Daily Special, September 11, 2012

21

 

 

Well, Sunday’s game was, all in all, an unpleasant experience. Kind of like getting a root canal and an enema at the same time, and the technicians keep getting confused.

But you know what? Upon reflection, it gets worse.

The Redskins loss was the second-worst game Drew Brees has played for the Saints, in terms of completion percentage—46.15. Only in the win against the Giants in 2006 did he post a worse mark (40.6%). And yeah, I know there were a lot of drops, even by Redskins. Still. When you pay a man that much money, you expect a little more for your investment. But if it’s not Drew’s fault, then the problem is magnified: it’s systemic, and it’s not limited to players but extends to coaches as well.

Which brings up the next point: the imbalance between running and passing. I’ve always come down on the side of “you do what gets you the win.” Time of possession is an artifact of victory, and not a cause, and it doesn’t bother me that the Redskins dominated in that category. Had Jimmy Graham caught Drew’s last pass, had we made the two-point conversion, and had we scored first in overtime (a lot of “had’s,” I grant you), TOP would, again, not have mattered.

But the playcalling was still lopsided, and it wasn’t, as Aaron Kromer suggested afterwards, a reaction to the state of affairs on the field. The Saints came out throwing: their first three plays (a three-and-out) were all incomplete passes. Not the way to start a game. And when you’re down only 10-7 in the opening quarter, there’s no justification for claiming that you had to pass to catch up. This is the Saints: we can catch up from 24-3 quite handily. Abandoning the run in response to an early three-point deficit is panic.

But not only that: I thought, amateur as I am, that you run to set up the pass, and conversely pass to set up the run. It works both ways. The Saints are notoriously the best passing team in the league; people expect them to pass, and they game plan to stop the pass above all things. That should make rushing all the easier; and indeed, the Saints were sixth in the league last season. This is a pretty good rushing team, playing against opponents who need extra-absorbent Depends to cope with our passing game. So why wouldn’t the run game work? Why didn’t we even try it?

But not only that: these are old objections. Every year it seems, we have one of these games where we step all over our own dicks, fail to achieve even a rough semblance of balance in playcalling, and lose. Why is it still happening? Is it because we have Drew? Well, we have the Nimitz, too; but we don’t try to send the Nimitz into Tora Bora. Drew is just one weapon; but more importantly, he’s just one kind of weapon. We have more weapons, and we should use all of them.

Now: on to defense. Pro Football Focus graded out the Saints’ performance, and the little darlings tried their best to put on a smiley face for us. But it’s no use: from start to finish, our defense gave up a consistent 10 points per quarter. The Saints seemed to make no adjustments at all, and the Redskins scored as though they were keeping to a schedule. The secondary, especially, was shaky; after Johnny Patrick left, we were without what may be our two best cornerbacks (Jabari Greer was inactive).

But the biggest problem came at—you guessed it—safety.

The safety position, manned by Roman Harper (-3.3) and Malcolm Jenkins (-2.4), continues to be a problem for the Saints, even under a new defensive coordinator. Neither player recorded a pass defense, while both were often late getting up field on Griffin’s quick throws. Harper, who last season led all safeties in sacks and was a staple in Gregg Williams’ blitzes, rushed fewer times than Jenkins against Washington. Harper was lined up at the deep safety spot three times more than the SS position where he has excelled. He’s looking more and more out of place by the game.

So…wait, excuse me. Something I don’t understand here. So, Roman Harper is our best blitzer, but a liability in coverage, and knowing that you put Roman Harper in coverage and blitz Jenkins? I’m sorry, but this is the equivalent of running the ball only ten times in the whole game. Or sending the Nimitz to Tora Bora.

All in all, according to PFF, the Saints blitzed on 40% of their defensive snaps. I thought those days were over. I thought we weren’t going to leave our safeties on islands anymore. I thought there was no way in hell Pierre Garcon breaks a slant pattern for 88 yards because there’s no one there because Malcolm Jenkins was blitzing (and getting to Magic Ghost 3.0 late).

Obviously, that’s what I get for thinking.

Like I said: every year, something like this happens. Against the Bucs, against the Browns, against the Rams. Maybe it’s a good thing that we got it out of our systems early. Maybe 18-1 ain’t such a bad idea after all. But maybe, just maybe, the yo-yo Saints are yoing again, and the best we could have expected—no matter who was serving as head coach—was a 10-6 season and maybe a playoff berth. And that sucks, so I don’t believe it.

