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Post time 2019-1-22 13:47:45 | Show all posts |Read mode
The Saints have piled up big numbers for years.The fact they’re doing it with their defense is new.But that was the case last night against the Falcons https://www.thesaintsfanshop.com/Thomas-Morstead-Jersey , with the Saints forcing four turnovers (including three in the red zone) and sacking Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.鈥淚t could have been more,鈥?defensive end Cameron Jordan said, via Luke Johnson of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. 鈥淭here was so much left on the table. 鈥?It is what it is.鈥漈hat seems almost greedy, but the Saints have come a long way from having a defense that only had to be not-terrible, thanks to Drew Brees. Now, they’re actually getting things done on their own.The Saints held the Falcons to 26 yards on 16 rush attempts, taking away what the Falcons were hoping to be the foundation of their game plan. The only thing the Saints defense didn’t do was score, but again, they’re playing with that Brees guy (who only needed 22 pass attempts and 171 yards to throw four touchdowns).The contrast is also amazing. The Saints set a league record for yards allowed in a season in 2012, and they were 31st in the league in 2014 and 2015. That rank climbed steadily, as they were 27th in 2016 and 17th’s last year. No one’s going to confuse them for the 1985 Bears, but they’re definitely moving in the right direction.That includes the course of this season, too. In the opener, they gave up 417 yards and four touchdowns through the air, and didn’t have a sack or a turnover. Against the Buccaneers. In a loss.鈥淎fter the first game, the world was sort of against us,鈥?Jordan said. 鈥淓verybody was trying to say the sky was falling.鈥漈hey haven’t lost since, and no one is saying that now. The New Orleans Saints are coming off of an awful offensive showing in a listless 13-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Thursday. It was their worst offensive production since the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era began in 2006, finishing with just 178 total yards. The Saints still possess one of the league's most balanced and productive offenses, ranking in the top ten in all major categories and averaging nearly 35 points per game. Thursday's game was the first time New Orleans had been held under 30 points in five games, and only the second time they had scored less than 24 points all season. They now face a Tampa Bay team that has been hit hard by injuries defensively, has allowed nearly 30 points per game and almost 400 yards an outing. The Buccaneers defeated the Saints in New Orleans on opening day, but the Saints still scored 40 points and passed for well over 400 yards. Let's take a look at how well the New Orleans offense matches up against a battered Tampa defense in this rematch. SAINTS PASS OFFENSE VS. BUCCANEERS PASS DEFENSE Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesThe Saints offensive struggles against Dallas started up front, with an offensive line that had dominated opponents all season. Quarterback Drew Brees was sacked twice, took multiple hits, and was under constant pressure. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod and center Max Unger struggled in particular, but the entire line will be looking for a bounceback performance. They have still allowed their quarterback to be sacked only 12 times on the year, and often gives him a clean pocket to operate. Brees is still completing his passes at an almost 76% clip Trey Hendrickson Jersey , well on pace to surpass his own single season completion percentage record of 72% set last year. Despite a game ending interception last week, Brees has still thrown 30 touchdown passes against just 3 interceptions for a passing attack that averages 272 yards per outing. The team's top receiver, and one of the best wideouts in the NFL, is Michael Thomas, who has 91 catches for 1,120 yards and 8 touchdowns. Thomas is a physical target who makes a nearly impossible catch look routine, and is a focal point of the Saints attack. When Thomas is contained, as he was last week due to constant muggings from Dallas' Byron Jones, the Saints other receivers have not stepped up consistently. The team's second leading receiver is running back Alvin Kamara, who has 65 receptions for 555 yards, but the dropoff in production after that is concerning. Tight end Benjamin Watson has the third most receptions on the team with 28, but has just two catches in the last four games. Rookies Tre'Quan Smith (22 catches, 371 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Keith Kirkwood (7-113, 2) have each had some bright moments, but have been inconsistent. Kirkwood and backup tight end Dan Arnold were the only two wideouts or tight ends other than Thomas to even have a reception against the Cowboys. New Orleans did sign productive veteran Brandon Marshall last month, but he has yet to be activated for a game. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesTampa Bay has one of the worst pass defenses in the league. They've surrendered over 274 yards per game and a league second-worst 28 touchdown passes. They have the talent up front to pressure quarterbacks though, and have 33 sacks, along with 77 quarterback hits on the year. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul leads the Bucs with 11.5 takedowns, but can pressure well with ends Vinny Curry, William Gholston, and Carl Nassib, along with getting good interior rush from tackles Gerald McCoy and Vita Vea. The units behind these talented linemen have been handcuffed by injuries, poor play, and bad game plans however, leading to the dismissal of coordinator Mike Smith before the midseason mark. The Buccaneers expected to come into the season with one of the most athletic linebacking units in the league, but have been without Kwon Alexander and Kendell Beckwith, who are on injured reserve. Lavonte David is still one of the better linebackers in the league Josh Hill Color Rush Jersey , but the unit has been somewhat disappointing. The Buccaneers secondary has been plagued by injury and poor play as well. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and safety Chris Conte have been on injured reserve since early in the the year, M.J. Stewart has missed the last five games, and cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Carlton Davis are questionable this week after missing the last game with leg injuries. Tampa Bay has just 7 interceptions this season, with 4 coming in last week's victory over Carolina. Safety Andrew Adams had three of those picks, and the Bucs have a talented safety tandem in Justin Evans and Jordan Whitehead to go along with solid corner Ryan Smith. Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports~ Matchup to Watch: Saints offensive line vs. Buccaneers defensive line ~The Saints offensive line has bullied opponents most of the season, usually taking complete control of games early and setting the tone for the offense. Brees' two sacks suffered against Dallas were from the edge, but he was under constant duress up the middle. Michael Thomas looks to have a big advantage against a beat up Bucs secondary, and opportunities should be there for the other receiving weapons. The offensive line must give Brees a clean pocket to work through his reads, something they've struggled with against the Bucs in the past. Left tackle Terron Armstead is expected to miss another game with injury, so Bushrod will look to rebound, and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk injured his arm late in the Dallas loss. They will look to contain Tampa's talented edge rushers, but the Saints need improvement from their interior. Unger and guards Andrus Peat and Larry Warford must win their battles with McCoy and the big Bucs tackles to not only allow Brees a clear pocket to work, but also open holes for the team's talented running backs. SAINTS RUN OFFENSE VS. BUCCANEERS RUN DEFENSE Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsFor the first time since week two,the Saints were held to under 100 yards rushing last week, finishing with just 65 on the ground against Dallas. They have still averaged 127 yards per game rushing, and their 19 scores on the ground are first in the league. Alvin Kamara leads the way with 742 yards rushing yards and 11 scores, and Mark Ingram has added 467 yards and 4 touchdowns. The two have averaged 4.7 per carry, and can threaten a defense both outside and between the tackles. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsTampa Bay has allowed five yards per carry and 121 rushing yards per game, ranking in the bottom third of the league. They've allowed six consecutive opponents to rush for well over 100 yards, and have given up over 145 on the ground in the last three games. Tackles McCoy,Vea, and Beau Allen are big bodied defenders in middle, and linebackers David, Adarius Taylor, and Kevin Minter flow to the ball carrier well. The Bucs defense struggles to keep edge containment though, and their tackles have not been consistently winning the inside battles, often allowing runners to break into the open field. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports~ Matchup to Watch: Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram vs. Buccaneers LB's ~The Buccaneers have had no answer for Kamara, one of the most versatile players in the NFL. He has averaged 140 yards from scrimmage in three games against Tampa Bay https://www.thesaintsfanshop.com/Craig-Robertson-Jersey , while scoring 7 touchdowns.

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