The game came down an extra point that miraculously sailed wide right, but the decisions by the coaching staff and the ability to limit the hits on Drew Brees proved to be enough to outlast the number one defense.
We have been calling Drew Brees the ageless wonder for years now, as he continues to defy the odds and Father Time to be a top quarterback each year. But he may not be the only person drinking from the fountain of youth on this team.
Tight end Ben Watson is in his fourteenth season at age of 37, yet still making plays when his number is called. On the season he now has 23 receptions for 230 yards and one touchdown. Against the Ravens—his former team— Watson hauled in 6 catches, including Drew Brees’s 500th career touchdown. Let’s take a look at some plays from this past week.
Watson’s second reception came in the 2nd quarter on a third and twelve. The Saints will roll out in shotgun formation with 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end), with Watson lined up tight to the field side (bottom of screen). The Saints will call a “sail concept” to the right side of the field.
This passing concept aims to over load one side of the defense and give the quarterback three reads (short, intermediate, deep) to choose from. Tre’Quan Smith, who is the outside receiver to the field side will run a deep go route, Watson will run the intermediate out route, and Cam Meredith will run the short crossing route.
On the defensive side, the Ravens will call one of their exotic blitzes with a five man pressure coming from the offense’s right side. The line does a good job at picking this up and Kamara identifies the free rusher, even though he is unable to get a good block on him. Brees will navigate the pocket in order to buy enough time and is able to hit Watson as he is coming out of his break.
Watson’s touchdown reception came on a very similar play design that got Josh Hill his first touchdown of the year against Washington, but instead of having Taysom Hill as a receiver, Dan Arnold is in at tight end. The offense comes out with heavy personnel (two running backs, three tight ends) which would indicate to the defense that it is going to be a run play. Instead, play action is used and causes the defenders run downhill to stop the run while Watson will run a corner route behind them where he is wide open.
The offensive line was able to keep Drew Brees clean for most of the game minus a few pressures. The only sack for the Ravens came from Terrell Suggs who was able to beat tight end Josh HIll off the edge.
The Saints will go with their 22 personnel (two running backs, two tight ends) and call an outside zone play-action bootleg. The offensive line will move laterally along the line of scrimmage to the left and Brees will fake the handoff to Ingram.
The Ravens will rush Suggs off the right edge and bring safety Tony Jefferson on a C-gap blitz. Hill will take an initial step to the left with the line before engaging Suggs. At this point, Hill is unable to get back into position to block Suggs who is already running the arc and uses a rip move to blow by the tight end and finish with a sack.
Fourth Down Fumble
When playing a defense that gives up so little points, you have to make each possession count and maximize the points you score, especially in the redzone. Sean Payton stayed aggressive throughout the game, and nearly capped off the 20 play opening drive with a touchdown.
Taysom Hill’s athleticism gives Payton the chance to dial up some plays you wouldn’t normally see Brees running. The failed fourth down play call on the opening drive was a speed option zone run. The point of this play is to give the quarterback a read on a defender, typically a defensive end or edge player.
New Orleans’ offensive line will allow this defender to go unblocked and the quarterback will attack their inside hip, allowing the running back to get to the edge. The quarterback will then read who the unblocked defender attacks and either keep it or pitch it to he running back.
On this play the linebacker Patrick Onwuasor is the read defender. The offensive line is able to get enough movement, but Hill will run too wide and doesn’t attack the linebacker’s inside hip. The linebacker is now able to widen his angle and is in Kamara’s face by the time the ball is pitched to him.
Due to the linebacker committing to to Kamara and flipping his hips towards the sideline and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk blocking off the linebacker at the second level Hill had a running lane into the endzone. Hill instead will pitch the ball to Kamara, who is unable to haul in the pitch and the fourth down conversion fails.
The Saints were able to follow their gameplan and wear down the Ravens defense throughout the game. The level of execution was encouraging for the most part, and with another tough defense coming up we could see more of the same.