As a former college QB, the one thing I was most afraid of finding out tonight is came true. We have not changed our run SCHEME. We continue to use a slow-developing push-push-push-forward scheme rather than a quick-hitting scheme with traps, counters, and pulls. It doesn't fit our RB, deflates the morale and attitude of the OL and the RBs, and (believe it or not) hurts the passing game and defense. I believe it is a major reason we didn't make the playoffs the last two years. Why isn't Payton willing to adjust his scheme to do what is successful around the league and here?I'm so tired of all the individualistic-blame jabber about our RB personnel being the problem. The problem is our o-line run scheme. Payton uses the plan Dallas successfully used while he was there: with one of the most massive lines in the game, each o-lineman simply pushes one-on-one to create space for a slow-developing run-style back. But this does not work for almost any other situation, and certainly not for us for three reasons.
(1) It fails to create quick-opening holes that our backs would thrive with. A real scheme is a strategic system of attack, using misdirection and angles to create holes from traps and pulls, counters, etc. I'm going to focus on Reggie, but I believe the same can be said for much of Pierre. Bush is bar-none the quickest back in the league. Yet rather than utilize his incredible skillset, we call it a weakness and force him into a slow-developing system and complain that he needs to learn patience or to "run through the tackles" - he doesn't need to run through the tackles, he needs to run through HOLES which our system has rarely given him! (as an exception, look to the Dec. 7 Atlanta game last year, where we did use quick openers for some reason, and Bush had 80 yds on 10 carries while Pierre broke 100 yds.)
(2) Morale and attitude of the O-Line and RB's. As a former college quarterback myself, I think Payton coaches like a quarterback and not like a lineman. Linemen are built with an aggressive need to drive and hit and attack at strategic angles for leverage instead of simply push forward for a few short yards or back up to passively/defensively passblock. Payton's pattycake-pushing deflates a line's spirit. Last year we wasted the incredible talent of 3 all-pro caliber RB's. Did anyone else notice the anger with which Bush played whenever he was able to do something - he's got to be unbelievably frustrated. If I were Reggie and Payton didn't adjust his run scheme to fit my skills this year, I would leave to a team which used the right scheme to make me the 2,000 yard rusher I have the potential to be.
(3) Finally, it hurts the passing game and the defense. That's right, the passing game. When our running game is so undeveloped, we have to rely on the pass at all times, and defenses know it. Brees is always having to play as if from behind. He is a master at it, of course, but it means our offense relies on it too much and if our pass gets stopped we lose, which even for an all-pro QB should happen 35-40% of the time. It also means that our defense spends more time on the field than they should. If we could march down the field with a powerful run scheme, defenses wouldn't know what to do - I think their knees would simply turn to jelly and fold.
New Orleans, LA
p.s. I've tried to ask this question in various forms three times last summer to the TP mailbag, and have never received a response. I had let it rest, but after tonight's game am so frustrated again that I have to give it a shot where people will listen - CSC, baby, my favorite discovery of the summer - hoping that there's some way it can enter the dialogue.