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Keys To Success: Zimmer putting Respek on Brees, Payton names a bonus for Saints in Playoff Rematch

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I’ll tell you why Mike Zimmers paralysis by analysis could be an unknown advantage that works in the Saints favor on Sunday.

A big proponent of game-planning during the week is trying to figure out the type of game your opponent expects to play.

Mike Zimmer has gushed about Sean Payton!

Well, they’re always good. I think he’s always been one of the top in the league in first down offense. First downs, this year he’s second. They’ve always been explosive, take their shots, do a good job in the screen game, and he’s got a Hall of Fame quarterback. He’s had that for a while.

Mike Zimmer has gushed about Drew Brees!

I don’t know. Drew Brees has played good for a long time. He’s won a Super Bowl, he’s been the MVP, he’s thrown for millions of yards. I think all those things kind of sum up what he does.

Mike Zimmer is also looking for the crowd to aid them in this game

I really think being able to play at U.S. Bank Stadium with our fans and the crowd noise and [Drew] Brees trying to change the protections and the audibles he makes at the line of scrimmage. I think that will play well into our hands.

Just going off these tidbits, I think it would be easy to presume that Zimmer is preparing his troops for a pass oriented attack.

So...what about the 5th ranked rushing attack?

Anyone that has watched the Saints intimately this year KNOWS that the passing offense has been more of a compliment to the run game and defense than in previous years under Sean.

Don’t get me wrong we are still passing the ball 55% of the time which would technically classify us as a pass-first team but Drew finished with his fewest number of passing attempts since 09.

This team has been driven by Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and the run blocking of the O-line all season. It’s why they averaged 4.7 ypc (T-1st) and 2,070 yards (5th) on the ground.

Perhaps someone can explain why Zimmer sounds so non-chalant about Kamara?

They use him a little bit more, spread him out of the backfield a little bit more. They use him as a receiver some, he catches the ball some on screens. But he’s in the backfield as well. He played against us the first game, but I guess they’re using his abilities a little bit more now.

Or why no one in the media asked about Mark Ingram who is coming off his 2nd consecutive 1000-yard season? Even when the players talk about the RBs they talk about them as an extension of the passing game.

“It’s just being locked in and reading your keys, because the running back is going to tell you where the play is going a lot of the time,” Barr said. “I think we we’re focused on that, you can kind of have an idea if he’s getting out, if he’s blocking, if he’s check-release and running a screen, all that type of stuff.”

Neither coach, players, or media are mentioning the run game and that’s absurd.

It’s absurd because just a week earlier the Panthers decided that they had to sell out to stop the run to give themselves a chance.

It took them two games to figure out that keying on the passing game wasn’t it. The kicker is it’s legit because after beating them by double digits the previous two times, we were only able to escape with a single digit win.

Yet, here I am writing an article and every quote I have pays homage to the Saints passing game.

I’ve also seen the articles noting how good Zimmer is coming off a bye and I think they are irrelevant. It’s not a typical regular season bye where you know the opponent and can prepare for an extra week. It’s a playoff bye thus requiring them to prepare for multiple teams further complicating things.

We spent a lot of time on the three different teams of possibilities that we might play, a little bit on the self-scout stuff, but it was mostly getting back to fundamentals with the team, doing some of those things, and then we would study the three different teams, so it took a lot of time.

The above makes me think about the Eric Mangini quote I used earlier in the year where he mentions the challenge to facing the Saints is the volume of material you have to prepare for.

Opinion: If you spend time preparing heavily for passing concepts your run defense will suffer.

Identity has been a keyword for the Saints this week but based off what I’m seeing the superior coaching staff will make the difference in this one as I think it’s one of the built in advantages the Saints have (and they need them) along with the ones below!

  1. Vikings play in NFC North with Matthew Stafford/Aaron Rodgers, they are built to stop the pass, not the run per se. They don’t have a lot of sand in the pants on their D-line and Saints O-line has been moving people in Zone/Man blocking all year.
  2. Vikings coach seems to not be putting Respek on the Saints run game
  3. Saints are playing the Vikings for a second time acting as a De Facto Division Game
  4. Saints have the better QB
  5. Saints have the better coaching staff

Yes, the Vikings have the better team and yes this will be a hard game, but I smell a passive Zimmer right now. I smell a coach who fears a passing game that isn’t even the main thing he should fear. The only way a superior team loses to an inferior team is when the coaching is a bit off. Call me a little looney, but I think he is going to cost them this game because they won’t be prepared for what they’ll face and he’ll be playing not to lose, instead of playing to win. Tons of pressure on the Vikings and their fan base this weekend.

So with all of that being said, I’ve clearly eschewed my typical keys format, because I think this game may be mentally won before the match even starts. The Vikings have their compass pointed North but there is a possibility that compass may be broken and they not even know it. All New Orleans has to do is come in with a plan to run the ball and I’m pretty certain everything else will fall into place. Please drop your comments below and Join Rev and myself on Who Dat Confessional tonight as we get you primed and ready for what will be an intense game. Who Dat-Two Dat!!!