for his 11-yard sack near the start of the third quarter. Robert Alford flew in on a blitz and Sproles blocked him in time. But Jonathan Babineaux bulled past Evans to disrupt the play. Finally, Brown couldn't hold off Peters any longer to pick up the sack. Brown picked up the right player as Osi Umenyiora dropped back into coverage. Evans' failed assignment blew the play up.

(13:08) Here's chunk play No. 2 to set up touchdown No. 2.

The defensive line clogged the middle where the play was intended to go for Jackson. But Jackson bounced around the edge of the line. Gonzalez sealed off Vaccaro, while Harper was well behind Jackson already as he came in on a blitz. The 50-yard run tied the Douglas catch in the first half as the longest Falcons play from scrimmage.

(11:45) Jones simply beat Corey White on the route to haul in the 4-yard TD pass. Broadcast circled Vaccaro as having to pick whether to double cover Gonzalez or stay back for a deeper crossing route. Tough choice for Vaccaro.

(9:44) Sproles lined up behind Colston as a receiver. William Moore took on Sproles in coverage as Sproles cut to the sideline about a yard from the line of scrimmage. Then Sproles shot up the sideline on a wheel route. Moore held pretty good coverage, but Brees floated the ball right over the outstretched arms and Sproles hauled in the pass for 22 yards. Such a good throw and catch.

(9:14) One of the few bad plays by Charles Brown. Peria Jerry stunted and Brown lost track of him after he and Ben Grubbs initially blocked Babineaux. Brown grabbed hold of Jerry for the holding call as Jerry hovered near Brees. Not completely sure if Brees felt the pressure, but he underthrew Lance Moore and then William Moore dropped an easy interception. Saints were VERY fortunate considering this drive ended with a Saints touchdown.

(6:29) Graham sold play-action by staying in to block Kroy Biermann. Graham then released to open himself up for the quick pass. Then it's mano-y-mano with Thomas DeCoud. DeCoud grabbed hold of Graham at the Falcons 4. Graham shed DeCoud just in time to balance himself and place the ball around the pylon for the touchdown. Maybe I'm looking at this differently because Fox analyst Moose Johnson said DeCoud was late in coverage. I feel like Graham sold it well. Whatever.

(4:47) Alford ran stride for stride with Colston on a crossing route. To me, the ball was slightly behind Colston enough for Alford to initially grab the football. Alford won the wrestling match at the end for the interception. Credit Alford more than blaming anyone.

Fourth quarter

(7:20) This time Sproles lined up in the backfield with Brees in shotgun. He sprinted straight out for a deep route. Paul Worrilow came running over trying to get somewhere near Sproles knowing he has no chance. Brees finds Sproles for a 32-yard reception.

(6:48) Brees' second sack. Umenyiora and Biermann switched sides right before the snap. Watson was looking for someone to block. That someone was Umenyiora. Jed Collins could have blocked Umenyiora, but he went out for a screen pass. Umenyiora was unblocked in Brees' face. Brees eluded him, but Jerry beat Evans on the back end, allowing Jerry to sack Brees just as Brees shed off Umenyiora.

(6:14) The sack placed the Saints at a third-and-14 at the Falcons' 31. Colston slid into the zone right behind Dent for a 19-yard gain. Perfect pass and Colston held on to the football after taking a shot from William Moore. Vintage play No. 2. Although Atlanta held the Saints to a field goal, extending the drive made life easier for Garrett Hartley.

BLITZ REPORT (JUST COUNTING PASS PLAYS)

Even though Rob Ryan may be considered a blitz-happy defensive coordinator, the Saints only rushed more than four players at Ryan 14 times when the Falcons quarterback stepped back to pass.

Here are Ryan's results against the blitz:

First quarter

- Douglas 11-yard reception

- Jones 4-yard reception

- Douglas 50-yard reception

- Bradie Ewing 15-yard reception

Second quarter

- Incomplete screen to Jackson

- White 15-yard reception

- Jones 21-yard reception

- Junior Galette blows by Gonzalez for a sack

- Incomplete pass, Ryan called for intentional grounding

Third quarter

- John Jenkins broke through, incomplete pass to Douglas in the end zone

- Jones 4-yard TD reception pass TD

- Parys Haralson sack. David Hawthorne busted up the gut, but Haralson actually bullrushed Sam Baker. Not sure if blitzing or not would have mattered since Haralson won the play with a one-on-one battle.

