• Author:
  • Published: Feb 6th, 2010
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Super Bowl preview from the Coach's box. The Saints have their work cut out for them.

The Super Bowl preview from the Coach's box. The Saints have their work cut out for them.

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Overall

This is the game everyone except the fans of the other teams in the playoffs wanted to see–The top team in the AFC vs. the top team in the NFC. The game matches 2 of the top QBs and offenses in the last several years. But that is not going to determine the game. The key to the final score is most likely to be which defense makes the big plays.

Offense

The Saints’ O ranks 4th in passing and 6th in rushing. They are 1st in total yards and total points. While the passing game of Brees is the mainstay of the O, the running game will be just as critical in the Super Bowl. The Saints O balance should help them move the chains and keep the Colts’ O off the field.

While RB Thomas is the workhorse, RB Bush is the wild card. The 2 problems with Bush are inconsistency and fumbling. While he dominates some games, he disappears in others. Then there is the fumbling. In the post season he was as likely to generate a big play for the opponents by dropping the ball as he was for the Saints. He can not do that against the Colts if the Saints are going to win the game. The Vikes converted turnovers into field goals. The Colts will score TDs from Saint errors.

The O line has been banged up but has played well. They lost their outstanding LT Brown who is on IR early in the season. But the unknown third year T Jermon Bushrod stepped in and has done an amazing job. He had never started a game prior to this season and had been active only 3 times in his previous 2 years on the roster. The Colts D will try to put pressure on Brees by attacking the left side of the Saints line.

Defense

As much as the media has focuses on the offenses of both teams, game is more likely to be determined on the D side of the ball. The Saint D has been pushed around a lot this year. It is ranked 26 against the pass and 21st against the run. But it has come up with key turnovers all year. The team ranks 2nd in in the NFC in interceptions with 26 and 1st in TDs from those picks. They rank 10th in the NFC in recovered fumbles. A couple of turnovers would be very helpful in the Super Bowl.

The Saints have suffered some key injuries on the D line including former All Pro DE Grant and vet NT Clancy. Grant’s replacement McCray, DT Ellis and DE Smith are going to have to be able to put pressure on Manning so that the team doesn’t have to blitz as often. Manning picks blitzing teams apart. Smith is an outstanding pass rusher.

The loss of a NT for a 4-3 is not as critical as it is for a 3-4 but the Saints are down to their 3 string DT Ayodele. The 26 year old DT was picked up last year after he was cut by the Cowboys for the second time. He has filled in well but doesn’t collapse the pocket like Clancy can.

The second level has suffered injuries as well. LB Simoneau had been the starter for 2 years but was not able to even start the 09 season. OB Fujita has been in and out of the lineup with injuries but seems to be OK. OB Shanle AND Fujita are good against the run and can cover but are not strong at blitzing the QB.

The last line of defense will be tested often Sunday. The key to the DB crew is S Sharper. He is a vet and is the leader of the group. He needs to make some big plays to give the Saints a chance. CBs Greer and Porter and 5th DB Gay are going to have to be disciplined in their coverage. A broken zone against most NFL teams is a problem. Against Manning, it is a crisis. It will result in TDs more often than not.

The Bottom Line: The Saints are solid. They are the most balanced team in the NFC outside of perhaps the Vikes. The D is a concern but the Colts’ D is not any better.

The Saint offensive game plan should be to take advantage of the rookie corner of the Colts and run the ball to move the sticks so they can keep Manning and Co. off the field. They must be able to run the ball to win. They should also use RB Bush to challenge the LBs ability to cover the pass.

Their D game plan should be to change up their rush and pass coverages often and challenge the O line. They need to get good hits on the receivers early. The Colt receivers are young and may get SB jitters.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday morning at 11. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 22nd, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Saints will come marching into the end zone often.

The Saints will come marching into the end zone often.

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There is no question that the Saints have one of the most dangerous Os in the league. Their win/loss record will depend most on how well they can stop the other team from doing the same thing.

Drew Brees is the #2 QB in most Fantasy Drafts this year for good reason. In the last 3 seasons he has thrown 26, 28 and 34 TDs. The only comment that some QB gurus make is that he is too short at a little under 6 feet to see over the O linemen. Let’s be honest. When you have 5 guys that are between 6-8 and 6-5 in front of you, you have to be 8 feet tall to see over them. Every QB needs to look in between his linemen to find his target. Brees has it all—leadership, arm, accuracy, ability to read coverage, ability to move in the pocket and rush awareness. His backup is Mark Brunell. Mark has to use Grecian Formula 88 to keep his hair brown because Grecian Formula 44 wasn’t strong enough. He is 39 but is a reasonable backup. Joey Harrington joins Brunell on the bench.

The Saints running game is a little up in the air. If you look at all the preseason books, they show Reggie Bush as the starter. He may but his has never in his college or professional career been “the” guy. Even sharing the position with a number of other Saints, he has not been healthy for an entire season over the last 2 years. He is a talent and has speed and elusiveness. But he is not built to handle 25 carries a game for 16 games plus playoffs.

My Fantasy tip of the year—get Pierre Thomas as your 2nd or 3rd RB. He averages 4.8 yards per carry and scored 12 TDs last year (9 rushing). The duo is solid and should make it difficult for defenses trying to defend the pass. The FB is Heath Evans, an excellent blocker and receiver out of the backfield.

The receiver corps is a 3 headed monster. Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore are as good as any 3 in the NFC. Colston was out for 5 games but the O never seemed to slow down. There may be another head added to the group because Robert Meachem is getting better and is a solid threat. The TE are Jeremy Shockey, Billy Miller, and Darnell Dinkins all of whom have been starters. Shockey was a disappoint primarily due to injuries. He still caught 50 balls.

One of the goals on the O line last year was to get bigger and tougher. Ts Jammal Brown and Jon Stinchcomb were the only guys to survive the change. The team added 2 rookie guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans and both were OK. Jonathan Goodwin stepped in at C. The entire group is back with Brown as the best of the line. G/C Jamar Nesbit, T Zach Strief and C Nick Leckey provide veteran depth.

If the O is the good and the D is the bad then the D line is the ugly. Both DEs Charles Grant and Will Smith had injuries last season and have been suspended for the first 4 games for substance violations. Bobby McCray, Paul Spicer and E Anthony Hargrove will battle to start in their place. Spicer and Hargrove were UFA additions and have look very good in camp and in the first preseason game. DTs Sedrick Ellis and Kendrick Clancy were OK. Ellis started as a rookie.

The team traded for MLB Jonathan Vilma and he solidified the middle of the D. It’s a good thing because backup MLB Mark Simoneau was put on the IR with a torn tricep. SLB Scott Fujita and WLB Scott Shanle are projected to start but may be challenged. UFA and former all pro Derick Brooks was signed to bolster the LBs. He provides leadership and is particularly good at pass coverage.

The D backfield last year was a major problem. The team brought in vet CB Jabari Greer and drafted rookie Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State. They will challenge expected starters Randall Gay and Tracy Porter. UFA FS Darren Sharper brings leadership and joins SS Roman Harper to solidify the last line of defense. The group should be better with the additions. Vet S Pierson Prioleau was signed as a solid backup and former starter Jason David is expected to be the 5th DB or be cut due to his salary.

OVERALL: The Saints are great on O but improving on D. They will challenge the Falcons for the NFC South title. The winner will be whichever D plays the best. Bet on the Falcons with the Saints a possible wild card team.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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