The defense went full “bend-don’t-break” in this game, but were able to step up when needed. The defensive line created pressure all game and P.J. Williams made just enough plays to be able to hold a dynamic offense that has two top receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, to only 20 points.
Davenport and Rankins
The defensive line was able to take advantage of the injury riddled offensive line of the Vikings throughout this game. Cameron Jordan and the rest of the line were able to pressure and hit Kirk Cousins multiple times. Davenport and Sheldon Rankins cleaned up with two sacks each. Rankins would face some double teams after his first sack, and that would open up the edges for Marcus Davenport to get pressure on Cousins. His development has been very encouraging and continues to make the trade up in the draft for him look like a smart move for the Saints.
I’m not sure how to put Williams’s day into words. He gave up two touchdowns along with many other passes, but also made a game changing pick-six. He was also in on the tackle that forced the fumble by Adam Thielen and started to turn the tide for the Saints.
On the play that Williams got his interception, he and Lattimore will line up to the left side in man coverage and will use a “banjo” technique. This is a technique that can help prevent pick plays and wide receivers getting a free release. Here, Williams will match up in man coverage with which ever receiver releases inside first (Diggs) and Lattimore will take the receiver who goes vertical (Treadwell). On the other side, Vonn Bell and Eli Apple will bracket Adam Thielen at the snap.
The pressure will force Cousins to scramble outside the pocket but he sees Diggs has a step of separation on Williams and will throw to where Diggs should be. Diggs stops running his route and Williams has an easy catch and run for the touchdown.
His interception doesn’t make up for all the passes he gave up, but it’s positive to see this defense forcing turnovers. Hopefully Patrick Robinson will be able to come back from injured reserve for the playoffs, but in the meantime Williams will face Cooper Kupp, Calvin Ridley, and JuJu Smith-Schuster before the season is over.
This game was a good test for the best tackle combo in the nation—Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk—who were able to keep two of the best defensive ends in the NFL in check. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen were unable to sack Drew Brees all game, and kept the pressures he would feel to a minimum. The offensive line will face another tough test next week, when Ndamukong Suh and the reigning defensive player of the year Aaron Donald come to town.