Geneaut Posted September 29, 2010 Share Posted September 29, 2010 New Orleans Saints didn't play well in several areas against Atlanta: Jeff Duncan's film studyPublished: Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 2:52 PM Jeff Duncan, The Times-Picayune Sean Payton said Monday there "were a lot of wide lefts" in the New Orleans Saints' 27-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday other than the well-documented performance of kicker Garrett Hartley and after reviewing the film I see what he means.New Orleans Saints receiver Devery Henderson had a couple of big drops against Atlanta.The Saints did not play well. They were uncharacteristically sloppy in a number of areas on both sides of the ball and were outplayed by the Falcons for five quarters, especially in the trenches.The more physical and more motivated team won Sunday.In addition to Hartley, some other "wide left" performances:Devery Henderson. The Saints like to take a handful of "shot" plays downfield in the passing game each week. They usually go to one of the two primary deep threats: Henderson or Robert Meachem. With Meachem slowly rounding into form after offseason surgery, Henderson was the main target and the Saints tried three shots at him downfield and came up empty each time. Henderson dropped two of the passes. The final one would have been a big gain because he had beaten Dunta Robinson deep. These were the kind of plays the Saints hit routinely a year ago.Malcolm Jenkins. The second-year defensive back came back down to earth this week. After two good performances at his new position, Jenkins was exploited by the crafty Falcons attack on a handful of plays for big gains. The converted cornerback took bad angles and was late to arrive on the scene on a couple of key third-down conversions. Chalk it up as a learning experience for the talented young defender.Jon Vilma. He led the Saints with 11 tackles but this was far from his best effort. Too many times he found himself caught up in the "wash" against the run, allowing Michael Turner and Jason Snelling big gains up the gut. Vilma is undersized and struggles to shed blocks at times. This was one of those days. Falcons linemen got their hats on Vilma way too often at the second level.Carl Nicks. Nicks is a budding star but he didn't play his best game. Powerful defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux won this matchup more often than not and was a big reason why the Saints struggled to run the ball, especially in short-yardage situations.Heath Evans. The Saints' failed to convert a fourth-and-1 and a third-and-1 and in both cases Evans didn't get a hat on his target. It's unfair to hang the short-yardage woes strictly on Evans, but he was partly responsible. To his credit, Evans was a stand-up guy afterward, taking full accountability for his sub-par play.All in all, this was just a sloppy all-around performance by the Saints. It spoiled outstanding efforts by Lance Moore (six catches, 149 yards, two touchdowns; 72-yard punt return) and Jeremy Shockey (eight catches, 78 yards, one touchdown).Look for the Saints to get back on track this week against Carolina. But they're a banged-up football team after this five-quarter battle with the physical Falcons.PLAYER OF THE GAME: With Reggie Bush sidelined, the Saints needed Moore to rise to the occasion and he responded. The 149 receiving yards were a career high, as was his big punt return. His 80-yard TD reception was the longest by a Saints receiver since Week 1 of the 2008 season when Henderson had an 84-yard scoring reception.CALL OF THE GAME: The Falcons had been blitzing on first down throughout the game and on the Saints' first offensive snap of overtime Payton made them pay with a screen play behind the blitz. Brees allowed safety William Moore and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon to penetrate then lofted a short pass over their heads to Pierre Thomas in the left flat. Nicks laid a key block on Lofton and Thomas raced 23 yards through traffic down the left sideline. Perfect call at the perfect time.PRESSURE REPORT: Gregg Williams was uncharacteristically conservative for most of the afternoon. I'm guessing he was concerned about the screen game to Snelling and Turner and wanted to concentrate coverage on Gonzalez. Regardless, the Saints primarily played coverage against Matt Ryan and rarely rushed more than four defenders. By my count, Williams sent safety Roman Harper on only one blitz and didn't sent a corner or slot back at all. That's rare.The Falcons either scouted the Saints extremely well or guessed right because they seemed to hit the defense with a big play on nearly every blitz they called.ZEBRA REPORT: Walt Anderson's crew swallowed their whistles and let the boys play. They only called 10 combined penalties in nearly five quarters of action and kept the teams under control when it looked like things got chippy early. They made the correct call on both replay challenges.SCOUTING REPORT: The Saints liked linebacker Sean Weathersoon in last April's NFL draft and I can see why. The kid is a player. He's