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Film Study: How the Saints picked off the Panthers five times

FIVE TIME! FIVE TIME! FIVE TIME! FIVE TIME! FIVE TIME interception getters in the 2020 regular season finale

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints entered Sunday’s contest with their NFC South-rival Carolina Panthers needing to win and needing other results to fall their way if they wanted their shot at the NFC’s one and only first round bye in the 2020 playoffs. While said other results didn’t quite go as they had hoped, the Saints did their part with a resounding 33-7 victory over the Panthers, who fell to 5-11 with the loss as the Saints clinched the #2 seed and a clean sweep over all division foes, finishing 6-0 against NFC South opponents.

Their victory on Sunday was emphasized not only by a classic Drew Brees performance (22/32, 201 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT), but by the Saints defense making former Saints man Teddy Bridgewater’s day a living nightmare, intercepting him twice before Teddy Two Gloves was replaced by backup P.J. Walker, who outdid Teddy in that he threw not just two, but three interceptions! So this piece will go over just what the Saints did on those five interceptions to cause mayhem at Bank of America stadium.

The Saints play a lot of Cover 2-Man looks, which basically means that they play with two high safeties and man coverage across the board. This is exactly the look that the Saints defense starts out in at the snap, however when the ball is snapped we can see P.J. Williams drop into the flat on the right side (offense’s perspective) and Malcolm Jenkins rotate into the middle of the field while Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins drop back into more of a Cover 3 look. Bridgewater’s looking the entire way at D.J. Moore, who lined up on the far right at the start of the play, and when Moore cuts inside for his post route, Jenkins has it read and is in the perfect position to make the interception.

Raise your hand if you had heard of Grant Haley before this game and then put it down because you’re a liar. Haley is trailing Panthers tight end Ian Thomas on this corner route and gets the benefit of a disasterous underthrow from Teddy Bridgewater, and Haley get his first career interception.

Marshon Lattimore got this interception to put the exclamation point on his first shutout of the season, a game in which he allowed no receptions on any of his four targets. That being said, he benefits massively from Panthers backup and XFL deity P.J. Walker throwing this one behind Curtis Samuel, and Samuel then tipping it up right to his former Ohio State teammate. Lattimore bailed out by a bad throw, but he still makes a good play on this ball to give possession back to the Saints.

Watch P.J. Williams after he drops deep into his zone and locks eyes with P.J. Walker. Then watch how far Williams moves after Walker throws this ball. Nowhere near Robby Anderson, who I might add is well covered by Lattimore, and instead Williams has to move maybe two steps to intercept this pass. Bad throw from Walker, an P.J. Williams asserts himself as the alpha P.J. of the game. (to be fair to Walker, he gets ANNHILIATED by Marcus Davenport and is forced into an early throw).

Oh hey Ken Crawley’s back. Ken Crawley displaying excellent ball-tracking skills on this attempted deep ball from Walker, who tries to hit D.J. Moore one-on-one (thank god Ceedy Duce didn’t play in this game or I’d be writing about two P.J.’s, a D.J., and a C.J.). Moore can’t quite track this deep pass while Crawley can, and the end result is Crawley’s second career interception, and first since 2017.

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