Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blessed and Highly Favored - or - The Saints Are Coming! The Saints Are Coming!

One of the best things about playing a team twice in the season is that as a blogger, I get to recycle some of my first match-up article for use on the second match-up. Unfortunately, when we met the Saints in week 4 of the pre-season, both teams fielded a completely different version of themselves so I can't do that here.

We didn't face Drew Brees and his assortment of receiving goodies, and we didn't face what has turned into one of the top defenses in the NFL. We faced the 2nd and 3rd stringers, and the hapless Joey Harrington. At one point they wheeled Mark Brunell onto the field, and we took advantage. It's amazing how the team with arguably the best starting QB in the league had such mediocre depth at the position. They have since gotten rid of Harrington and have Brunell and Chase Daniel as the back-ups.

I'm not going to lie to you. Miami's best shot at winning this game is for Brees to get food poisoning mere minutes before the game.

Even that may not be enough. I'm by no means a Saints fan, but they have several things going for them that make them an intimidating opponent.

The Receiving Corps
Not to take anything away from Brees, but just about any QB would look good with this group of receivers. Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson, and of course Jeremy Shockey are the main event but they use running backs, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, and Heath Evans in the passing game as well. The ability to put 8 or 9 legitimate receiving threats on the field in a game is one of the tactical advantages New Orleans brings to the game. The wide receivers make the kinds of plays that show up on highlight reels on a consistent basis. Brees knows he can put the ball up for them to make a play on it, and they will make the effort to get it. In watching the Giants/Saints game this past week, you can see Brees time and again making throws that most people would expect to fall incomplete or be intercepted. But for the most part, his receivers were ready for the early throw, or battled it out for the deep lob.

The Defensive Backfield
Eli Manning had tons of time to make throws, and went deep time and again, and the Saints secondary was all over it. Talk about speed - Jabari Greer looks like he's found new legs, and Tracy Porter continues to be the best cornerback you've never heard of in the NFL. Starting safeties Roman Harper and Darren Sharper seem to be in a perpetual cover-2 scheme, making the deep ball very tough to place. But there is another dimension to the Saints' DBs - the Blitz. Sean Payton sends blitzes frequently and from all different angles. The safety blitz is something the Dolphins can expect to see a good ten times a game, and they will blitz a nickel corner a few times as well.

These two units, combined with Drew Brees' quiet leadership and poise, and very accurate, very brave passing, and Sean Payton's coaching, is my opinion on why the Saints are undefeated and getting the media buzz they are. Being unstoppable in the passing game, and preventing other teams from passing on them makes for a pretty harsh opponent.

But since I only pointed out two specific units as strengths, you can probably foresee that I'm about to point out more weaknesses than you can shake a stick at (I don't know what that cliche actually means, but it fits here, right?).


Offensive Line
This isn't a bad group, but they're not that great either. Pro-Bowler Jammal Brown is on injured reserve, and while the rest of the group has been moving the chains, I wasn't impressed with the pass-protection I saw from them. Brees gets hit a lot. They're not forming a pocket around him. And a lot of their running game comes from the outside. It will be work, but there's no reason why we won't have a good chance at getting pressure and limiting their running game.

The Linebackers

If Scott Fujita can't go on Sunday, then backup Troy Evans takes over. Johnathan Vilma is on pace to end up with 50 fewer tackles than last year. These guys are not really designed to stuff a power running game coming off a Bye week. If we can get past their defensive line, we should be able to push for extra yardage. They're also not a huge pass-rush threat, though the Saints will find other ways to create pressure, as mentioned above.

Special Teams

This could be the first time we face an opponent this year with worse kick coverage than ourselves. They looked awful vs the Giants, allowing Dominic Hixon to rack up 230 yards on 7 kick returns and 51 yards on 2 punt returns. Considering this will be Ted Ginn's first opportunity at more than one return in a game, there could be opportunity here for the Dolphins.

Reggie Bush
What's strange to me is that Bush is listed first on the Saints depth chart when basically all he does is return punts and run for negative yardage. I don't understand the Saints love-affair with Bush, especially considering Miami's hate affair with Ginn. Say what you like but Ginn has made more of an impact than Bush has for their respective teams. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the Saints having Bush active is much the same as the Dolphins having Pat White active on game days, so they sort of cancel each other out.


