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New Orleans Saints offense takes advantage of another impressive defensive stand: Film Study

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Another week, another make-or-break final sequence for the New Orleans Saints. This time around, the Saints' offense and defense created their own breaks against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final 2:24 in Sunday's 16-14 win at Raymond James Stadium. ...

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Old 09-17-2013, 12:12 PM   #1
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Another week, another make-or-break final sequence for the New Orleans Saints. This time around, the Saints' offense and defense created their own breaks against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final 2:24 in Sunday's 16-14 win at Raymond James Stadium.

The Saints were one first down away from being toast. Tampa Bay came back to the field after the two-minute warning needing only six yards to put New Orleans away and the Saints only possessed one timeout.

How the Saints responded was reminiscent of the way their fortunes changed in the 2009 season on the road against teams like Miami and Washington.

(2:00) The Saints hadn't stopped Bucs running back Doug Martin all day. Then, linebacker David Hawthorne disrupted the play, allowing a swarm of Saints defenders to halt Martin for no gain on second-and-6 from the Saints' 32. The Saints called their final timeout.

(1:56) Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman faked going to his left and pitched the ball right to Martin. Galette contained Martin forcing the Bucs tailback back inside. Galette got his hands on Martin and nearly makes a tackle at the line of scrimmage. Martin slipped away, but not far enough away as John Jenkins made the stop for only a 3-yard gain on third-and-6. The Bucs called their final timeout to talk it over.

(1:10) Bucs coach Greg Schiano elected to have kicker Rian Lindell attempt a 47-yard field goal. Cue "The Price is Right" sounder as Lindell hook the ball right. The Saints took over at their own 37 with no timeouts left.

(1:06) Jimmy Graham started up the seam like he had many times Sunday, but instead used a crossing pattern to find space for a 15-yard gain with Dashon Goldson on him in coverage. Drew Brees threw the ball behind Graham as he made the bobbling grab.

(:47) Brees dumped the ball off to Darren Sproles for a designed screen play for an 8-yard gain down to the Bucs' 40.

(:24) Marques Colston lined up as the middle receiver with three receivers lined up on the right side of the formation (Graham closest to the line, Kenny Stills on the outside). Colston darted straight up the field to somehow beat Bucs cornerback Leonard Johnson for the catch as Johnson held tight coverage on Colston. Brees threw his best pass of the troublesome day right there as Colston came down with the 31-yard reception.

(:06) Brees spiked the ball to set up the field goal.

(:05) Garrett Hartley drilled the 27-yarder right up the gut. Game over.

So how far can a sequence like the one where the Saints' defense gave the offense one more chance to win the game take this team moving forward?

"Far," tackle Zach Strief said. "First of all, the defense, look, they're three yards away from that game being over, right? So everyone will look at this and say, 'Offense goes down, big play, Colston, Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham.' All the names that we talk about. And yet I look at it and say Junior Galette. A young player all revved up in a big situation and keeps contain on essentially a trick play on the third down and keeps him in and keeps contain.

Drew Brees on game-winning drive Saints quarterback Drew Brees talks about leading the team down the field in the final minute for the game-winning field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, September 15, 2013.

"Obviously a big stop. You give yourself a chance. You force them into a long field goal rather than letting them run the game out. So it's confidence over there. And over on the other side of the ball we say, 'Man, we made a lot of mistakes and this is our chance to make up for it.'"


First quarter

(11:20) Ben Grubbs pulls off the line of scrimmage toward the right leaving Brian de la Puente and Charles Brown responsible for picking up the Bucs' Gerald McCoy. It didn't happen. McCoy split right between Brown and de la Puente as Brees took his first of four sacks. De la Puente ended up face first on the ground as McCoy blew past him.

(8:11) The Bucs' Dekoda Watson drifted back into coverage as Tampa Bay appeared to be in zone coverage. Watson read Brees' eyes as the Saints quarterback targeted Lance Moore. Simply a poor decision by Brees since he had all kinds of time to throw the football.

(5:20) Keenan Lewis sat back off the Bucs' Kevin Ogletree along the goal line with Tampa Bay at the Saints' 5. Ogletree immediately cuts left off the line with Vincent Jackson cutting right from his slot receiver spot at the Saints' 3 with Malcolm Jenkins in on the coverage. The immediate cut left Lewis several yards away from Ogletree as the Bucs wideout was wide open across the middle for the touchdown. Freeman threw the pass just over the outstretched arms of Roman Harper as he came in on a blitz.

