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Keys to Success: Saints must dodge Rams explosive plays to have a chance

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If the Saints can’t clean up their communication issues, the Rams downfield attack will cause major trouble for an injured defense.

NFL: Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, after having it mentioned by Charley Casserly, the Saints put on tape that they don’t play the deep ball well. Saints gave up plays of (32, 36, and 40) through the air versus the Redskins.

The Los Angeles Rams are ranked 4th in the league with 40 plays of 20+ yards and T-2nd in the league with 9 plays of 40+ yards.

Sean Payton, while thrilled with the victory, was also quick to dampen the enthusiasm following the win.

There’s a lot of things we’ve got to get cleaned up. There’s no victory tomorrow. We will be in tomorrow and you guys will be able to get your interviews on time. Every one of them. That’s just how it is going to be.”

He also went on to say:

I think the time of possession favored Washington. Credit them. I thought they did a really good job on run and play action. They had good balance. They caught us in some man coverages and had a good plan. It was probably a combination of a lot of those things.”

I think he knew Sean McVay and this Rams team present similar problems as last week’s game, but with a generational running back toting the ball for them. McVay has an understanding of play-calling that puts him up there with the Gruden’s and Payton’s as it pertains to feel.

Adding to that Jared Goff is also a legitimate QB at the LOS. He checks from run to pass, changes routes, and protection schemes based on what he sees and gets his team into positions to be successful.

However, that’s also where his weakness lies. He simply hasn’t played enough football to have answers for everything, so forcing him to pass the ball to win is what defenses want.

To protect themselves from the downfield shots and get a victory, the Saints will need to clean up their communication issues in the secondary and focus on these three Keys to Success.

Opening Drive

NFL: Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Coming out the gate hot can have a number of positive effects on getting this win. I think entering this game if you can get the opening kickoff and go down for a score, you can eliminate or slow some things early. People asked where the Saints run game was last week, and truth was going down early took it out of the plans, and they weren’t able to go back to it till they got closer. Going up 7-0 on the first drive of the game can put pressure on the Rams from the onset making the second key a lot easier.

Red Octagon Todd Gurley

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

“We stopped the run. At the end of the day I feel like they are based off the bootleg and the run,” said Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph. “If you stop the run, then you stop the bootleg. You pretty much have them bottled up.

While the Saints could get away with giving up 150 yards on the ground to the Redskins last week and still get a victory, that will not be the case against the Rams. They must stop Todd Gurley and keep him from getting to the 2nd and 3rd levels of the defense where his speed, and our lack of, will allow him to erase angles. Allowing the running game to remain in play will also keep the crowd in it which brings its own issues that wouldn’t be the case in a home game.

Don’t allow Aaron Donald to wreck the game

NFL: International Series-Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The quickest way to rattle Drew Brees and get the Saints offense out of rhythm is to get pressure in his face. I am expecting an aggressive game plan from the Saints similar to what Washington did last week that forces the Rams to give up on the run game by scoring quickly. In other words, we are going to need a good day from Brees, and you can’t have Donald compromising that with quick interior pressure.

Player to Watch vs. Rams - Willie Snead, WR

NFL: Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I’m putting Snead here because after getting only his 2nd catch of the season and also seeing Fleener take a break from endorsing the back of milk cartons - I feel as though this week is his week. It also doesn’t hurt that the Rams NB situation isn’t particularly good with Nickell Robey-Coleman suffering an injury last week and possibly not able to play this game. In fact after last weeks injuries it left the Rams with only 2 DBs causing them to be extra cautious. If there’s an area to attack on this defense, it’s their 3rd CB, and I’d like to think #83 is better than who they’d have covering him.

Random Thought I: We don’t need to sign a DE until Trey Hendrickson & Hau’oli Kikaha prove the cannot fulfill their job duties. I also think the Rams being an 11 personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WR) team makes the decision to go with those two a little easier.

Random Thought II: Holding Marshon Lattimore out this week makes sense to me. It’s an ankle, which can be aggravated easily, and he’s important to our future success. They don’t have a Go To receiver, and stopping Gurley basically halts their offense.

When we played the Bears, Sean Payton talked about how those early points were significant in the team’s victory as it put Chicago behind the 8 ball. I feel this is a game we must come out attacking so that we can take Gurley and the crowd out of the game early and make Goff win it with his arm. The Redskins had a similar plan vs. us last week, but Drew can actually win the game in the end, and I don’t think Goff is that guy just yet. Join Rev and myself on the Who Dat Confessional right after the game and we’ll get you caught up on the Saints 9th straight victory. Happy Who Dat Thanksgiving!

My Prediction: The game ends with a Drew Brees kneel to the tune of 28-17.