- Hicks sack. Wouldn't say the blitz cause the sack either as Hicks beat Holmes in a one-on-one battle to sack Ryan for an 8-yard loss.

Fourth quarter

- Gonzalez slipped free for a 13-yard reception as the Saints sent the house on the final Falcons drive.

Here are Ryan's results without the Saints blitzing:

First quarter

- Incomplete pass

- Gonzalez 7-yard TD reception

- Jackson 3-yard reception

- Incomplete pass to Jones out of the back of the end zone forcing a field goal (Galette pressured from the blindside, Walker knocked Ryan down. Harper had real tight coverage on Gonzalez, while Greer and Jenkins bracketed Jones.)

Second quarter

- Jones 22-yard reception, lost fumble

- Jackson 16-yard reception

- Rodgers 3-yard reception

- Jones 3-yard reception

- Incomplete pass (Tom Johnson with the pressure to force incompletion on third-and-4. Cam Jordan was also there)

- Douglas 12-yard reception

- Incomplete pass for Gonzalez

Third quarter

- Jones 4-yard reception

- Incomplete for Snelling. (Jordan blew past Lamar Holmes flustering Ryan to force the incompletion)

- Incomplete pass (Jordan and Galette each beat their man forcing Ryan to scramble to his right to throw the ball away)

- Snelling 9-yard reception (Forced a punt)

Fourth quarter

- Jackson 17-yard reception

- Jackson 2-yard reception

- Incomplete pass (Galette beat Baker forcing Ryan to back pedal)

- Douglas 17-yard reception, negated by holding penalty on Baker (Galette beat Baker again)

- Snelling 8-yard reception (Jordan's pass rush forced Ryan out of the pocket for a dump-off pass to force a punt)

- Jones 17-yard reception (start of final drive)

- Gonzalez 16-yard reception

- Jackson 7-yard reception

- Douglas 20-yard reception

- Incomplete pass

- White 3-yard reception

- Incomplete pass to Jackson

- Incomplete pass to Gonzalez to complete goal line stand

IS IT ALL ON MARK INGRAM?

I understand Saints fans have been waiting for Mark Ingram to become a consistent force in the running game. He didn't start off super swell with 11 yards on nine carries in Sunday's win. So I took a glimpse at all of Ingram's carries from Sunday:

First quarter

12:39 - An off-tackle right end run. Collins couldn't quite reach DeCoud in time. Ingram gained 3 yards.

5:33 - Fourth-down run. Harris lined up as tackle eligible. Zach Strief missed on a block forcing Collins to pick up the defender. The defender pushed Collins into Ingram in the backfield, blowing up the play. Dent and Weatherspoon swooped in where Collins may have been if he hadn't stayed to help Strief. Ingram stopped for a 1-yard loss. No chance. Not on Ingram.

Second quarter

12:01 - First and 10. Brees audibled to a run play up the gut. De la Puente, Grubbs, Collins with solid blocking. Ingram tripped up for a 7-yard gain (longest of the day).

11:35 - Grubbs is pushed back by Babineaux forcing Ingram to move outside. A swarm of Falcons await Ingram from there. Ingram was visibly upset after the 4-yard loss.

4:19 - A run between Evans and Strief for 3-yard gain

Third quarter

14:56 - Brown sealed off Umenyiora to create a hole, but Ingram just fell over into the back of de la Puente. A 2-yard gain.

Fourth quarter

13:41 - Graham was pushed back, Watson couldn't hold off Umenyiora. Trufant came up to push Ingram out of bounds for a 3-yard play.

8:43 - Ingram with a 3-yard loss. Babineaux destroyed Grubbs to completely blow up the play. Ingram was forced to scramble around the backfield. Other Atlanta defenders corral him. Ingram had no chance.

5:23 - William Moore made a great play flying in from safety to stop Ingram after Ingram did find the hole. 2-yard gain for Ingram.

You be the judge.

ZEBRA REPORT

Not too much to bicker about outside of the bad spot for Thomas in the first quarter.

- Vaccaro's unsportsmanlike penalty was pretty obvious as he hit Ryan in the process of sliding in the first quarter.

- Evans grazed Babineaux with his right arm and whipped Babineaux around drawing a second consecutive holding call. Pretty ticky-tacky call. Announcers didn't agree with the call, and I didn't, either. It was the second consecutive holding call on Evans, and Evans deserved the first one.

PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS FILE

This season ProFootballFocus.com has been kind enough to provide NFL beat writers with weekly gradebooks for the respective team he or she covers. So here are a few tidbits from PFF's outlook from the Saints-Falcons game:

Offensive summary

- Clean sheet in pass protection from Strief, also highest-graded offensive player.

- Evans really struggled in run blocking. Lowest overall grade ever given to him (since 2008).

- Brees was almost perfect when blitzed. He tallied a 90.9 percent completion rate and a 149.1 QB rating when Falcons sent extra rushers.

- Even split of carries between Thomas, Ingram, and Sproles. Thomas much better on his nine rushes.

- Sproles with a catch on all six targets.

- No drops. The Saints had just one game without a drop last season (Week 11 at Oakland).

- Offensive line allowed eight pressures in 38 passing plays. Among the best pass-blocking efficiency ratings through nine games graded by PFF.

Defensive summary

- Great game for Jordan. Team-high eight pressures.

- Hawthorne and Galette also graded well - both played less than 60 percent of defensive snaps.

- Brodrick Bunkley with two negative plays in seven snaps before going down.

- Defense missed five tackles after averaging eight per game last season.

- Lofton targeted nine times, mostly against Atlanta's backs.

- Harper surrendered just 29 yards in coverage against Gonzalez.

- Defense pressured Matt Ryan on close to 48 percent of his drop backs.

PARTICIPATION REPORT (VIA OFFICIAL STATBOOK FROM NFL)

OFFENSE

Evans - 69 offensive plays, 100 percent of the offensive plays; 5 special teams snaps, 19 percent of special teams snaps

Strief - 69, 100%; 5, 19%

Grubbs - 69, 100%; 5, 19%

Brown - 69, 100%; 5 19%

De La Puente - 69, 100%

Brees - 69, 100%

Graham - 58, 84%

Moore - 52, 75%

Colston - 51, 74%

Stills - 36, 52%

Collins - 33, 48%

Sproles - 31, 45%; 10, 37%

Watson - 23, 33%; 5, 19%

Thomas - 21, 30%

Ingram - 18, 26%; 4 15%

Toon - 14, 20%

Hill - 3, 4%; 24 89%

Harris - 3, 4%; 9, 33%

DEFENSE

Harper - 2 (offense), 3%; 49 (defense), 88%; 9 (special teams); 33%

Vaccaro - 56 (defense), 100%; 11 (special teams), 41%

M. Jenkins - 56, 100%; 6, 22%

Lofton - 56, 100%; 3, 11%

Jordan - 56, 100%; 3, 11%

Greer - 55, 98%; 4, 15%

Lewis - 42, 75%

Galette - 33, 59%; 1, 4%

Hicks - 32, 57%; 7, 26%

T. Johnson - 31, 55%

J. Jenkins - 25, 45%; 1, 4%

Haralson - 23, 41%; 3, 11%

Hawthorne - 23, 41%; 3, 11%

Bush - 22, 39%; 19, 70%

P. Robinson - 18, 32%; 6, 22%

Walker - 13, 23%; 2, 7%

White - 10, 18%; 22, 81%

Bunkley - 7, 12%

Reddick - 5, 9%; 19, 70%

Humber - 2, 4%; 22, 81%

Herring - 2, 4%; 22, 81%

Cadet - 15 (special teams snaps); 56%

Sweeting - 12, 44%

Morstead - 10, 37%

Lelito - 8, 30%

Drescher - 8, 30%

Hartley - 5, 19%

McCown - 4, 15%

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Old 09-10-2013, 06:41 PM   #2
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Re: New Orleans Saints show resolve in last stand vs. Atlanta Falcons: Film Study

It's a long read but Holder does an excellent job
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:08 PM   #3
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Re: New Orleans Saints show resolve in last stand vs. Atlanta Falcons: Film Study

It is a long read. It is a GOOD read.

More!
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:48 PM   #4
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Re: New Orleans Saints show resolve in last stand vs. Atlanta Falcons: Film Study

Great Info.
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:01 AM   #5
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Re: New Orleans Saints show resolve in last stand vs. Atlanta Falcons: Film Study

Originally Posted by TheOak View Post
It's a long read but Holder does an excellent job
I'd like to see him contrast PT's blocking as well.

