There wasn’t a lot of good from the defense against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, as the team gave up 37 points to drop their second straight game. There was some good, however, and it was from the rushing defense continuing the 100-yard game streak. 46 straight games now without allowing a 100-yard rusher, as Green Bay’s lead rusher Aaron Jones was held to just 69 yards on 16 carries.
As a whole, the Packers struggled to run the ball, as a team only picking up 85 total yards on their 25 carries for 3.9 yards per carries (both yards and ypc were their lowest totals in a regular season game this season), and their run performance continued a theme with the Saints run defense that’s been apparent all season so far. Teams trying to run inside on the Saints get stuffed, teams running the outside against the Saints thrive.
Saints Run Defense by Direction
As we can see from the table, teams are at their best against the Saints when running off the tackles, and they’re having little success running right at the Saints defensive tackles, mainly evidenced by the roughly 1.5 yards per carry when trying to run either side of the center. This is the type of running that the Packers normally excel at, yet this past weekend they ran just five times off the center for a total of 12 yards. Out of their 98 rushing yards, 66 of them came running outside of the tackles. That being said, their longest outside run was on a play that was intended to go up the middle and Jones had to break outside to make anything of it.
Here we can see Jones trying to run to the middle right, just off the center but Shy Tuttle (#99) is able to stand up the right guard and force Jones to bounce to the outside. By this time Margus Hunt (#95) had already dove inside to stop the run, so Jones was able to get to the edge. This was a good play by Jones and a bit of misfortune for the Saints on this one, but emphasized the Saints strengths in defending the run game.
Plays like this are how the Saints are going to succeed in defending runs to the outside. The defensive line is succeeding in filling their run gaps and forcing Jones to go all the way outside, where he’s met by Demario Davis just two yards past the line of scrimmage.
This was arguably the biggest defensive play the Saints made on Sunday. A crucial 4th-and-1 in a tie game in the 4th quarter with the Packers near midfield. The Packers go with a duo run up the middle, their most successful type of run this season. The Saints’ interior DL stuffs it, and Jones is forced to bounce off the left guard where he’s met by a waiting Malcolm Jenkins. The Saints get the ball back in a tie game and everyone lives happily ever after and Taysom Hill totally doesn’t fumble two plays later.