athletic, physical and plays with a swagger. The rookie from Missouri finished with seven tackles and a quarterback hit. He's going to be a good one for the Falcons.DIDYA NOTICE?: The Saints' defense busted out a new look on the first third down of the game. The package featured only two down linemen - tackle Sedrick Ellis and end Will Smith. Reserve end Jeff Charleston entered the game as a stand-up end on the left side. The rest of the unit consisted of three linebackers and five defensive backs.NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:FIRST QUARTER:The Falcons wasted no time going after rookie cornerback Patrick Robinson, who saw the first action of his career as the nickel back. On the first third down, Ryan went right at Robinson in single coverage on Falcons receiver Harry Douglas.Two very nice blocks set up the lane for Moore on his 72-yard punt return. Rookie tight end Jimmy Graham sealed Coy Wire to the sideline and Chris Ivory and Marvin Mitchell double-teamed Sean Weatherspoon on the inside of the numbers to create a 5-yard-wide lane for Moore on the left side. Moore then made a slick move on punter Mick Koenen to break into the open. Leigh Torrence, Pierson Prioleau and Chris Reis also did a nice job of shielding their men without holding or blocking in the back. Excellent work by all.The Saints opened the game in tank personnel - 1WR, 2TE, 2RB -Brees recognized a goal-line blitz by the Falcons' defense and beat it with a quick strike to Jeremy Shockey, who ran a quick out just past the goal line.Excellent read by Scott Shanle to snuff out a second-down screen play to Jason Snelling, forcing Ryan to just spike the ball at Snelling's feet for an incompletion.Roman Harper and Jo-Lonn Dunbar both blitzed on a first-and-10 play on the Falcons' second serried but Atlanta picked it up, allowing Ryan time to find Tony Gonzalez for a 34-yard gain. Gonzalez beat cornerback Tracy Porter with a double move on an out-and-up and Ryan delivered a perfect strike.Gonzalez beat a double-team by Porter and Malcolm Jenkins for a 13-yard TD strike. Ryan delivered a perfect pass despite taking a big hit from Vilma, who blitzed along with Shanle.Not sure how Mick Koenen tripped up Courtney Roby on his 39-yard kickoff return but he did. The Falcons kicker even looked surprised he was able to make the play on the speedy Roby, who likely would have taken it to the house if he were able to keep his balance while trying to avoid Koenen.Not sure who was at fault for Brees' interception on the flea-flicker. The Saints got what they wanted, with Devery Henderson isolated in single coverage against Brent Grimes, but Brees' throw was well behind Henderson, who had leverage on Grimes to the inside of the hash. Grimes made a terrific leaping pick but Henderson didn't do a very good job of locating the ball or competing for it. If nothing else, he should have broken up the play or tackled Grimes, who returned it 36 yards.Chris Ivory made a nice run out of tank personnel - 1 WR, 2TE, 2 RB - to gain 9 yards on his first official NFL carry. It was a straight power run to the right behind Jahri Evans, Jon Stinchcomb and Zach Strief, who entered the game as the second tight end.Brees fooled Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud with his eyes to set up the 80-yard touchdown pass to Moore. Brees stared down Shockey on a crossing route over the middle to draw DeCoud toward the middle of the field, then fired a perfect strike over his head to Moore, who ran a simple fly pattern down the numbers.Roby made the tackle but big Anthony Hargrove should get the assist on the stellar kickoff coverage late in the quarter. Roby dropped Eric Weems at the 15 after Hargrove nearly blew him up at the 10. Excellent coverage by a nearly 300-pound defensive tackle.Porter appeared to tweak his hamstring on the Falcons' final drive of the quarter. He appeared to pull up while covering Harry Douglas after an incompletion by Ryan on second down.Gonzalez beat Roman Harper for a 10-yard reception to convert a third-and-7 but the play was nullified by a penalty. Otherwise, it would have marked the third third-down conversion catch of the quarter by Gonzalez. He beat a different defender for each catch: Shanle; Porter; and Harper.SECOND QUARTER:Brees made an athletic play to complete a 14-yard pass to David Thomas. Brees dodged Curtis Lofton, who came clean on a blitz after Pierre Thomas missed his pick up, then gathered himself and found Thomas among three defenders in the right flat. It looked like Brees wanted to take a shot downfield to Marques Colston but Lofton's pressure disrupted the timing.Ivory's earlier carries helped set up a big play-action pass to Shockey on second-and-8 on the Saints' first drive. Ivory had carried on two consecutive downs out of a tank formation in the first quarter. This time the Saints used the same personnel and faked a handoff to Ivory to draw the linebackers toward the line, then Brees found Shockey over the top for 31 yards. Nice deception, set up and play call by Sean Payton.Brees made a terrible decision on the falling