Another week, another Saints victory. This win may not have been as impressive as the previous two, but the defense really stepped up and limited the high flying Falcons offense to only 17 points on their way to a tenth straight victory.
Bushrod on the edge
Veteran offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod got the start in place of the injured Terron Armstead and would have his hands full going against Takkarist McKinley and Bruce Irvin on the left side of the line. His day started off rough, giving up multiple pressures with one leading to a Brees sack by Terrell McClain, but the staff gave him some help with tight ends and running backs chipping the defensive ends. He was able to settle in some during the second half and provide better protection, but getting Armstead back soon will be paramount. The Saints will go against some talented front-sevens in he next few weeks with Dallas and Carolina coming up.
The linebacker group is turning into one of the strongest units on this team. A.J. Klein was able to get consistent penetration on the Falcons offensive line and blew up a couple of plays in the backfield. He also nabbed his second career interception on a pass tipped by Tyeler Davison. Meanwhile, Alex Anzalone is really stepping up and making plays all over the field. He sent Julio Jones for a helicopter ride and forced a fumble to kill a possible scoring drive by the Falcons right before halftime. This is on top of what Demario Davis has been doing all season and is clearly the best defensive offseason addition the Saints have had in recent memory.
The Undrafted Paradise
Drew Brees threw four touchdown passes, all to players who did not hear their name called on draft day. Tommylee Lewis and Austin Carr both caught their second career touchdown receptions, while Dan Arnold and Keith Kirkwood were able to haul in their first touchdowns in the NFL. Games like this only bolster Drew Brees’s MVP chances as the usual suspects of pro bowlers Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara weren’t relied upon as often. Instead he was able to get the job done with guys who have less than double digit game experience.
Carr’s touchdown came as a result of the hard bite by Atlanta’s cornerback on a play action fake. Carr lines up tight to the right side of the line. Brees will fake the hand-off then roll-out to his right as Carr stays in to block and help sell the play action. This draws the cornerback in to play the run, and Carr will slip out and run a corner route past the defender for the easy touchdown.
Dan Arnold's touchdown would be a bit more difficult, as the safety was in decent position to defend the pass. Arnold did a good job at fighting off the jam from the safety at the line of scrimmage to get a step ahead of him on his go route. Brees also looked off the safety (#27) in the middle of the field and got him out of position. Without any help over the top, Arnold is able to haul in the perfectly placed pass from Brees.