Like my emotional issues, the New Orleans Saints offense is multi-layered and a lot to unpack.
They have a great passing game with Drew Brees, a solid, two-back running game with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara and an X-factor in former BYU product Taysom Hill. While they struggled in the first two weeks of the season, the Saints offense is as good as ever and is primed to take advantage of the Los Angeles Rams defense.
Brees can throw, the offense can take advantage
The Saints are on third-and-two. They have two running backs capable of getting those two yards. Yet the Saints go aggressive in the first quarter with a 20-yard shot.
Drew Brees can put the ball where it needs to be and leads the league in completion percentage. That’s not to say he can’t make mistakes, either. During the Vikings game, Brees forced a throw midway through getting smacked by an unblocked edge-rusher. The throw went right into the hands of Harrison Smith.
This play is similar to what the Rams ran against the Green Bay Packers last week. It’s a simple in route across the middle, but the offense takes advantage of the large amount of space in the second level.
The pockets of space the Vikings gave the Saints on this play and others is what the Rams defense is sometimes guilty of doing. The linebackers have questionable zone-coverage awareness and often let plays like this through.
And it doesn’t always have to come from routes across the middle, either. The Saints have Kamara make a cut up the middle for a 17-yard gain. The linebacker gives space and gets burned on the run after the catch.
This is a third-and-12, so it’s understandable why the Saints can find some space. However, the Ravens allowed two receivers to get open near the first down marker. Benjamin Watson cuts towards the sideline while another receiver gets open across the middle (the receiver furthers from the line of scrimmage).
Kamara and Ingram can do it all
The pair have proven they can do whatever is asked of them, whether it be running the ball on short-yardage situations or getting involved in the passing game.
New Orleans have played stout run-defenses the last three weeks with two of them (Washington Redskins, Vikings) being among the Top-10 in the league.
While the running-game is slow at the start of the game with one and two yard gains (and sometimes losing yards) Ingram and Kamara are capable of grinding out chunks when needed.
This is on fourth-and-two. Saints try to show they’re passing, yet run Ingram up the middle. He breaks through the bodies of two defensive linemen. Ingram gains five yards.
The Rams have the No. 16 run-defense in the league. Since Oct. 7, the defense has allowed at least 135 rushing yards or more every game.
In the last two games, the Saints have been relatively unsuccessful rushing the ball outside of the guards. With Cory Littleton and new-Ram Dante Fowler, the Rams defense can keep the Saints unsuccessful in those areas.
Taysom Hill and the RPO
The Saints will use third-string quarterback Taysom Hill just about everywhere. He’s played quarterback, he’s been used as an extra blocker and lined up at receiver.
The Saints mix in quite a few RPO’s with Hill. When he’s on the field, the Rams defense needs to be alert because he or Kamara (normally the running back lined up when he’s on the field) will be picking up a big chunk of yards.
When the Saints played the Redskins, they were still working on this aspect of their offense and when they play the Rams, it still not might be at its strongest potential. That’s a scary thought.
Against the Redskins, it became apparent the RPO’s with Hill needed some work. New Orleans had third-and-short against the Redskins and instead of handing the ball to Kamara, Hill kept the ball for the first down. If Kamara kept the ball, it’s a 50+ yard touchdown.