Friday, September 18, 2009

Strategy and Matchups - NO

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Who dat? Who dat? Who dat, gonna beat dem Saints?

Kevin freaking Kolb, that's who.

Listen up, my bayou brethren. You think having McNabb on the sidelines is a good thing. Au contraire. Kolb is a lethal weapon, poised to explode on the NFL scene and announce his mega-awesomeness. He's been pulling the rope-a-dope in his backup appearances to this point. He's lulled you to sleep and now you're about to get a face full of corn on the Kolb. Game time is pain time and your beloved Saints will be hurting all day long on Sunday.

How's that for early season smack talk?

Offense

The center of attention is going to be Kevin Kolb. How will he do in his first career start? All joking aside, we have no idea. I do think the situation sets up nicely for him. The Saints D isn't on par with the Giants, Ravens, or anyone like that.

We need to protect him first and foremost. I re-watched the Saints opener and they didn't get a ton of pressure on Matt Stafford. Their only sack came from MLB Jonathan Vilma on a blitz. The Saints didn't blitz DBs very much from what I saw. They mainly brought LBs. Our OL should be able to handle their OL. We should be able to mostly control their blitz. The Saints LBs are solid players, but none of them are dynamic rushers.

Big Red better let us run the ball this week. We need to feed the ball to Westy, McCoy, and Weaver. A good running game is crucial to success for a backup QB. Our OL did a good job on run plays last week, especially as the day wore on. I expect that to continue this week.

Regular readers know I love the play called Flip 90. It works well against the Saints. Detroit ran it twice in the first 18 minutes of the game and it got them a good gain and a TD. We ran it the last time we played New Orleans in '07 and it worked well. I hope we run that to Shady this week. He's got the speed to get outside and turn that into a big play. The New Orleans LBs are N-S guys. They can attack downhill, but lack the speed to get outside as quickly as most teams would prefer.

We must stretch the field in the passing game. Kolb was 7 of 11 for 23 yards last week. That kind of attack won't cut it. Wouldn't surprise me to see us go deep in the first series. Even if we don't hit on a homerun ball, we need to complete passes in the intermediate area (11-20 yds). If we play small ball the Saints will just load 8 men into the box and stifle us. DeSean Jackson tweaked his groin the other day (don't try that at home). We need his vertical speed. We need him to give us a big play, whether a long pass or a short one where he uses his RAC skills. We need D-Jax to get loose.

Defense

Pressure. We must bring the heat if we want to slow down Brees and the Saints. We need this to come from the starting DL, the pass rush specialists, and any blitzers who attack.

You can't have a standard gameplan. Brees is a master at short passes. He can 3-step drop you to death. We'll need to play a lot of D-linemen to keep the guys fresh. We need Bunk and Patt to push the pocket. We need the ends to get pressure off the edge.

Trent Cole vs Jermon Bushrod is a matchup that definitely tilts our way. Bushrod also is battling an ankle injury. I'm sure New Orleans will give him plenty of help when they do want to throw downfield. That means the other guys will have 1-on-1 battles a lot of the time. Those players must win and hit Brees.

I don't care how many sacks we get. The point is to bring pressure to keep him from getting in a rhythm and finding his comfort zone. Drew doesn't have a great arm. If he has guys at his feet that could affect some of his passes.

Drew will force some downfield throws. He did this several times against the Lions. They picked one pass. Others were unchallenged. We need the corners to cover tightly and play the ball when it comes their way. This could be Asante Samuel's week to shine.

Macho Harris will have a lot of pressure on him. The Saints will test us vertically. They have some fast receivers. Macho has to stay deep and play the ball when he gets the chance. The last time we beat NO Dawk was hurt early in the game and JR Reed was the FS. We did a solid job on them. Macho can handle this.

Who were the linebackers the last time we played the Saints? Chris Gocong, Omar Gaither, and Akeem Jordan were the starting trio. These guys know how hard it is to play against the Saints offense. If you go back to the two losses we had to them in 2006 it was lack of speed at linebacker that really killed us (Trotter was brutal). That was better in the 2007 game and is good now. Gaither didn’t face a lot of running plays up the middle last week since Carolina likes to run to the edges so much. This week will be different. The Saints will attack the middle. Patterson and Bunkley need to control the blockers and clog the lanes. Gaither needs to get to the ball and tackle well. The most pleasant surprise last week was Jordan becoming more of a playmaker. He got his first career interception and sack. I’d love to see him build off of that. Make more plays.

Sean McDermott was masterful in the season opener. He'll have his hands full with Sean Payton and Drew Brees. Those guys are a supreme challenge. I trust that McDermott will stay aggressive. I think he'll have a couple of new wrinkles to show the Saints. The big key is execution. Guys have to make plays when they get a chance.

