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Film Study: Saints secondary dominant vs Tom-pa Bay

The secondary shined in the Saints’ defining win of 2020

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A New Orleans Saints secondary that has routinely given up 30+ yard passes. A resurgent Tom Brady out to prove the Week One loss to the Saints was a fluke. A fresh Antonio Brown that’s trying to play well enough that the league forgets he’s a psychotic maniac. This had all the ingredients for Sunday night to turn into a night to forget for the Saints.

Instead, it turned into one of the most dominant wins of the Brees-Payton era. Largely in part due to the defense shutting Tom Brady down.

Tom Brady finished Sunday’s contest 22/38, 209 yards, 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Overall, he had a 40.4 passer rating. Lower than his age. Brady finished with a PFF passing grade of 57.7, good for 24th out of 29 qualified quarterbacks on Sunday (Chase Daniel and Matthew Stafford both qualified for Detroit). This was, by far, Tom Brady’s worst showing since joining head coach Bruce Arians in Tampa for the 2020 season.

So, what the hell happened?

The same defense that normally gets annihilated on deep balls sured themselves up mightily. Brady attempted five passes of 20+ yards on Sunday night and completed zero of them, with one of them being intercepted by Marcus Williams. So, how was a team that was so dreadful in giving up deep passes manage to get it all together in time to face one of the best quarterbacks of all time? Well, let’s look at all five of those deep passes.

Q1: 12:55, 2nd and 10. Brady incomplete deep right to Chris Godwin

Hello Mr. Cameron Jordan, good to see you again.

On the Bucs’ second play of the game, the Saints run a single-high safety look and man up everywhere else. This ends up with Chauncey C.J. Ceedy Duce-Gardner Johnson in man coverage against Chris Godwin. CCJCDGJ does a good job keeping up with Godwin and gets in front of him when the pass is thrown, but the pass is already wayward thanks to Cam Jordan getting pressure on Brady and hitting him right when the pass is thrown. It’s already a good play from the secondary, made perfect with the pressure from Cam.

Q1: 3:21, 2nd and 8. Brady incomplete deep middle to Antonio Brown.

Enter Antonio Brown.

The…we’ll say enigmatic, Antonio Brown played his first game in Bucs colors on Sunday, and his first target saw Brady go deep to him with Janoris Jenkins in single coverage on him. The Saints went with a Cover 2 Man look on this play, something they run more than any other team in the NFL. With Marcus Williams taking responsibility of Gronk running the out route jus tpast the first down marker, Jenkins is left to cover Brown on his own. Brown’s got the inside step on Jenkins, but with Brady underthrowing this pass, Jenkins is able to make up the ground and force AB to break up the pass.

Q2: 14:36, 3rd and 3. Brady incomplete deep left to Scotty Miller

Honestly, nothing much to see here aside from just a miscommunication between Brady and Scotty Miller. Jenkins looks to have good coverage on Miller, but the main reason for incompletion is the miscommunication.

Q2: 5:04, 4th and 6. Brady incomplete deep middle Rob Gronkowski

Another Cover 2 Man look for the Saints, this time with Demario Davis matched up with Gronk on a crucial 4th down as the ~~Patriots~~ Buccaneers try to get back into the game. Gronk gets on the wrong side of Davis (Davis isn’t helped here by P.J. Williams biting to help Marshon Lattimore with Mike Evans, that being said it was 4th down so it’s understandable). Brady misses him. Brady puts a little more touch on this and it’s an easy touchdown and a blemish on a great night for the Saints secondary.

Q2: 1:08, 1st and 10. Brady intercepted deep right by Marcus Williams

The piece de resistance of the night. The Bucs are down 31-0. There’s a minute left in the first half and Brady is trying to give his team some sign of life on what’s turning into one of the worst performances of his career. The Saints go to another two-high safety look and on another pass intended for Antonio Brown. This is partially an instance of Brown and Brady not being on the same page, because Brown tries to stutter step to shake Marshon Lattimore, which he does fairly successfully. Brady throws this ball right as Brown stutters, not anticipating it. The result is Marcus Williams, reading it the whole way, flying through the air to get the interception to seal a 31-0 lead going into the first half.

The other thing I wanted to take a look at is, in my opinion, the most hilarious thing that happens routinely during Saints games. The fact that no matter how poorly he happens to be playing, Marshon Lattimore turns into prime Darrelle Revis whenever he’s lined up against Mike Evans.

With Lattimore lined up across from him, Mike Evans was targeted just twice on Sunday, both on the same drive in the same scenario. With the game still 31-0 early in the second half, the Bucs had the ball at the goal line with a chance to start a massive, meme-inducing comeback. On first and goal, Brady tried a fade to Evans. Lattimore jams him at the line of scrimmage and Evans has no shot at it. Which leads to this play on 4th and goal.

Brady goes back to Evans for a fade on 4th and goal. Lattimore extends and gets an impressive pass defense to keep the shutout and, more importantly, extend his hilarious streak of shutting out Mike Evans entirely.

While the Saints were helped out with some good fortune from the Bucs offense, the defense stepped up and made impressive plays. That’s without even getting into the incredible jump that the pass rush has made since the return of Marcus Davenport, which can be summed up by one tweet from Pro Football Focus.

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