Game # 13 Open Thread: Saints @ Falcons

Saints (-4) @ Falcons: 8:30 PM EST, Georgia Dome, ESPN

Some links before a diatribe I wrote several days ago and am just getting around to posting today. I've got a bad feeling about this game.

  • Hey, did you know that Robert Meachem once dunked on LeBron James? I'd love to see what a receiver with that sort of athleticism would do in the Saints' offense.
  • Hmm, beat Atlanta. Arizona is ahead of them, so they beat them. Philly is wounded, they can take them. Chicago isn't as daunting as they once were. Whatever, don't hold your breath.

And now for something a little different. ...

I'm just gonna come out and say it: The Saints' tackles are pretty terrible run blockers. Don't believe me? Check out the second table on this page, or check out the reproduced version below. The Football Outsiders break each team's offensive line down by Adjusted Line Yardage in each direction a run can go (left end, left tackle, middle/guard, right tackle and right end). Essentially, Adjusted Line Yardage is their attempt at separating line performance from running back performance (admittedly, an impossible task). In theory, Adjusted Line Yardage will tell you how a league average runner will perform running behind that lineman. So what do we see?

Saints offensive line vs. league average by Adj. Line Yds.
Left End Left Tackle Mid/Guard Right Tackle Right End
2007 Saints 3.20 (29) 3.24 (30) 4.68 (4) 3.82 (24) 3.10 (29)
2006 Saints 4.38 (12) 4.12 (21) 4.55 (10) 3.91 (28) 4.42 (11)
2007 NFL Avg. 4.18 4.36 4.11 4.25 4.12
2006 NFL Avg. 4.12 4.37 4.32 4.21 4.05

I'm not as interested in the numbers as much as the rankings. And they're not promising. Up the middle, the Saints have been an elite running team over the past two seasons. On the peripheries, the Saints can't run very successfully.

Sure, the line can pass protect at an elite level (helped, of course, by Drew Brees' decision making and release). But only a select few offenses can live by passing the ball every down. The Saints don't appear to be one of them. The reason the Patriots can throw 34 straight times? They have receivers like Randy Moss, who are consistently open. Athletically, the closest thing the Saints have to Randy Moss is Robert Meachem (who once dunked on LeBron James). He's not seeing the field any time soon.

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