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Sack surge: Saints, Buccaneers finding way to QB at league-leading rate in recent weeks

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Old 12-06-2018, 05:27 PM   #1
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Old 12-06-2018, 05:28 PM   #2
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Re: Sack surge: Saints, Buccaneers finding way to QB at league-leading rate in recent weeks

BY ROD WALKER | rwalker@theadvocate.com Dec 6, 2018 - 4:21 pm

It started around the middle of October.

All of a sudden, the sacks started coming for the New Orleans Saints.

And the sacks also started coming for the team the Saints face on Sunday.

In fact, since Week 7, the Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lead the league in sacks.

The Saints have recorded a league-best 25 during that span.

The Bucs are right on their heels at 24.

"When they come, they come in bunches," said Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. "We've done nothing different than guys executing the game plan and rushing the way we have always rushed. Sometimes it results in quarterback hits, pressures. Lately they have been resulting in sacks."

The Saints have recorded 13 in their past two games, getting six against Atlanta on Thanksgiving night and following that up with seven this past Thursday against Dallas.

"It's a combination of things," said defensive tackle Tyeler Davison. "We have a lot of talented players, and our main goal is to get after the quarterback. Teams want to pass the ball on us to try to keep themselves in the game. We send a fair amount of blitzes at them. Guys are continuously getting better and staying hungry. You put those things together and those are the results."

The Saints have doubled their sack total from the first six weeks of the season, when they had 12. They've added 25 since then to push the total to 37, tied for fifth in the league.

"It's been impressive," coach Sean Payton said. "As a coach, you're encouraged because we're receiving good end play, but we're also receiving great tackle play, and I think inside we've really been able to push the pocket."

Cam Jordan leads the Saints with 10 sacks, tied for 10th in the league. Rankins is second with seven.

"I think everything starts with Cam Jordan," said Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter. "I have been in this division for a long time, and Cam Jordan is just a consistently outstanding player, but Rankins is having a good year. (David) Onyemata gets three sacks last week. Their linebackers are playing fast and downhill."

The Buccaneers, meanwhile, have had a resurgence since Mark Duffner took over as defensive coordinator after the firing of Mike Smith on Oct. 15. They had nine sacks through six games but have recorded 24 since to give them 33 for the season, tied for 12th in the league. Jason Pierre-Paul leads the Bucs with 11.5 sacks, tied for fourth in the league.

"Coach Duffner and the entire defensive staff have been doing a good job moving guys around more than anything else," Koetter said. "We've had a ton of injuries on defense, and so we've been down multiple corners, multiple safeties and multiple linebackers. We've done a good job of carving out some niches for guys. Guys that we picked up off the street that didn't go to training camp or weren't even there for the first game we played, you guys. I think they've done a good job with that and then just getting those guys up to speed and putting them in position."

There was just one sack in the season opener between the Saints and Buccaneers, coming when Vinny Curry sacked Drew Brees.

But if the past few weeks are any indication, there could be more on Sunday between teams that have combined for 49 sacks over the past seven weeks.

"I think it’s like (with) the turnovers; those have really picked up, and we’re doing those things to win games," Payton said. "Hopefully, we can continue on that path.”

Will we ever learn? Never let it come down to the officiating...
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