desperation toss/interception at the Falcons' 25 but the play never would have happened had the Saints protected better. The Falcons rushed only four defenders but somehow beat six Saints blockers. Jamal Anderson beat Jon Stinchcomb with a speed rush and Jonathan Babineaux beat Carl Nicks inside to flush Brees from the pocket. That might have been the worst decision of Brees' Saints career.Alex Brown looked like he was surprised by the power of Ryan, who somehow bulled over him on third-and-short to convert a quarterback sneak. Brown appeared to have Ryan stood up and stopped, but the quarterback kept his legs churning and barreled through Brown's tackle for the first down.Ryan had nearly six seconds (5.79) to unload a third-down pass to Gonzalez because the Saints rushed just five defenders and three of them - Smith, Vilma and Ellis - all left their feet on pump fakes by Ryan, allowing him time to scramble and find the veteran tight end on a broken route. Once again, the Saints had Gonzalez double-teamed - Robinson and Prioleau - but somehow he managed to get open and make the catch.A few plays later, Ryan had 6.07 seconds to find a receiver but was forced to unload an incompletion out of bounds.Not sure how the Saints left Gonzalez so open on the fourth-and-2 reception just before the two-minute warning. They'd been double-teaming him on third down, then all of a sudden they leave him completely uncovered on fourth down for an easy pitch-and-catch from Ryan. Vilma blitzed but stopped halfway to the quarterback when he appeared to get confused by a Falcons back who released to the flat.Good call by Walt Anderson on the horse-collar tackle by Remi Ayodele on Turner. Pretty clear-cut infraction.Turner showed his power when he blew through a tackle attempt by Vilma at the 1-yard line and plowed into the end zone for the tying touchdown before halftime. Vilma went high on Turner and paid the price.Little things killed the Saints in this game. Like Pierre Thomas' missed blocked on Sean Weatherspoon just before halftime. Thomas' failure allowed the rookie linebacker to tackle Robert Meachem before he could get out of bounds on his crossing route and the clock expired in the first half. If Thomas makes the block, the Saints get a first down at the Falcons' 45 and a chance to get off another play and perhaps move into range for a long field-goal attempt. Instead, they went to halftime tied at 14.THIRD QUARTER:Payton has run some unusual sets in his career but the one he unveiled on second-and-8 at the Saints' 46 might have been a first. He ran an empty backfield with no backs in the game. The personnel package included three receivers - Colston, Meachem and Moore - and two tight ends - Shockey and David Thomas. Brees hit Shockey for a 7-yard gain.John Abraham showed he still has a burst off the edge when be beat Jermon Bushrod with a speed move for a sack on first down. The 8-yard loss short-circuited a nice opening drive by the Saints.I thought the Saints got a bad spot on Pierre Thomas' 15-yard screen play on third-and-16. It looked like Thomas was able to stretch the ball across the Falcons' 31 before hitting the turf. Officials spotted the ball at the about a half-yard short of the first-down mark. This was critical because Ivory fumbled on the ensuing fourth-and-1 try and Atlanta took possession. It was an incredible individual effort by Thomas and shows how strong his lower body is. He carried Brent Grimes for almost 3 yards. I was surprised Payton didn't challenge the spot.The Falcons did an excellent job of penetrating the Saints' backfield to disrupt the timing and path of Ivory on the fourth-and-1. Ivory actually did a decent job of fighting through the trash and selling himself out for the first down. But above all, the rookie needs to secure the ball or his stay as the short-yardage back will be a short one.Poor run defense allowed Turner to bust a 32-yard run on second-and-9. Hargrove was driven four yards off the line of scrimmage and pancaked on a double-team block. Pulling guard Justin Blalock kicked out Dunbar in the hole and Vilma and Shanle took poor angles to the ball carrier and got washed out in the trash. Turner wasn't touched until he was almost 30 yards downfield. It was his longest gain of the season.Good call by officials to reverse the strip/fumble by Snelling on his 17-yard run to the 2. His elbow hit the turf before Jenkins stripped the ball.The goal-line stand to hold the Falcons to a field goal was one of the Saints' best in recent years. Good penetration by Hargrove, and tremendous run support by the linebackers Vilma, Mitchell and Dunbar. That's a big red-zone 'win" by the defense.Just a tremendous display of athleticism and awareness by Jimmy Graham and Jason Kyle to recover the fluke fumble off DeCoud's foot on Thomas Morstead's short punt. Good challenge by Payton and officials made the correct call to award the Saints the ball.The Saints got Moore singled in coverage against middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and Brees went right at the mismatch for a 16-yard touchdown catch-and-run to give