Ok, here's the deal. The Saints are a damn good football team. But they are not unbeatable. They win by having a very balanced offense, and running a lot of play action. which sets up big plays down the field. Basically a very normal, un-gimmicky offense that is just executed very well. If an opponent facing them was able to do the same thing, then they'd have a good shot at defeating them. That opponent might as well be the Dolphins.


New Orleans Saints at Miami Dolphins

New Orleans
Questionable: LB Scott Fujita (calf), CB Malcolm Jenkins (ankle)

Probable: LB Jonathan Casillas (calf), TE Jeremy Shockey (shoulder), CB Leigh Torrence (hamstring), DE Jeff Charleston (rib), G Jahri Evans (toe), LS Jason Kyle (knee, ankle), P Thomas Morstead (right ankle)

No injuries to report.


  1. Tin, I think your summation is accurate. We'll see on Sunday where the 'bear shits in the buckwheat' <span style="font-family: verdana;"><span style="">(I don't know what that cliche actually means, but it fits here, right?). </span></span> O:-)

    We need more pressure on Brees from our fronts than we've put on anyone yet to give our DBs a fighting chance.

  2. LOL, I've never heard THAT one!

  3. Hey Tin,
    Been too busy to read recently, let alone post anything meaningful (there's a first time for everything right? *DONT_KNOW* ), but I'm back home now and sat in front of the Moscow - Man U game, fingers flexed and thought I'd share the team news with you as follows:

    Man Utd: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Fabio Da Silva, O'Shea, Valencia, Scholes, Anderson, Nani, Berbatov.
    Subs: Kuszczak, Brown, Owen, Carrick, Welbeck, Jonathan Evans, Macheda.

    OK - stop cringing. Your mate O'Shea in midfield ( >:o ) and Berbatov up front on his own ( :( ). Looks like Fergie wants a 0-0 draw, but =-X  as far as the score is concerned as I'm sure you'll be watching it later?

    There are 1,000 United fans there. 300 Moscow reds :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D  (sorry) and 700 travelling fans. Considering the visa is $150, before you start to pay for, in descending cost, beer, flights and accomodation, how do they afford it?

    Have you seen how Liverpool's fortune's have fared recently? SUCH a shame?

    As I have posted a soccer post on your blog, I predict, in a bible-like fashion, Knight will pick up his bed and walk and there will be a parcheesi comment in the next 30 mins? Chuckle.

  4. Yes I will be watching it later, so ixne on the score, please. Is Rooney
    out with a back injury? How did he get injured - in practices?
    I watched the Bolton match, good stuff. Valencia looked better and Anderson
    wasn't too bad. And the answer to how the fans afford the travel costs,
    it's called 'benefit', I believe.
    What happened to Liverpool and should I really care?
    Knight must have used the bye-week as an opportunity to start up his
    gardening again.

  5. No texas holdem comes to mind for me

  6. wow, i understand tin just made it sound like are chances of winning are as about as good as mine are with alyssa milano, but did we really have to resort to a soccer post.  especially when tin want even watch usa soccer =-X

  7. ffr, I have been supporting man united since I was a tadpole. The only
    other team I ever supported was the Columbian national team when Valderama
    played for them, but once Escobar was assassinated, I moved on. I watched
    some of the US pro stuff when it first started up (I think Valderama was on
    the Miami team) but it was some of the most boring soccer ever, so I stopped
    and never went back.
    Even though I played soccer on a National under 14 team for a couple of
    years (actually played on the over 14 team BEFORE playing on the unders -
    long story) and on a club team later on, I'm not a huge fan of watching
    soccer, especially during the football season. I have no time to watch
    other sports between NCAA and NFL football, but make an exception and watch
    the Red Devils when I can. I'm not following the world of soccer, in other

  8. No probs.
    I missed all the Bolton game and didn't even know Roon was injured. You know more than me! I suspect he's being rested ahead of Sunday?
    Well, their disasterous week started at the weekend. Check out these vids in order. I think you will enjoy them!
    Liverpool's misery was further compounded when they conceded a goal in injury time last night in the CL and here's their table now.