(2:46) Brees killed the original play at the line of scrimmage. Smart decision. Graham came off the line in a traditional tight end spot and threw his hand up about five yards off the line of scrimmage to signal he's open on the go route up the seam. It's almost as if Watson let Graham run by him as if someone would help him on the back end. No one was there as Graham sprinted for an easy 56-yard TD reception. Busted play on defense and an easy pitch and catch for Brees and Graham.

Second quarter (I touch on all three Bucs unsportsmanlike penalties in the second quarter in the Zebra Report)

(1:56) It's pretty amazing to see Graham bounce back from the blatant shot by Ahmad Black two plays later to haul in a 29-yard reception to place the Saints at the Bucs' 1. Graham lined up with his hand on the ground in a traditional tight end spot and just flew past Goldson up the seam.

(1:23) Graham and Jed Collins were the only options for Brees on the pass play on first-and-goal from the Bucs' 1. The Bucs picked up both players in coverage, forcing Brees to throw the ball away into the stands. Mark Barron stuck with Collins, while Watson and Darrelle Revis bracketed Graham.

(1:17) Brees pitched the ball to Mark Ingram. The Bucs read the play. Graham could only block one of the three Tampa Bay defenders as they came bearing down on Ingram. The Saints taiback couldn't beat Goldson to the outside, so Ingram tried to run through Goldson. No chance. Goldson stood up Ingram and a host of other Bucs swarmed Ingram for a 1-yard loss.

(1:12) Three wide receivers along with Graham lined up on third-and-goal from the Bucs' 2. De la Puente struggles initially at the point of attack as the Bucs defender forced Thomas more toward the outside than the play called for. By that time, Adrian Clayborn is hovering and a pile of Bucs defenders led by Revis gang-tackle Thomas for a 2-yard gain to the Bucs' 1.

(:20) The Bucs jumped offside on the Hartley field goal attempt pushing Sean Payton to go for it. Payton said he should receive the blame for what happened in the final sequence of plays, but Mark Ingram's two failed runs are what fans will recall.

Ingram rushed left with Collins as his lead blocker. Collins and Grubbs make their blocks as Ingram has to hurdle de la Puente, who's sprawled out on the ground. So there was a hole for Ingram to run through.

Bucs linebacker Mason Foster met Ingram just before the goal line to drive Ingram backwards short of the end zone. Foster simply overpowered Ingram. The Bucs' Lavonte David wrapped up Ingram from the backside as Foster stood him up. The Bucs make the stop with only 10 players on the field.

Third quarter

(11:59) Cam Jordan came around from Freeman's blindside to make the sack fumble. Jordan beats Bucs tackle Donald Penn around the edge and raked at the ball, causing the ball to flutter in the air. Galette scooped up the loose ball. It was Jordan's first sack of the season despite having multiple quarterback hurries through the first two games.

(8:44) David basically threw Sproles out of the way as Sproles tried to pick up the blitzing David. All Brees could do was fall to the deck.

(7:13) Kenny Vaccaro ought to send Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson a thank you card for lining up slightly too far off the line of scrimmage. It wiped away the 73-yard TD reception from Freeman to Jackson. Vaccaro said after the game he had his "Welcome to the NFL moment" on a play that was erased by a penalty. Jackson simply played the ball and Vaccaro didn't on the deep jump ball.

(5:38) Malcolm Jenkins read the pass from the onset essentially sprinting in from center field to make the interception off Freeman in stride. Lewis was on the coverage of Jackson and Jenkins jumped in front of all of them. It's only Week 2, but it's safe to say Jenkins is more comfortable in this defense.

(3:55) Former LSU wideout Russell Shepard might want to put a hand on Corey White when White lines up as a gunner. Shepard never touched White allowing the Saints cornerback to make a sliding catch on Thomas Morstead's punt at the Bucs' 4. Great special teams play by White.

Fourth quarter

(13:06) Brees lucked out on a screen pass to Collins. Clayborn read the play and should have intercepted the pass. He could have ended up with a pick six. Brees wasn't so fortunate on the next play.

(13:01) Brees was already unsure about what he wanted to audible to as he killed the play. He called timeout instead. The timeout didn't help. David stunted from the outside to right up the middle to pressure and hit Brees as he threw the ball. There had to be some miscommunication as Graham stood at the Bucs' 10 with his head turned as Foster picked off the ball at the Tampa 15. Graham ran a stop-and-go route. Brees threw it as a stop route.

Foster initially picks up a block from Clayborn on Thomas to open the return. Foster stiff-armed Grubbs around the 30. Foster then scooted around Charles Brown and Strief along the sideline and Black sealed off Evans. From there, Foster had three Bucs around him with Brees being the only Saints player in front of him. David pushed Brees away.