the Saints the lead. Lofton could not keep up with Moore on the shallow crossing route.FOURTH QUARTER:Gonzalez took exception to a submarine tackle by Harper on a third-and-10 catch for 11 yards. Gonzalez popped up immediately after the low tackle and got in Harper's face, apparently thinking Harper was trying to go for his knees.The Saints double-teamed Roddy White on second-and-16 and left Harper in single coverage against Gonzalez and Ryan went right after him to coax a defensive pass interference call.Tremendous throw by Ryan and an even better catch by Roddy White to gain 24 big yards on second-and-10. Jabari Greer had excellent coverage but didn't turn his head early enough and just missed making the break-up. White took a big shot from Jenkins but held on. Big-time play.Jenkins made a major mistake when he got caught trying to decoy a blitz and was not able to retreat in time to help Greer on the 22-yard TD catch by White on third-and-6. Williams allows his players the freedom to move around and disguise their coverage before the snap. The caveat, though, is you must be able to still carry out your assignment and get to the right spot. Jenkins' inexperience showed on this play because he drifted too close to the line and was out of position. Ryan identified the mistake immediately and fired an easy strike to White over his outside shoulder. Jenkins received a tongue-lashing from Williams when he returned to the sideline. This was just one example of how much the Saints missed Darren Sharper's veteran savvy in this game.Carl Nicks really struggled with Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux. He got beat man-to-man for a sack on third down to kill a key drive early in the quarter. This was not one of Nicks' better games.Excellent read by Greer to jump the in-route by Gonzalez on fourth-and-6 and give the ball back to the offense for the final game-tying drive. Alex Brown made the nice leaping deflection on Ryan's throw but Greer would have broken up the pass or intercepted it if it had gone through.Shockey answered Gonzalez with an excellent diving catch outside of his body to convert a critical fourth-and-1 on the score-tying drive.Brees had his left knee rolled under by an on-rushing Abraham after he delivered the fourth-down pass to Shockey. Brees repeatedly stretched and flexed his leg on the field and later on the sideline trying to improve the range of motion in the joint.It's amazing Thomas did not injure his left knee when he was sandwiched in a high-low tackle by William Moore and Lofton. Thomas was stood up by Moore and bent back awkwardly when Lofton rolled under his body from behind while being blocked by Bushrod. Thomas' left ankle was crushed under Lofton's body and rotated inward while being smashed into the turf. Tough to watch.OVERTIMEThe Saints looked like a tired team in coverage of the overtime kickoff. The pursuit was noticeably slow and Weems was able to make an easy return to the Atlanta 39.The Falcons missed on a "shot" play of their own to Douglas, who has beaten rookie cornerback Patrick Robinson deep down the left sideline on a go route. Ryan's 52-yard bomb needed to be 51 yards. The ball sailed just over the hands of the diving receiver.Excellent kickout block by Colston on Grimes to spring Henderson for the 14-yard gain on the bubble screen to set up Hartley's game-winning field-goal try. That's a tough block in space and he executed it perfectly.I'm no kicking expert so I can't say what went wrong on Hartley's missed 29-yarder. I watched the kick several times along with his game-tying 32-yarder and everything looks exactly the same. The snap, hold and approach look identical. Hartley said he looked up at the last minute and just mis-hit it. He also said he over-thought the kick but did not explain what he meant by that.PERSONNEL PACKAGES: Reggie Bush's absence limited Payton's options. Consequently, he used a lot of multiple-receiver and two-tight end sets. He pulled a couple of unusual sets out of his grab bag, though. He called three plays without a back on the field. Two with three receivers and two tight ends. Another with four receivers and a tight end. For the most part, though, he kept things fairly conservative and tried to keep a back or tight end in the backfield to help in protection against Falcons ends John Abraham and Kroy Biermann. Payton also tried to work rookie Jimmy Graham into the rotation for a few plays and even called his number a couple of times but the Falcons covered him well.Here's the breakdown of the reps at each skill position: WR -Colston 43; Henderson 39; Lance Moore 31; Meachem 16. TE - Shockey 37; D.Thomas 34; Zach Strief 10; Graham 3. RB - P.Thomas 43; Ivory 8; Betts 2. FB - Evans 12.Here's a look at the Saints' personnel packages on their 56 offensive snaps:3WR/1TE/1RB - 27 out of 562WR/2TE/1RB - 10 out of 561WR/2TE/2RB - 10 out of 561WR/3TE/1RB - 3 out of 562WR/1TE/2RB - 2 out of 56 plays3WR/2TE - 2 out of 564WR/1TE - 1 out of 563TE/2RB - 1 out of 56 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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