    <table class="shorttable" border="1" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="1">
    <tr class="r2">
    <td class="c1">1</td>
    <td class="c2">Lyon</td>
    <td class="c3">3</td>
    <td class="c4">3</td>
    <td class="c5">0</td>
    <td class="c6">0</td>
    <td class="c7">7</td>
    <td class="c8">1</td>
    <td class="c9">6</td>
    <td class="c10">9</td>
    <tr class="r1">
    <td class="c1">2</td>
    <td class="c2">Fiorentina</td>
    <td class="c3">3</td>
    <td class="c4">2</td>
    <td class="c5">0</td>
    <td class="c6">1</td>
    <td class="c7">6</td>
    <td class="c8">4</td>
    <td class="c9">2</td>
    <td class="c10">6</td>
    <tr class="r2">
    <td class="c1">3</td>
    <td class="c2">Liverpool</td>
    <td class="c3">3</td>
    <td class="c4">1</td>
    <td class="c5">0</td>
    <td class="c6">2</td>
    <td class="c7">2</td>
    <td class="c8">4</td>
    <td class="c9">-2</td>
    <td class="c10">3</td>
    <tr class="r1">
    <td class="c1">4</td>
    <td class="c2">Debrecen</td>
    <td class="c3">3</td>
    <td class="c4">0</td>
    <td class="c5">0</td>
    <td class="c6">3</td>
    <td class="c7">3</td>
    <td class="c8">9</td>
    <td class="c9">-6</td>
    <td class="c10">0</td>

    Just to make matters worse, Torres missed the CL game last night with injury and Gerard limped off, so they could be very under strength for the game against us on Sunday (and certainly lacking in confidence after losing 4 games in the Premiership too).
    Lol on the benefits comment. Unfortunately, you are right and it's my bl**dy taxes!
    I loved your comment on an earlier blog abt Knight too ..... he's doing whatever they do in Jersey. I have no idea what that is either, but it really made me laugh!

  9. If we can keep from beating ourselves, we can take the Saints.  Ted Ginn on returns could be that extra bit we need.  Our record doesn't do us justice, and that will show Sunday.  I think our main issues have been the "gel-ing" factor.  Basically a new interior oline, retooled secondary, fresh QB.  All these pieces are capable and now have the preparation needed.  Hopefully I'm right and we see Brees shut down and R&R cut loose. 

    Question-Do we see WR Turner activated this week?

  10. I don't see us winning this game, but no team has ever won a game before it was played and that alone will give us hope.  This is one game that has strange match ups they don't stop the run and we don't stop the pass.  This game will be closer than what the lip smackers at espn think.  With no mistakes and a turn over or so by them we can win this game, I just don't see it happening.

  11. I can't watch the vids at work so I'll check them out later.
    Rooney wasn't present at Bolton, they went with Berbatov and Owen (who had a
    terrible first 5 minutes followed by a great second 5 minutes, then he got
    yanked because he tweaked an injury). The announcer quickly mentioned
    something about Rooney being out due to a 'poor back' but never said what
    happened. He didn't get injured in a game to my knowledge. Perhaps he
    pulled something carrying all of Colleen's shopping bags?

  12. tin, i was just joking, i dont follow soccer at all.  i like watching it when i get a chance but i am not like my brother, who even attends the USF womens soccer games.  LOL, he called me last thru asked if i wanted to go, i told him i couldnt, i had to plans to slowly watch some of the water evaporate from my pool.  btw,  heard today that the USF mens soccer team was ranked in the top 10

  13. I don't think we can shut down Brees, but if we can stop a couple of their
    drives with a turnover and keep their running game from being a factor, we
    should be able to force some punts and once our offense is on the field it's
    all about keeping the time of possession in our column.
    Personally, I'd rather have Turner active than Pat White. Even if he only
    gets a couple of snaps in the game.

  14. The saints are actually 4th in the league at stopping the run.

  15. I think both USF soccer teams are ranked.
    The only women's sport I'd actually perk up to go watch is volleyball. I
    don't give a toss about volleyball, but....

