This week we have HansDat from the New Orleans Saints blog, Canal Street Chronicles.
After a surprisingly slow start for the Saints, they are now on a tear. What is the difference between now and then?
In a word, offense. Our scoring has surged dramatically during our 6-game winning streak, with us scoring at least 30 points in 5 of the wins. Why the offensive surge? Some say Drew Brees finally got healthy in the knee (after getting it dinged up early in the year), others attribute it to Chris Ivory’s emergence as a factor at RB, and still others say we feasted on a bunch of patsies (although the streak began with a HUGE Sunday Night win against a pretty good team – – the Pittsburgh Steelers).
In another word, crucial takeaways by our defense. This was our bread-and-butter in 2009, but they didn’t come much in 2010 until our winning streak. Against both Pittsburgh and Dallas, we got strip/fumble recoveries late in those games, and then early on vs. St. Louis last week, we got another one on Steven Jackson that set us up for a second quick score and a 14-0 1st Quarter lead.
Will the Saints attempt any semblance of a running game?
I think they will try to run the ball, at least enough to keep the Ravens D honest, and help to make the play-action pass effective. But the truth us, Sean Payton loves him some passing game, and uses the short passing game (screens, swing and dump passes, etc.) as an extension of the running game, especially with Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas finally back healthy. My personal belief is that Payton would like to build a quick lead early through an aggressive passing attack, and then run the ball late after tiring out the defense some.
How do Ravens begin to attack the Saints passing attack?
Your best bet is probably three-fold: jam our receivers at the line to disrupt their timing, allow the short passes (while covering deep) but then tackle well in the middle of the field, and also get pressure up the middle (with arms up) to block Brees’ passing lanes/field of vision (he’s barely 6-feet tall). You can also blow up our game plan by intercepting him. He’s forced a few ill-advised throws, and had some unlucky bounces that have contributed to the career-high 18 picks he’s tossed thus far, and we’ve only played 13 games.
What are Gregg Williams’ plans for Flacco and friends?
Pressure, pressure, pressure. He wants to pressure Flacco into flaking out and making mistakes that our ball-hawking predators can take advantage of. Our DL does not generate much heat, so GW brings the wood using exotic formations and a variety of schemes in which you never know where the extra pressure will come from (LB, safety, corner), or if we won’t bring much pressure and just drop back into coverage. But never you mind…he will often send the BLITZ and leave the secondary in man coverage. The stats bear this out.
Will the cold icy weather play a factor in the game?
I feel that it will certainly have some impact – I just don’t see how it can’t. We play in a dome for at least 10 games every year, and even when we “brave the elements” during late-season outdoor practices, it’s just not that cold or icy in New Orleans. Now if you ask Payton and the team, they’ll deny it, but that’s just “coach-speak” in my opinion. It could hinder our tackling, our ability to hold onto the ball and/or chuck it downfield with accuracy. I just hope the game plan is flexible enough to match whatever field conditions are present and/or fronts your team shows us.