Hello, and greetings from Fieldgulls!
My name is Alejandro, and I write a prediction piece for the Seahawks every week. I generally gather evidence by reading up on a team (like on this site!), watching a few of their games (where I can find them), and relying heavily on stats. A source I generally don’t use is the other team’s fans.
It’s not that I don’t think fans can contribute meaningful analysis – far from it. I would love to hear fan opinions. The problem is just that I generally don’t have time to post on another blog with questions and try and work the answers into the opposition analysis. However, this coming week is different.
The Seahawks had their bye this week. That gives me a whole additional week to gather information on the Saints. So, here I am, asking YOU the fans about your team. I’ll try and pose interesting questions, but any answers you give me I’ll consider valuable. I’ll also likely post questions in the comments section when I feel so inclined.
If you feel so inclined, you’re also welcome to ask me questions about the Seahawks. I may be a bit coy, if only because I don’t want to intrude on the weekly "know your enemy" posts. I also don’t want to stifle any intermingling of the two fan-bases because if you’re anything like Seattle fans, you’re a good bunch of people, and good bunches of people are better off having fun together.
Anyway, I’m sure that’s introduction enough. On to the questions!
1.) Wow, Sean Payton sure is a good head coach. I’m not generally inclined to give offensive head coaches much credit for defensive improvements so I won’t now. On the other hand, the offense has noticeably improved from last year (not that the offense was bad or anything). What would be some of the differences between this year and last in terms of offensive play calling, scheme, or philosophy that could account for some of the improvement?
2.) I generally think of the following players as being most important the Saints’ offense: Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, and Pierre Thomas. Excluding the offensive line for a moment (my next question will be about them), who am I missing?
3.) I didn’t necessarily think that Jermon Bushrod was an all-pro, but I did think his departure was a clear negative for the Saints. However, despite his absence, NO ranks 7th in adjusted sack rate (per football outsiders). It’s not a perfect stat obviously, but where have the contributions come from to keep Brees so well protected?
4.) In the past, Seattle corners have struggled to cover quicker, agile, and precise route runners. Not counting Sproles – who wouldn’t be covered by the corners - does anyone else on the Saints’ offense fit that kind of description?
5.) I generally think of Colston as a faster version of Anquan Boldin. A physical player who doesn’t necessarily generate large amounts of separation but uses his larger body and physical nature to haul in passes. Is that accurate? Where am I wrong?
6.) What can you tell me about the rushing offense? It’s ranked 16th in DVOA – average – but it’s pretty remarkable how well the Saints seem to plug backs into the system and receive favorable returns. How does this team run the ball in a Brees centered offense? Any surprises or is average a good description for the rush offense?
7.) Last question about the offense. If you were a defensive coordinator, how would you try and impede the Saints’ offense?
8.) The Rob Ryan revival! After being a coordinator for the talent starved Raiders, Browns, and Cowboys, we’ve finally seen why Ryan is always talked about as a great coordinator. Without being too specific (unless you want to), what makes this defense so effective since Ryan took control?
9.) The most surprising thing about this defense (to me anyway), is the pass rush. It’s crazy good – like ranked 1st in adjusted sack rate good! Last year that ranking was 28th. The obvious contributors this year would be Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette. The obvious however, obviously leaves out some really good players. Where are the Saints generating pressure - corner blitzes, linebacker blitzes, just up front?
10.) What can you tell me about the linebackers? I remember Hawthorne was solid but unspectacular when he played for the Seahawks but I don’t know a whole lot about the others (save Lofton).
11.) The Saints have the 5th ranked pass defense in DVOA. A large chunk of credit can likely be given to the pass rush, which is excellent, but there must be a significant contribution from the secondary. How does the secondary play? Mostly press, off coverage, good mix? Who are the good players and who has played poorly this year?
12.) The only statistical weakness I can see is New Orleans’ rush defense which is ranked 29th. Why is that ranking so low? Does it matter with a Brees-led offense?
I think that’s it for now. Hopefully I prove myself to be an admirable ambassador to Fieldgulls.