  16. Enjoy.
    LOL @ Colleen comment. I think (and hope) he'll be back for Sunday.

  17. i heard USC next year will be making womens beach volleyball a school sport.  and the gators decision..........they decided to go with womens lacrosse

  18. Oh, forgot to tell you my uniform tale - I ordered an away uniform
    (black/blue) on eBay, was all excited, didn't realize the sizes were Asian
    sizes. get this, I asked the seller for a 2XL. After about 2 1/2 weeks it
    finally arrived but the Tag said 3XL. I thought maybe it was in UK sizes
    which is one size bigger than US, so I wasn't bothered, then I went to try
    it on (without really looking at it obviously) and it couldn't have been
    bigger than a Medium! Those asians must be tiny. They need to change the
    sizing charts there to be Medium, Small, American Child, Typical Asian Size,
    Small Asian, American Toddler, Petite Asian, 4XSmall.

  19. i don't like the beach volleyball - the women all look like dudes with
    massive guns and sixpacks and skin cancer. I like the indoor one with the
    skin tight shorts and long legs.

  20. that is cause you are watching the AVP mens tour.

  21. UK, that Rooney article is from January! lol

  22. Lol @ the jersey story. I worked with a Japanese compnay on a JV for some time and with several delegates from their HQ. One of them was about 5' 10" and he was considered a giant at home! Next time, ask for "Sumo" size?
    How long til your son grows into that jersey?

  23. A long time. It's not easy being 6'4", 265 lbs in the sporting fashion

  24. ...the Jets defense (the one we ran and passed all over) held them to 24 and but for a couple mistakes would have beat them ...thus they are most certainly not invulnerable ...I think tin is right on this (despite his PW hate bits), we replay the Indy game plan w/o any mistakes and we win going away.
    ...its Henne's third game and time for the real guy to show up he a Sanchez who has a couple good games and then falls apart? ...or is he the real thing ...contrary to ESPN I think Henne will be the story of this game when its over, for better or worse.

    ...whatever Turner's problem(s) is/are, the coaches have not put him on the field in five games now, the last two of which Henne started ...I think that is most significant because Turner was Henne's primary target when Henne was running the 2nd team ...if Turner had any prospect of seeing game action, it would be as Henne's go to man and that just has not happened ...I do think we'll see more of Hartline if he has gotten the penalty flags worked out of his system, especially in the red zone where Ginn's speed just doesn't work.

    ...Ginn showed some return flash in his first year under Cameron but when tried under Sparano's STs, he showed worse than nothing, heading for the sideline everytime he got the ball ...that is of course correctable but I'd not be betting the barn on Ginn setting the ST on fire.

    ...I expect Smith will also be a game-time story ...hero or goat I'm not sure but Brees will certainly give him every opportunity.

    ...I really think Miami has a better than even chance of winning this game if Henne shows up.

  25. OK - game has finished now, but Real Madrid vs AC Milan starts shortly. Anyway, enough English football - back to American, except to say that the Utd Liverpool game kicks off at 2pm local then the Fins at 9:15pm so that's a cracking day of sporting entertainment. The 8th of November is a breathless 4pm kick off for Chelsea United, followed by the fins at 6pm.

    Anyway, back to the Saints. I would suggest only blind optimists, homers and relatives of Joe Namath would be thinking we were going to win, but I agree that we could win. The mtach up I am most looking forward to seeing is our pass-rush/DB combo versus the NO passing attack. This will be a real test for our defensive backfield and I can't wait to see how well we perform. Can Will Allen make some big plays or will he be picked on and beaten again? It would be nice to try to rough Brees up early a little and try to stop him settling. I'm really glad it's at our stadium and not that dome. Hopefully, the outdoors, grass and fans can also help to prevent NO getting that rhythm going too. (Anyone know what the weather forecast is?) We certainly want to keep the ball on the ground and TOP up, but I also hope we take a few will-timed shots down the field too, just to keep the Saints D from settling as well.

    The UK is revving up for the Wembley game. What a non-event. As if NE didn't have enough of a "bye" last week with the Titans, they now face the winless Bucs before the fins match up. That's another passing attack that will test us to the limit. We somehow get to Brady though? Amazing what a difference hatred makes?

    Btw, is Tully Banta-Cain really a linebacker of an extra from Star Wars?

