Disclaimer: For those of you that don't particularly like soccer or don't know a thing about the sport, please bear with me for a few minutes.
Soccer and football are rarely compared and contrasted for both obvious and good reason. However some concepts, including the one that I'm about to present to you, can be translated to football.
Throughout my entire soccer-playing career (from ages 5 to 17) I was made aware of several 'rules of thumb' that any soccer player should know. Some are silly and seem plain out coincidental, but there are others that prove true time and time again. One that comes to mind the most is known as the "5-Minute Rule."
The "5-Minute Rule" is a theory that states about 50 percent of goals allowed come in the first and last five minutes of each half. Just for informational purposes, a soccer half is 45 minutes.
Why would a coach or soccer player be so worried about such a 'rule'? Well it's quite simple if you think about it. Typically a player's mind is wandering and lazy during these windows because he is either getting geared up for a stoppage time or still has to shake out the webs from sitting for an extended period. In other words, a coach doesn't want his team to get caught off guard from an explosive scoring opportunity during this deadly time of play.
The more I pondered on the Saints' losses to both the Falcons and Browns, the more I found this rule to be somewhat relevant to the Saints' situation. I took a look at the scoring reports and sure enough we had a topic to discuss. If you will, let's take a look at the scenarios.
|Scoring Situation||Points Allowed|
|0:20 Remaining||3 Points|
|2:57 Remaining||7 Points|
|0:04 Remaining||3 Points|
|1:38 In||3 Points|
|Scoring Situation||Points Allowed|
|3:25 Remaining||6 Points|
|0:06 Remaining||3 Points|
Before we dive into the deeper meaning of these statistics I will first tell you that in order to make the "5-Minute Rule" more applicable to football, I had to scale it down because of the differential in game time. A time of 3 minutes and 33 seconds in football is directly proportional to 5 minutes in soccer. Now to the point...
As you can see the Saints have allowed a total of 63 points (37 to the Falcons and 26 to the Browns) through two games, which is an average of 31.5 per game (31st in the NFL). This number is concerning in itself, but what is even more concerning is the Saints' lack of ability to cover an explosive play relatively close to both the beginning or end of a half.
Against the Falcons the Saints allowed 16 total points within the designated time window, which turned out to be about 43% of the final amount of points they surrendered. While they improved this number a little bit versus the Browns, the Saints still managed to allow roughly 35 percent (9 points) of the total score within the same window. In the end, the Saints have allowed 40 percent of their points in this dangerous interval, and had I not scaled the figure down to make it proportional, an extra touchdown would have been included and the grand total would be a whopping 51 percent.
This might turn out to be a bunch of early-season meaningless garbage that just happens to be a weird coincidence. But for the time being, it is apparent that the Saints give up way too many unnecessary points on defense from either being lazy or some other excuse that isn't named. If even a fraction of these points hadn't been yielded, we could be looking at a 2-0 start as opposed to 0-2.
This group better get it together quickly because they can't afford anymore losses at this point in the season and their next foe, the Minnesota Vikings, carries one of the most explosive players in the league in Cordarrelle Patterson, who will be looking to feast on a lackadaisical defense.