Thomas hustled back to the play from behind and dove onto Foster's back at the Saints' 10. Foster shed Thomas' dive. Robert Meachem also came back into the play at the Saints' 2 and tried to tackle Foster low, but Foster dove over Meachem to land in the end zone for one of the more impressive interception returns you'll see this season for the touchdown to take the lead.


This week I charted every dropback by Brees to see how he handled a swarming Bucs pass rush. The Bucs didn't blitz all that much, but they spent much of the day faking blitz and sending rushers in from different spots.

Here are Brees' results when the Bucs blitzed:

First quarter

- Colston 13-yard reception, but a Bucs defender hammered Brees right after the throw

- Incomplete pass to Sproles

- Incomplete on a deep ball to Meachem as Daniel Te'o-Nesheim hits Brees as he lets the ball fly

Second quarter

- Fleaflicker, incomplete to Colston

- Graham 18-yard reception; good blitz pickup by Thomas

Third quarter

- Incomplete pass to Graham; David came in untouched as Brees avoided the sack

- Brees sacked by David

- Colston 4-yard reception (maybe more like the Bucs reacted to play-action rather than blitzed)

Fourth quarter

- Brees sacked, Barron came flying in on a delayed blitz up the middle as he and David sandwiched Brees

Brees' stats: Nine dropbacks, 3-7 passing, 35 yards, two sacks

Here are Brees' results when the Bucs didn't blitz:

First quarter

- Colston 15-yard reception

- Incomplete pass to Graham

- Graham 21-yard reception

- Incomplete pass to Colston

- Brees sacked

- Brees intercepted by Dekoda Watson

- Sproles 6-yard reception out of a pistol formation

- Graham 7-yard reception

- Graham 6-yard reception

- Graham 56-yard TD reception

Second quarter

- Brees sack-fumble by Clayborn, fumble negated by unnecessary roughness penalty on Clayborn

- Incomplete pass to Sproles, but Goldson picks up an unnecessary roughness penalty

- Sproles 4-yard reception

- Sproles 6-yard reception

- Incomplete pass to Moore

- Thomas 4-yard reception

- Thomas 8-yard reception

- Incomplete pass to Moore

- Graham 11-yard reception

- Graham 8-yard reception

- Incomplete pass to Graham, unnecessary roughness penalty on Ahmad Black

- Sproles 4-yard reception

- Graham 29-yard reception

- Incomplete pass

Third quarter

- Incomplete pass to Thomas

- Moore 15-yard reception

- Thomas 6-yard reception

- Incomplete pass, Evans called for holding, no play

- Thomas 1-yard reception

- Incomplete pass to Graham

- Graham 8-yard reception

Fourth quarter

- Incomplete pass to Stills, Barron called for pass interference, no play

- Incomplete pass to Collins

- Foster 85-yard interception TD return

- Incomplete pass for Ingram

- Sproles 8-yard reception

- Incomplete pass to Graham

- Stills 10-yard reception

- Incomplete pass for Colston

- Graham 15-yard reception

- Sproles 8-yard reception

- Colston 31-yard reception

Brees' stats: 42 dropbacks, 23-38, 287 yards, one TD, two INTs, two sacks


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-Bucs game:

Offensive Summary

- The entire offense, particularly the line, graded surprisingly well.

- Strief and Brown combined to allow just two QB disruptions in 52 pass blocking snaps.

- Ingram managed to be the only player graded in the red (negative grade).

- Ben Watson played 20 snaps, but ran a route on just two of them.

- Brees was miserable under pressure: 27.3 percent completion rate, 2.3 yards per attempt.

- Saints averaged 4.1 yards per carry rushing to the interior A-and B-gaps compared to 2.8 yards per carry to the left or right edge.

- Only 13 of Brees' 42 aimed passes were thrown to receivers.

- The bulk of Graham's work (seven catches, 141 yards) came against Tampa's safeties Barron and Goldson.

Defensive Summary

- Jordan with another great game. Three disruptions (1 sack, two hurries) in 27 rushes

- David Hawthorne was in the green for the second straight game as well. He's the fourth-highest graded inside linebacker.

- The lowest grade on defense went to Vaccaro, most of it coming from the TD to Jackson that was called back.

- Defense missed just two tackles.

- Malcolm Jenkins held up reasonably well in coverage versus Jackson - allowed two catches.

- The Saints pressured Freeman on a third of his 24 dropbacks.

One more PFF tidbit: Through two games, Charles Brown is PFF's 21st graded tackle at +2.1 overall, while Jermon Bushrod is 64th at -5.0.