  26. The Knight who says Ni!October 21, 2009 at 12:03 PM

    To beat the Saints we have to keep Brees off the field like we did to Peyton, but we have to play closer coverage and tackle. We also must get some pressure from time to time. We're not going to sack Brees much if at all, he doesn't take sacks. I'm still not sold on the Saints defense. I think we can move the ball on them. It's going to be a tough game for sure.

  27. ...Sunday is supposed to be hot and humid the low 90s (F) ...but I don't think we'll gain much advantage from the heat index over NO which is almost as hot and humid as Miami ...and remember that we practice quite a bit inside our own mini dome these days.

  28. Oops - I googled "rooney injury bolton" and never checked the date!
    Here's a more recent one!,19528,11095_5630807,00.html
    As I suspected, the Liverpool game is the biggest and he wants him back for that.

  29. Isn't sporting fashion an oxy-moron? ;) *DONT_KNOW*

  30. The Knight who says Ni!October 21, 2009 at 12:09 PM

    I would love to see Henne match Brees if it becomes a shootout. That would shake up the NFL world about the young gunslinger in Miami instead of all the hype about the struggling and overrated Sanchez in New York.

  31. Call me out for my White hate (hmm, that sounds wrong), but you're not being
    fair to Ginn regarding returns. He's had a handful of TDs called back due
    to penalty. In 2007 he was the 3rd best returner in the league. In 2008 he
    had half the kickoff returns and a quarter of the punt return attempts he
    had in 2007. This year he's only had 1 punt return and 4 kickoff return
    attempts. Hardly enough to agree with the media's take that he's not cutting
    it on returns.

  32. ps, i agree with the rest of your post,, lemmus. lol

  33. Don't forget that American Idol, Kris Allen, will be singing the national
    anthem. If we can pack the stadium with 14 year old girls, the noise level
    could be all-time high!

  34. Knight, not even a 'Hello?'
    Didn't know they had the internet in whatever prison you've been sent

  35. ...the NO OL is not great in defending the pass rush, you rarely see a good pocket form around Brees ...but Brees is very mobile and instinctive in avoiding the rush, plus hes very quick in getting rid of the ball ...I think our DEs and OLBs can pressure the hell out of him if not actual sacks and that pressure is what we need to see ...if you watched what the Jets did to him, it was pretty successful in keeping his numbers down ...he's going to make passes, that's a certainty ...but if we can get in his face or passing lanes often enough, we can keep the score within reason and beat him with our running game.

  36. "you rarely see a good pocket form around Brees ...but Brees is very mobile
    and instinctive in avoiding the rush, plus hes very quick in getting rid of
    the ball .."
    true - I would say rather than quick to get rid of the ball, he knows how
    long he has before he gets hit, and thus he takes a lot of hits right after
    throwing the ball. Unlike Peyton Manning who throws the ball immediately,
    he'll hold on to it until he's ready. But his release is qucik enough to
    avoid the sack.

  37. Knight - is that really you?
    Tin - I told you - even the mention of soccer on a blog smokes Knight out!!!

  38. Lemmus - I was hoping for 15 inches of rain during the game. lol

  39. ...hey tin, I think I am being fair to Ginn ...I said he had a good return game under Cameron but not under Sparano and the stats show that to be true're right in that his attempts are way down but I think that is because he wasn't being productive in returns when Sparano tried him out ...he suddenly got sidelinitis in his 2nd year ...much like his receiving habits.

    ...and when did I ever agree with the "media take" on anything except Omar's OL takes? :)

  40. The Knight who says Ni!October 21, 2009 at 12:29 PM

    Hey guys! Like I said on the SS I had some business to take care of in Sherwood forest. So HELLO!!! you sons of a hampster with father's who smell of elderberries.  :-P

  41. I knew someone would bring up the stat sheets, they always do.

  42. Tins,

    Great post today.  It is very odd about the "love affair" with Reggie Bush since he's essentially their 3rd best running back behind Bell & Thomas.   I don't get it either.  Since Bush still plays he's by no means an actual "bust" but compared to the hype surrounding him coming out of college he's been a MUCH bigger disappointment than Ginn.  In addition at least Ginn isn't hurt all the time & living out his life on a pathetic "reality" show.

