Sunday, September 16, 2012
v/s Saints - a quick pregame
well, last week I spent time over months dealing with the Bucs - fuck all that it mattered. It's :45 to kickoff and we more or less know the Saints so just a few highlights.
Obviously have to have better guard play - both guards failed miserably last week. There's no way around running the ball more, either. Cam has to limit the mistakes but moreso play under his base. I thought, the one non-mugging pick aside, he threw the ball better last week than he did this time last year. He's learned. But you can't throw the ball that many times. Harper is easy pickings, and the Saints don't have good depth at CB either - and Jenkins can be persuaded away from his responsibilities. But you have to pick your spots, too.
Run O will have to earn it, though. Bunkley is legit at DT and Ellis can penetrate (just not always finish). Bunkley, Cam Jordan, and Curtis Lofton make for a legit run D. The key will be finding a way to get around that, where the rest doesn't tackle all that well, especially the DBs; also, Will Smith at RE doesn't appear to have that big a threat.
Carolina used 3 WR about 50% of the time, and while they may prefer not to do that as much this week, they have to get under center in 3 WR and run the ball. No way around it - the shotgun runs are ugly, and PA just isn't as effective. Spread running gives some space, gives one on ones up front.
Run defense should not be an issue whatsoever. Grubbs/DelaPuente/Evans are a good trio inside and that could be difficult, but the Saints let so much go on the edge where Bushrod just doesn't seem to be that good at anything and where Hardy had a pretty good run day last week, the edges should leave everything in the middle where Carolina can contain better. They don't do lead plays much - Jed Collins played 18 snaps last week, only 6 of them run - so Kuechly should have more room, where he'll have a lot of Sproles to deal with in space.
I would anticipate another solid stretch of 3-4 and that shouldn't hurt, and it's a good base look against the 2TE sets (Graham/Thomas played a combined 30 snaps, so half the game). For the most part it's horrendously stupid to blitz Brees so the best you can hope for is another solid outing for our DEs (3 pressures apiece, regardless of whether Hardy lost his sack to Edwards, or that Johnson was in on pretty much every collapse) and a little stunting or misdirection. But let's shelf the double A-gap blitz look for a few minutes and leave our LBs in place to make a play on a ball. We shouldn't blitz, we have no business blitzing like that, and Drew Brees is just too smart for that. They like it deep, so either the rush does or doesn't get there.
Colston will play a lot against Norman, which if he doesn't make a ton of mistakes should be OK - and Colston wasn't himself last week. No Meacham means better matchups on the other side, too. Moore is pretty solid, but Henderson is being asked to do more than just run 5-6 go routes a game and it's not helping him. Graham? I hope we have something interesting there. It's a win if we can keep him from being matched up on Munnerlyn, who responded as just a nickel (he did play some base, since neither he nor Norman had a game's worth of snaps, but Norman played more).
Don't have a great feeling about this one - unlike Tampa there's definitely the feeling that NO is a better team, even with their current issues, where Tampa may or may not have taken advantage of being new and less scoutable and their success is one game old. NO can still out-physical, and out-pass, Carolina and my guess is they probably will, it's just up to this moody team to keep up.