Okay Who Dat Nation, we need to get something straight about the Jacksonville game. Many Saints fans are blaming Steve Spagnuolo's defensive scheme for the terrible performance on Saturday, but I would like to come to the coach's defense.
Not literally because I would look terrible in pads. Plus, I don't think you guys would appreciate my out of shape behind eating a hot dog in the huddle.
We've seen poor tackling before as a fanbase, but several folks have tried to pin this on the defensive scheme and not the players on the field. Join me after the jump for a brief analysis of what I saw on Saturday.
The first thing I noticed against Jacksonville was a lot of confusion. Several players seemed to be lost during the Jaguars first offensive series. They were out of position and still adjusting when the ball was snapped. I'm going to assume Saints players are still learning and need to study their playbook more.
For example, Patrick Robinson had just come back from his shoulder injury and seemed to be behind the learning curve to me. Maybe he's still a little stiff but he did not seem to understand who he was supposed to cover.
Additionally, I don't think anyone foresaw the second coming of Gabbert. When the Saints faced him last season, he had terrible pocket presence and a complete lack of confidence in his receivers. This year he was the complete opposite. He stood in the pocket and delivered some strikes. Not to mention he's got Justin Blackmon as a receiver this year.
Once the defense started to settle down and get into position before the snap, the obvious problem was tackling. I know we can always say the defensive coordinator should teach these guys to tackle; however, I personally believe players at the NFL level should come into a game with that knowledge. I mean, if a DC has to spend an entire practice session teaching his guys to wrap up their opponent then he can't install any new schemes.
Spags' overall scheme is quite complicated from what I've seen and coverage has a lot to do with how the receivers release off the line. I can think of two plays where the coverages were blown. The one that stands out to me turned into the Jaguars first TD.
How in the world can there be two defensive players on top of a receiver and neither one went for the stop? That's simple coverage rules in any defense. One can make a play on the ball, but the other has to go for the tackle. The Saints' players did the exact opposite. Both of them went for the ball which made it easy for Blackmon to turn and jog into the endzone.
Something else I noticed was that Saints defenders were in position to make stops behind the line of scrimmage, but failed to tackle properly. I'm sure many of you were probably yelling at the TV just as fervently as I was and with good reason. This is the NFL! The players we cheer for should understand the fundamentals of the game!
I refuse to believe Jacksonville's offense dominated the Saints defense. Instead I'll chalk this week up to a contagious case of brain farts which started with the officiating crew.
If a defender fails to wrap up the runningback, receiver, tight end or whoever has the ball, breaking a tackle becomes easy. We can't have Curtis Lofton and 10 other guys, we need Lofton and 10 NFL defenders which means they better get in gear and figure out how to properly form tackle before the regular season. I would guess there were at least five plays that could have gone for a loss but the Saints players tried to knock the ball carrier down without wrapping them up.
Tackling without wrapping up is like having unprotected sex...you're taking a chance on getting burned.
As for the people who think Spags' defensive scheme is to blame, he's not on the field with them. In the first three preseason games Saints defenders have been in position to make a solid play on the ball. Against Jacksonville, they were in the same position but failed to do their job.
Spags is not to blame. The Saints defense couldn't tackle under Gregg Williams and they are showing the same trend under Spags. I think they just need to invest in some "Tackling Fuel," available in stores with the purchase of any Adam Sandler movie.