    As for the Saints as a team....Well, they're pretty damn good!!!  I don't care what the Giants did wrong last week the Saints beat up one of the better teams in the NFL & it wasn't even close.  With that said the Giants allowed Brees to do whatever he wanted by not putting enough (if any) pressure on him.  The combination of receiving threats (Colston is f#cking great btw) will make our secondary look as inept as we did in Arizona last year or against the Colts this year if we give Brees enough time.  Pressure. Pressure. And more pressure will be the only way to give us a legitimate chance.    Porter will HAVE to be healthy & play like he did last year in order to give us a chance.

    The Saints have actually really improved on defense from last year.  BTW--I thought Jabari Greer came on last year in Buffalo & thought he'd be a great replacement for Goodman.  Speaking of Goodman, the only other defense that looks MORE improved than the Sainst from last year is the Broncos.   With that said Vonnie Holliday is really the only player on that defense that I'd like back.  

  43. Ha!!!  LOL @ Tins.  Hope it wasn't a Mexican prison Knight....

  44. ...Henne isn't as photogenic or media friendly as Sanchez.

    ...I pray it doesn't become a gunslinging contest ...Brees has a much better receiving corps imnsho and the NO safeties look much better than ours ...we need to run the ball down their throats and keep Brees on the sideline ...that's OUR game and we need to stick to it's hoping that we don't get so far behind early that Henning tries to play catch up with a passing attack ...that is sure death imo and Henne's numbers will look like Sanchez all of a sudden.

  45. The Knight who says Ni!October 21, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    I knew Bush would never be more than he is in the NFL. He played on a USC team that sent a bunch of OL to the pros. Those guys knocked out half the defense and Bush would run around like he was playing against 5 year olds.

  46. Sherwood Forest ....... have you been wearing those green tights again?!?

  47. <span style="">"The safety blitz is something the Dolphins can expect to see a good ten times a game, and they will blitz a nickel corner a few times as well."</span>

    <span style="">Tins,</span>

    <span style="">You are 100% correct & it's very effective.  I was actually wondering during the Giants game why our defense isn't doing this more often.</span>

  48. The Knight who says Ni!October 21, 2009 at 12:42 PM

    No... I wear mostly black. I laugh at those sillies skipping through the forest in green tights. Nancy boys is what they are.

  49. The Knight who says Ni!October 21, 2009 at 12:44 PM

    Sherwood forest is not a prison, it's a nice place with big trees and quite a selection of inexpensive shrubberies that are nice.

  50. The Knight who says Ni!October 21, 2009 at 12:44 PM

    At least Henne resembles an NFL QB.  :-D

  51. Henne is NOT Sanchez.  Henne was a 4 year starter in college & learned from a consummate professional in how to prepare.  Sanchez came out a year early, he didn't have a whole lot of starts compared to Henne, & he's flying blind. 

    Sanchez is an intelligent, likeable guy & all but he's not ready to be a starter where as Henne is.

  52. "Henne isn't as photogenic or media friendly as Sanchez."
    ...or as flaming...

  53. The Knight who says Ni!October 21, 2009 at 12:55 PM

    Sanchez looks like he belongs on 90120 while Henne looks like he should be on Hard Knocks.

  54. We Have PlaymakersOctober 21, 2009 at 1:05 PM


    I think you & the Texans GM were the only one.  The problem with Bush is that his outstanding play in college was predicated on speed & break away abilty bu when he got to the NFL he just wasn't fast enough to turn the corner.  If you look at the kid on Tennesse Chris Johnson he has REAL breakaway NFL speed.

  55. The Knight who says Ni!October 21, 2009 at 1:20 PM

    From the beginning I said Houston should take Mario Williams and I wasn't the only one. Some of my friends had the same opinion of Bush. What he did in college would not translate to the NFL. It wasn't that hard to predict if you watched the plays he ran and what he didn't do. He didn't run between the tackles and he got the ball in space that he was not going to get in the NFL.

  56. LMAO.  I used to live in Sherwood Forest.  No lie!  And none of the shrubberies were inexpensive.   At least not the ones the landscaper picked out for my house!  ;)

  57. I used to work in the city of Sherwood. Lots of Mormons there.