Throwing in a different tidbit of info this week, and something I'll keep as a staple. Here are the top five offensive personnel formations the Saints have implemented the past two games:

1. Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills, Jimmy Graham, Zach Strief, Charles Brown, Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Brian De La Puente - 40 plays (31 pass, nine rushes), 7.70 yards per play (9.06 yards per pass play, 3.00 yards per rush play), 13 first downs.

2. Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills, Jimmy Graham, Zach Strief, Charles Brown, Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Brian De La Puente - 12 plays (11 passing, one rushing), 4.25 yards per play (4.64 yards per pass play, 0 yards per rush play), four first downs.

3. Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Jed Collins, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills, Zach Strief, Charles Brown, Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Brian De La Puente - seven plays (two passing, five rushing), 3.43 yards per play (5.00 yards per pass play, 2.8 yards per rush play).

4. Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas, Jed Collins, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Zach Strief, Charles Brown, Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Brian De La Puente - six plays (two passing, four rushing), 5.67 yards per play (3.50 yards per pass play, 6.75 yards per rush play), two first downs, one touchdown.

5. Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Nick Toon, Jimmy Graham, Zach Strief, Charles Brown, Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Brian De La Puente - four plays (four pass plays), 18 yards per play, three first downs, one touchdown.


- The referee threw the flag immediately when Clayborn crushed Brees on an early second quarter sack-fumble as the referee flagged Clayborn for unnecessary roughness. Brees never saw the hit coming.

I watched the replay again and again. Technically, it was a helmet-to-helmet hit. Ever so technically. Saints fans would go bonkers if Jordan was called for that penalty on a hit like that. I guess rules are rules.

- The Fox broadcast team started talking about how it talked with Goldson on how to make a tackle in the NFL shortly after the Clayborn hit. And the officials flagged Goldson for unnecessary roughness on a hit on Sproles. Goldson winked and laughed about it afterward, but he can't be laughing now as the NFL suspended him for one game for the hit.

Goldson led with his head and popped Sproles jarring his head back. Sproles was pretty fortunate to bounce back to his feet after the hit. This penalty was clear.

- I have no idea what Schiano was thinking on challenging whether or not Ingram fumbled on an 8-yard carry midway through the second quarter. The play remained as called on the field. Silly challenge.

- Graham didn't seem too upset when asked about the hit Black laid on him late in the first half spurring the officials to penalize Tampa Bay for a third unnecessary roughness penalty in the second quarter. Black's hit was the most blatant of the three penalties. The ball was far enough away from Graham on the incomplete pass to where Black should have stopped. Seems pretty obvious to me Black wanted to take out Graham.



Evans - 73 offensive plays, 100 percent of the offensive snaps; 6 special teams plays, 23 percent of special teams snaps

Strief - 73, 100%; 6, 23%

Grubbs - 73, 100%; 6, 23%

Brown - 73, 100%; 6, 23%

De La Puente - 73, 100%

Brees - 73, 100%

Colston - 69, 95%

Graham - 59, 81%

Stills - 50, 68%

Moore - 47, 64%

Sproles - 35, 48%; 9, 35%

Thomas - 28, 38%

Collins - 21, 29%; 3, 12%

Watson - 20, 27%; 6, 23%

Meachem - 19, 26%

Ingram - 13, 18%; 3, 12%

Harris - 4, 5%; 9, 35%


Vaccaro - 59 (defensive snaps), 100%; 10 (special teams snaps), 38%

Malcolm Jenkins - 59, 100%; 7, 27%

Lofton - 59, 100%; 3, 12%

Jordan - 59, 100%; 3, 12%

Greer - 57, 97%

Lewis - 57, 97%

Hicks - 53, 90%; 3, 12%

John Jenkins - 51, 86%; 3, 12%

Galette - 47, 80%

Hawthorne - 43, 73%; 4, 15%

Harper - 41, 69%; 7, 27%

Haralson - 18, 31%; 3, 12%

Bush - 15, 25%; 17, 65%

Wilson - 11, 19%; 10, 38%

Richardson - 11, 19%

Robinson - 4, 7%; 1, 4%

Tom Johnson - 3, 5%

Herring - 1, 2%; 20, 77%

Hill - 23 (special teams only), 88%

Humber - 20, 77%

White - 20, 77%

Reddick - 17, 65%

Sweeting - 12, 46%

Cadet - 10, 38%

Drescher - 10, 38%

Lelito - 9, 35%

Morstead - 8, 31%

Hartley - 6, 23%

McCown - 6, 23%

New Orleans Saints offense takes advantage of another impressive defensive stand: Film Study | NOLA.com

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Old 09-17-2013, 04:52 PM   #2
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Re: New Orleans Saints offense takes advantage of another impressive defensive stand: Film Study

Awesome article.

UGLY game. But I will take an ugly win over a nice looking loss.
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