Trying to identify flaws on the New Orleans Saints right now is like trying to find hay in a haystack. It's not that difficult. The problems are endless: pass rushing, pass coverage, run defense, pass protection, run blocking, dropped balls. You name it! The Bless You Boys seem to be struggling in all facets of the game. The only thing that seems to be working with any degree of success are screen passes from Drew Brees to Pierre Thomas.
One position group where the drop off seems to be the most significant is along the offensive line. Once considered the league's best, it is now on a steep decline. The pass protection has especially been awful as Brees has been on the run like a marked fugitive. While defenders are blowing pass the line of scrimmage to converge on Brees before he even has time to set up, the offensive line seems to be breaking out of their stance slower than an old man trying to rise out of his rocking chair. This is especially true on pass rushes coming from the outer edges as tackes Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief just seemed to be getting overwhelmed.
So, what is the main cause of the offensive line's poor performance? The loss of All Pro Guard Carl Nicks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during free agency was definitely a blow. However, with the acquisition of Ben Grubbs from the Baltimore Ravens as his replacement, the loss in production was expected to be minimal. Is Grubbs really that much of a drop off from Nicks? From a fan's perspective it is hard to determine if replacing Nicks with Grubbs is the primary cause for the decline in performance, unless you have video footage of Grubbs blocking on each play, since it is so hard for fans to actually see what is going on in the trenches.
Is offensive line play also suffering as a result of position coach Aaron Kromer being stretched too thin due to his elevation as interim coach until first selection interim coach Joe Vitt returns from his six game suspension? I would venture to say yes. While Kromer may still get to spend time with the offensive line during practice, not having him available to get on them and help make blocking adjustments when the defense is on the field has to hurt.
So what do you think is the main reason for the offensive line's bad play so far this season? The loss of Carl Nicks, position coach Aaron Kromer being stretched too thin, or is it just another example of subpar team performance due to the absence of Sean Payton?