18-1, bitches.

On the Jukebox

Yesterday, Philistine offered a juicy Ray Charles number as his jukebox selection. And it was so juicy…well, we needed more.

Posted by Himself in Daily Specials | 21 comments

21 Comments

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  • FriarBobSeptember 11, 2012 at 8:39 am

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    That depends on the refs. If they cheat us with blatantly horrid calls like that phantom pass interference on Harper (admittedly, I was shocked for him to have that beautiful and textbook of coverage, so maybe the refs just expected him to screw up and saw PI that wasn’t there because, hey, it’s Harper, he couldn’t have done that good a job in coverage! so maybe it was accidental cheating instead of deliberate, but it was still a totally bull-crap call that gave the skins a free TD they didn’t earn), if we can’t remember to run at least enough to keep opponents semi-honest, if we can’t find a pass rush with both hands and a flashlight, and if our OL continues to be a complete turnstile… if all of that remains true, we’re going to be lucky to go 6-10.

    On the other hand, if this complete pile of bilge wakes some people up and they play the way they are capable of, yeah, we’d still have a shot at 18-1. Not a very good one, perhaps, but we still have a shot.

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  • Breesus Christ SuperstarSeptember 11, 2012 at 8:57 am

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    The problem remains the same on defense year after year: No. Pass. Rush.

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  • Breesus Christ SuperstarSeptember 11, 2012 at 9:01 am

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    Look, everybody gets a mulligan.
    The problems that surfaced yesterday look deeper than something that can be fixed by a do- over. However, I think we are going to learn all we need to know about this team and its future by the way they respond this week.

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  • The Angry Who DatSeptember 11, 2012 at 9:43 am

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    40% blitz percentage? I wouldn’t have guessed that. Like the defensive coordinator of whom we no longer speak, Spags’s blitzes just weren’t effective. Griffin had all day. Not only do we need to not leave the safeties on an island, they probably need additional help. We need a 40% Ruckzug rate. Gotta find a way to get some pressure from the front four.

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    • HimselfSeptember 11, 2012 at 10:28 am

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      Like you, I wasn’t in analyst mode when I watched the horror unfold, so I didn’t know we were blitzing that much. I only noticed when it was obvious…like on the replay of Garcon’s TD, when I got to see up close the number of the late blitzer, and realized that the ball was thrown exactly to the spot a free safety should have been. That was just an excellent read by Griffin.

      I also thought Harper was interfered with on that play, because he was hit before the ball was actually caught. But what the hell…it was close, and those replacement refs, bless their hearts, are trying their best.

      So that’s maybe 14 points the Redskins wouldn’t have had. Prophecies rarely come true this quickly.

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      • FriarBobSeptember 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm

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        How many people outside of the south know you just cussed the refs out?

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      • FriarBobSeptember 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm

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        Oh and yeah, he was hit before the ball was caught. For the idiot ref’s information, that’s always a penalty. There’s no judgement call wiggle room right there. And while the “judgement call” on Harper is technically legitimate to require “judgement”, they didn’t show ANY in making that call the way they did.

        So yeah, the real score on Sunday was 32-26-14. Saints beat each team in isolation but couldn’t win the total game of 11-on-18.

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  • FriarBobSeptember 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm

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    One last thing to say then I’m done (at least for now).

    You’re right that this was the typical bull crap the Saints seem to do once a year. They lost to a team they had no business losing to. Yes Washington is better than the Browns or the Rams or one of the other totally putrid teams out there. They are decent. But they aren’t an elite team. They aren’t even close.

    But the last couple of years, each time we got one of those losses we should have had, it woke the team up and they did good afterwards (at least for awhile).

    It happened in 2009 when they took the second half off against Tampax, then knowingly took the entire game off against Carolina. What happened next? They came out swinging and beat the crap out of Arizona and the WhineQueens. (In some ways, literally.) They woke up and played their best when it was most important, and nothing Adolf Goodell can say after the fact can change it, even if it’s true (and especially not if it’s twisted and slanted and/or even outright falsified).

    It happened in 2010. They lost to Arizona and they came out and beat the crap outta Tampax in revenge. Then they laid another egg against the Browns and they didn’t lose again until Baltimore. You can say shoulda woulda coulda that season too. The Ravens beat the foulclowns but not them and the refs that year. The Saints could have beaten the Ravens if they’d played just a touch better. Etc etc etc. If either of those could have been swapped, maybe the disaster in Seattle is avoided. If both could have been swapped, it would have been avoided. Oh well.

