Just like my the dinosaur stars of one of my favorite animated movies growing up, We’re Back! (side note: We’re Back had some terrifying scenes in it for a child so exercise some caution.) I hope you enjoyed the Saints’ day off and somehow managed to make it without my daily blog. I know it must have been tough but I just want everyone to know that my off day was not wasted!
There were rumblings and rumors that perhaps we would hit the road and enjoy a nice whitewater rafting adventure - however Kristian Garic, Steve Geller, and myself decided to embark on a different adventure entirely; an adventure to the local Chinese buffet! That’s right, just like the red-blooded Americans we are, we chose obesity over activity, and I must say that as far as Chinese buffets go it wasn’t the best I have been to but it certainly wasn’t the worst.
In fact, the only questionable bit of food was the second egg roll I bit into. I am a firm believer that when eating at such establishments it is much wiser to not ask any questions. Just enjoy the fleeting moments of satisfaction you get from stuffing your face with defrosted chicken covered in some sort of sweet sauce before you find yourself curled up in the corner of your hotel room crying because you feel so badly about yourself.
Another beautiful day here in the mountains of West Virginia, and another chance for me to analyze the Black & Gold to the best of my mediocre abilities. You can tell that the Saints have been at it for a week now, as the playbook is finally starting to show some signs of sophistication. Today was a day focused on situational plays - more specifically third-down plays, and because of this the offense worked in more motions/checks than they had previously. You want to be able to set yourself in the best position possible in the penultimate down in order to avoid the dreaded fourth.
One part of practice that also stood out to me today was the cadence (cadence is the snap count - ex. “blue 82 blue 82 set hut!") The offense attempted to work in more hard counts and mix ups than they had in any practice recently, but it wasn’t always successful. In just the last thirty minutes, I counted at least four false start penalties, thought this is almost always the case the first day you start mixing it up. The mental challenge gets ratcheted up when you are not only thinking about what your responsibilities are during the play, but must also remain focused on when the play is actually scheduled to start.
I don't worry about the false start penalties, as I fully expect the problem to be ironed out within the next few practices. The more interesting issue to look at is why the offense would suddenly be switching up the snap counts on third down.
The reason is two fold; first, to slow down the pass rush. If the offense is facing a third-and-seven or longer, than the defense knows that it is almost assuredly a pass play. This allows the elite rushers to abandon all defensive responsibilities and put all their efforts into killing the opposing team’s quarterback. Many times this will lead to the defense resembling snarling dogs itching to be released, and the only way to make them sit back on their heels is to confuse them as to when the play will start, and not allow them to time it up.
Second, you want to switch up the snap count so that you can take advantage of the defense’s overzealousness and gain a couple advantages yourself by forcing them to jump offsides. Drawing the defense offsides not only sets you up with a much easier third-down attempt (the difference between third-and-7 and third-and-2 is HUGE,) but also gives the offense a free play. Anything negative that happens to the offense after the defense jumps offsides does not matter. That is why you see quarterbacks just chuck it deep, because if the ball is intercepted, its just a shrug of the shoulders and then you replay five yards closer to your goal.
So you see, cadence is critical, and while it is disappointing that the offense did not do well today, it is no reason for panic.
I fear, dear reader, that it is now time for us to part, but fear not! For we shall be reunited on the 'morrow!
P.S. You may or may not have heard that there was a bit of a scuffle between Khiry Robinson and Curtis Lofton. Some may say that it is a problem for a team to be fighting within themselves, but I say that is hogwash. When you have the offense and defense fighting each other, all it means to me is you have two sides that are extremely competitive and want to be the best. The true problem comes when you have a team that ISN’T willing to fight each other.