Poor Mark, I know he's getting frustrated. Its almost comical how many defenders are in his face when he gets the hand-off.

Another site (I won't mention) detailed all his hand-offs with still-shots. It was amazing how horrible the O-line was.

I think eventually a defender will actually snatch the hand-off from Brees and Ingram will have to make the tackle.
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:17 AM   #6
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Re: New Orleans Saints show resolve in last stand vs. Atlanta Falcons: Film Study

Ingram was trying to make miracles out of a terrible situation, at one point there were 4 defenders in the backfield, I dont blame him for being frustrated, any one of us would be the same if every time we got the ball we got hit by 3 guys for a 4 yard loss

Like i said in another thread, its no suprise that when jahri, grubbs and charles brown all struggle at certain times that we can't gain yards

However when the blocking is good, ingram can't be tripping over and only getting two yards, that wont do
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"Ryan......INTERCEPTED....going back the other way with Jabari Greer......TOUCHDOWN....KILLER TOUCHDOWN for the saints!!!"
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:05 AM   #7
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New Orleans Saints show resolve in last stand vs. Atlanta Falcons: Film Study

So..... It looks like the line is caving on Ingram but not PT?

If so, that is how the line "communicates" with someone that has pissed it off. Is been over two long and frustrating years for Ingram, if he blamed the line too harshly this could be retaliation.

After all, we are talking about arguably the best OG in the league.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:36 AM   #8
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Re: New Orleans Saints show resolve in last stand vs. Atlanta Falcons: Film Study

Originally Posted by TheOak View Post
So..... It looks like the line is caving on Ingram but not PT?

If so, that is how the line "communicates" with someone that has pissed it off. Is been over two long and frustrating years for Ingram, if he blamed the line too harshly this could be retaliation.

After all, we are talking about arguably the best OG in the league.
Ingram had a couple runs where the line was perfectly fine, one went for 7 yards, one he tripped over and gained 2 and then another jed collins didnt pick up the blitzing safety and ingram got smacked

But i saw two runs in particular that the line crumbled, one was the one i mentioned and another ingram had to run outside and lost 4 yards

PT is the man and i'm not saying its either all the lines fault or all ingrams fault, they both share the blame, the line cant let guys into the backfield like that and ingram cant leave those yards on the field, its frustrating to watch when you want the guy to do well and im trying not to make excuses for him and just saying what i see

It true it has been a couple inconsistent years for ingram and his time here could be running out if it doesnt change but the whole unit - O line including jed collins and ingram need to do a better job

"Ryan......INTERCEPTED....going back the other way with Jabari Greer......TOUCHDOWN....KILLER TOUCHDOWN for the saints!!!"
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:31 PM   #9
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Re: New Orleans Saints show resolve in last stand vs. Atlanta Falcons: Film Study

The O-line better step it up.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:19 PM   #10
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New Orleans Saints show resolve in last stand vs. Atlanta Falcons: Film Study

Originally Posted by dizzle88 View Post
Ingram had a couple runs where the line was perfectly fine, one went for 7 yards, one he tripped over and gained 2 and then another jed collins didnt pick up the blitzing safety and ingram got smacked

But i saw two runs in particular that the line crumbled, one was the one i mentioned and another ingram had to run outside and lost 4 yards

PT is the man and i'm not saying its either all the lines fault or all ingrams fault, they both share the blame, the line cant let guys into the backfield like that and ingram cant leave those yards on the field, its frustrating to watch when you want the guy to do well and im trying not to make excuses for him and just saying what i see

It true it has been a couple inconsistent years for ingram and his time here could be running out if it doesnt change but the whole unit - O line including jed collins and ingram need to do a better job
Some where in this bastion of opinions and information we call BlackandGold, I have identified Ingram's first season as being one durring the Lock Out (2010
no preseason), second season no Sean Payton or Drew for preseason (Drew's contract and Bountygate). I also said I would give him a pass on those two seasons due to those reasons. I've carried him on my FF team since his rookie season (I stopped this season), hoping and wanting him to get better. I don't think anyone wants Ingram to fail, his success equates to Saints success.

That said I will be extremely critical of him this season because Mark Ingram succeeding is important, but not more important than the team or winning, and he needs to make the most out of every touch if he wants more.

I don't believe in punting just to give someone more carries.

Lol he is actually pretty consistent. Not many backs can do back to back years with the same exact YPC, down to one place beyond the decimal.
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