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Film Review: Saints vs. Titans

Who showed out, who struggled and where can this team improve?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints gladly escaped what could’ve been a disappointing start to the season with a win over a physical Tennessee Titans team. For all of the negative plays that the team endured throughout the course of the game, there were many moments, by many players that will get you excited about where the Saints could be headed if they can work out the kinks.

In this film review, we’ll go through a few game altering plays in which the team either did or didn’t make. This will help us understand what things the team must focus on and capitalize on going forward.

Let’s start with the good.

The best thing about the Saints win over the Titans wasn’t hard to figure out. Their defense was unbelievably great. The one player that probably contributed to that the most was linebacker Demario Davis. He made play after play even against the most difficult running back to get on the ground in Derrick Henry. He played with a physical presence the entire game and didn’t let up one bit.

Right off the bat on the defense’s first possession Davis sets the tone with a big hit on the tight end to force a scramble for a minimal gain.

Davis makes another tone setting play here knocking 250 lb. Derrick Henry out of his shoes. These types of plays instill fear into opponents.

Aside from setting the tone, Davis made a handful of plays on the ball. Specifically on Derrick Henry.

Here he reads the run incredibly quick, laying a big hit on Henry to stop him for no gain.

This one is one of my favorites of the game.

Davis reads and accelerates quickly but is patient enough to pause to be able to react on Henry’s decision allowing him to make a great open field tackle on the big guy.

Davis’ consistency over his tenure with the Saints has just been a pleasure to watch and it doesn’t seem like he’s slowing down anytime soon.

Another star in this game on that same side of the ball was none other than cornerback Marshon Lattimore who completely shut down the Tennessee passing game almost by himself.

While I made sure to give him his flowers, I’m going to the offensive side of the ball for the next player. Chris Olave seemed to have a quiet but spectacular day on the state sheet, going over 100 yards receiving on the day like it was nothing. But the thing that intrigued me the most was how the team used him.

Olave lined up in the backfield multiple times and was very effective when thrown to at that spot.

Here’s an example.

Olave comes out the backfield on what looks like a choice route. He sets the defender up by using his own leverage against him. Defender presses outside, Olave breaks in.

Easy money.

Olave runs the same exact route on this play, once again widening the defender and completing a nice catch-and-run for a first down.

Love to see Pete Carmichael being creative enough to put Olave in advantageous situations especially when Alvin Kamara is out and can’t run these routes that he thrives off on.

With the good always comes the bad though. And in this game, it was BAD.

The first player that comes to mind is left tackle Trevor Penning. Penning couldn’t seem to find his footing at least in this game. He had a ton of trouble in pass protection mainly which was a large part of why this game was closer than maybe it should’ve been.

Here is actually an early running play where Penning allows the defensive end to get across his face and stop Jamaal Williams in his tracks. Something that should never happen from the back side.

The next two plays are very similar in that Penning does not stay in front of the defensive end or even try to force him down or outside, allowing sacks on both of the reps.

In Penning’s defense, the rest of the offensive line didn’t have a good game either.

Especially blocking the run...

The Saints averaged 2.6 yards per carry on the day which is unheard of and something that just can’t happen if this team wants to win games.

Here’s how they got there.

On this 1st & 10 run, the Saints run what looks like inside zone. What’s tough about this is Cesar Ruiz is headed in the right direction by blocking down, but Ruiz gets a swim move on to his right which is where Ryan Ramzyck is supposed to be headed. Instead Ramzyck moves up to the second level and Williams is stopped in the backfield for a gain of only 1.

On this, McCoy gets beat inside for the initial pressure and nor Foster Moreau or Juwan Johnson get to the second level to get hands on the linebacker or the defensive back who both make the stop on 3rd & 1.

Most of the mistakes are fundamentals on the offensive line which is a good thing because they can be fixed, but they must get fixed quickly if this team wants to have success early on in the season.

Carolina could offer the Saints a good test especially when it comes to their defense, which has some star power on it. Hopefully the Saints can fine tune the little details and continue to thrive on the positives next Monday night.