Much like last week, the New Orleans Saints dealt with similar issues on offense in this matchup versus the Carolina Panthers but also showed the same resilience defensively, essentially winning these last two games for the team.
Offensively, the Saints continued to have some problems up front particularly in pass protection this week. The running game looked much better this game. The team still struggled to handle designed stunts and some outside pressures forced by the Panthers, which turned into four sacks allowed on the day and a handful of disruptions.
On this play below, you see Carolina run a stunt by their inside linebacker Frank Luvu. Luvu runs up to the line of scrimmage to simulate an inside pressure and then loops back around the edge unblocked to get the sack on Derek Carr. Here, Trevor Penning doesn’t check for backside pressure after he blocks the defensive end inside allowing Luvu a free shot. This isn’t an easy stunt to block but there needs to be some communication on the offensive line, especially for young tackle Trevor Penning who’s now given up a handful of sacks in just two games.
This snap was just an overall bad rep for most of the offensive line.
Starting on the left side, Trevor Penning catches a straight bull rush from veteran Justin Houston and isn’t able to anchor down. James Hurst overextends just a bit and gets an inside swim move from Yetur Gross-Matos. Ryan Ramczyk tries to hold his own against Brian Burns but starts to slide back into Carr closing in on a pressure.
There simply cannot be this much pressure on the quarterback while rushing four, especially from multiple spots on the line. Just can’t have it.
However, the team did figure out ways to be effective in the run game, especially when Jamaal Williams went down with an injury early in the game. The team leaned on everything-back Taysom Hill to fill that void.
Here you see the Saints utilize zone read to create space on the edge. Great job by Foster Moreau getting in front of two guys to allow Hill to get on the perimeter for a positive gain.
This play is just great design all around.
Here, the Saints come out in a four-receiver set to widen the defense and take players out of the box, opening up the middle of the field for fullback Adam Prentice to lead the way for Taysom Hill.
Hits exactly the same here once again. Extremely effective.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Saints did their thing in all phases of the game but for this week I want to highlight someone who has been incredibly crucial in these past two games and that’s defensive end Carl Granderson. A pleasant surprise to many even though he’s been a solid player for the team, but he looks to have really taken control of that starting role opposite Cam Jordan. This week, he had a huge game.
Granderson’s been equally effective against the run as he has been the pass so far and you can see this here. Granderson sees the left tackle take a wide path to set up the outside zone run but he recognizes it quick to slice inside of the block and create a huge loss in the backfield.
Against the pass, Granderson forced a handful of pressures this week keeping him towards the top of the league through two weeks.
Here he takes an inside rush on tackle Ikem Ekwonu forcing quarterback Bryce Young to scramble into an incompletion.
He also made the big play when his team needed it.
Here, Granderson loops around the edge to chase down Bryce Young forcing a fumble in the red zone which gave the Saints the ball back.
That could’ve very well been the difference of the three point swing in this game.
We could talk all day about how great and explosive the wide receivers look at the moment but it’s these aspects of the game that are going to define this Saints team. The offensive line, the running game and the defensive line. We know this team has the talent to air it out all day long and it may just take a little time for everyone to get comfortable. But this week, the team showed some good improvement in some areas but should still be looking to progress in a couple others. Another opportunity to do just that in Green Bay in an attempt to go to 3-0 on the year.