Overall

This game won't be won by scheme. This game will be about controlling the LOS and protecting the QB. We can win those battles. Kolb doesn't have to outplay Brees. We've got a strong enough team to carry a young QB making his first start. It would help if Kevin made some plays.

We started slow last week and then started to play with an edge. I hope the blowout didn't cause us to lose that edge. The goal line stand at the end was good. You never know if momentum can carry from one week to the next. I guess we'll see on Sunday. Getting off to a 2-0 start would be huge. Both teams are NFC opponents, as well as probably solid teams.

This is only a Week 2 matchup, but the game could tell us a lot about each team. Can the Eagles win without McNabb? Can the defense shut down a great offense? Is this finally a team that will play at a high level each week? The Saints need to show their defense has improved and that they can win on the road against a good team. Last year's signature road win came at KC. Not good.
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10 comments:

The Old Buffoon said...

Tommy,

Great preview. No surprise, there.

I expect Williams to put together a much more aggressive gameplan against us than he had for the lowly Lions. I love hearing about the Saints LB's east-west vulnerability. I could really see MM and AR devise some great plays (ala flip 90) to exploit that that would be relatively easy for Kolb to execute.

On defense, do you expect Asante to be matched up with Henderson, Sheldon on Colston? Seems like that would be best, but maybe you see it differently. I also think this is a huge game for Mikell. He has to be fast in run support and not bite on misdirection and play action plays. He is our leader, and we need him to play at a pro bowl level this Sunday.

Can't wait to see Payton and Co's faces stuffed with lots o corn on the Kolb! lol

Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CAE said...

I think we can win this game, but I won't be terribly surprised if we don't. My comments on this week's Chicks in the Huddle chick fight to the contrary.

Mario said...

Tommy: mattwill who is an Eagles fan who posts occasionally at a Saints' fan message board, whodatzone.com, linked your preview over there. Glad that I read it and followed it over here. Nice work. I enjoyed your analysis. Have to say that no DMc makes me a bit more confident for a Saints' win. I think if he was healthy I'd think the Eagles win by 7-10 points. I don't know how much the Saints' D has improved since we played the Lions last week. I think that WIlliams shelved a great deal of his D package (as Old Buffoon pointed out) since we played Detroit and a rookie QB and coach. Against Andy and Kolb he'll need to do more. If our special teams played like they did last week, the Eagles will win by 21. We'd better have improved there if we want to win. Personally, I'm disappointed to see Donovan out. It would give we Saints' fans a better read on our team, but a win would be HUGE for us. Thanks again for the interesting read. I hope we kick your butts, but no injuries on either side. Oh and please kick the Cowboys' arses twice this year! And beat the other NFC South teams for me!!

Best

MVP

Cliff said...

I think the Eagles TE's will be a key part of the plan this week against the Saints. I hope we see some passes to Alex Smith because I'm eager to see what he can do.

The NFL is full of important, early-season matchups this Sunday. NYG-DAL, NE-NYJ, NO-PHI, BAL-SD, even HOU-TEN... there'll be a lot of entertaining stuff tomorrow.

Stephen said...

They'll have so much corn on the Kolb they won't want to eat veggies for a month. We'll let them have the bitter taste of defeat for desert.

Adam said...

Personally i think the outcome of this game rests predominantly on the shoulders of 36-29-43...We NEED to have an effective running game this week in order to keep Brees on the sidelines. As much as I love the big plays for quick scores we need to sustain long drives and keep that potent Offense off the field. i hope for once our run pass ratio is more 60-40 the other way.

Also I agree with Cliff that this week will be big for our TE's because Kolb (well any young QB) likes the underneath stuff and those big guys will need to perform well.

I like the Birds in a suprisingly non-high scoring game. 24-17

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: DB matchups

The best scenario might be Sheldon & the FS on Henderson with Samuel on Colston alone.


RE: Mikell

Great point about this being a key game for him. I'll cover that in a post.


RE: Gregg Williams

I'm sure he only used what he had to in order to beat the Lions. Why show your hand if you don't have to? He's a good coach, but I'm curious to see how he does in NO.


@ Mario...

Glad you stopped by. Always good to chat with fans of other teams who actually know their team and what is really going on.

Mario said...

Look forward to seeing you in the NFC Championship game!!! ;-)

Cliff said...

The offense against Carolina wasn't exactly ideal, but from what I can tell looking at the game book... we had pretty close toa 50/50 run/pass ration. Eat your heart out, haterrrrrs!

OK, seriously, I only bring this up because if there was ever a game where we really need to run the ball it's this one. I hope we see a game plan like the Christmas Cowboys game in 2007 when we ran, ran, ran, ran and had Garcia complete some dinky-dunk stuff, then ran, ran, ran, and ran.

Cliff said...

I meant 2006, of course.