    It happened again in 2011. We laid an egg against Tampax, beat the crud out of the Colts in only a half of a game, then took a game and a half off. Then we didn’t lose again until the FartyWhiners.

    Based on this pattern, I see a strong potential for us beating the crud out of Carolwhina (especially so if they play as bad against us as they played against Tampax), but then possibly laying another egg against KC before we wake up and play pretty well most of the rest of the season. Green Bay will be hard — very hard — but if their defense is as putrid against us as it was against the fartywhiners we’ll have a chance. San Diego had trouble with the Raiders, so we should at least have a chance against them. Then we face Tampax coming off the bye, and then we can wave goodbye to mister silent statue and get the “real” interim coach back, and at that point frankly all bets are off… we could get really good or having yet another change in coaching style could give the team whiplash.

    In the meantime, somebody find me a drink. It’s five o’clock somewhere and I need to cool off before I bust a fuse over the combination of putrid refs and putrid play on Sunday.

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    • FriarBobSeptember 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm

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      ahem… each time we got one of those losses we shouldn’t have had…

      And I guess we’d have had to go full steam against Tampax in the 2010 season finale as well… not like I don’t believe we could have / would have if we’d really cared.

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  • GSO Saints FanSeptember 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm

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    18-1 MURTHAFLUCKAHA!!!!!!!!

    ….that was a GHASTLY experience. Ghastly.

    Someone needs to kick Kromer in whatever it is he has in the place of his/her nards, and remind him that he’s not only the O-line/rushing game coach – for the next 5 games, he’s the HMFWIC, and he needs to sack up and act like it. It’s pretty apparent that Carmichael & Brees got all blinky-lighted by the passing game, and it was Kromer’s JOB to re-focus them. He didn’t, they lost an UGLY game. As a resident of Norf Cackalacky, I do NOT need a repeat performance.

    I don’t expect one.

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  • David KellySeptember 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm

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    Are you going to the game this weekend, Himself? If so, take lots of pictures for us.

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    • HimselfSeptember 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm

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      The last time I watched the Saints play in Charlotte, they lost (that seems to be a pattern with me).

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      • David KellySeptember 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm

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        I don’t believe you’re a jinx. History can’t possibly repeat itself. It’s only week 2, but the Saints’ backs are already against the wall. They’ll be extra motivated to prove last Sunday was a fluke….I hope. They’re going to get the W in Carolina this time. Mark it down…in light pencil not pen.

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        • HimselfSeptember 11, 2012 at 7:31 pm

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          You know what has me worried? That’s right, a trend. Everything has to be part of a trend. And this time the trend is Spagnuolo’s: the Giants’ defense played like crap the first couple games with Spags as DC. And he had Michael Strahan!

          I expect the defense to play like crap. But I expect Drew Brees to do a slow burn all week and then explode Sunday, and Magic Ghost 2.0 to crap the bed again, so the Saints win by three scores anyway.

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          • PhilistineSeptember 11, 2012 at 8:14 pm

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            You do get rubbed the wrong way a lot up there in NC, don’t you?

            I’ll be happy if the Saints win – which I am not taking for granted, given the lack of a functioning defense and the injuries the team sustained.

            I too thought about how NY was a slow starter and how SpagNOLA’s scheme is still new to the team, especially considering the banzai charges that comprised GW’s defense. I think the first part of the season will be rocky – the first game sure was.

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  • Breesus Christ SuperstarSeptember 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm

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    Where do you keep running off to?

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    • PhilistineSeptember 12, 2012 at 8:51 pm

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      Shut up and drink.

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      • FriarBobSeptember 13, 2012 at 10:32 am

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        Only if you poor me something from the “top shelf” and charge me the basic prices.

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        • PhilistineSeptember 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm

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          Himself said

          Once again, I’ll be away for a couple days. Talk amongst yourselves. Help yourselves to the liquor.

          He didn’t tell us he locked up all the top-shelf stuff. Popov, anyone?

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          • FriarBobSeptember 14, 2012 at 11:46 am

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            If the Saints lose again this weekend, I’m going to need about three or four Long Islands…

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    • cc58September 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm

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      Its Harvest time.
      Those buds have to be picked at just the right time.

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