The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

How to Stop the Saints’ Prolific Offense

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The Saints aren’t a particularly good team right now, but their offense is still among the best in the NFL. At NBC, I broke down three key matchups for the Cowboys’ defense in this contest.

DT Sean Lissemore versus OG Jahri Evans

When I was in high school, I visited a football camp at a small Division II college in northern Pennsylvania called Bloomsburg. There, I watched a massive man bench press 185 pounds 50 times, easily, and then get up and walk away. They called him “Rhino,” and now he (Jahri Evans) is one of the best offensive guards in the NFL.

The Saints love to run the football outside (when they run it, that is), averaging 7.4 YPC on 78 carries outside of the tackles. Outside linebackers Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware play so well against the run, however, that New Orleans could be forced to run it up the gut. There, Lissemore’s ability to man his ground against Rhino & Co. could be the deciding factor in the Saints’ ability to rush the ball effectively. Playing against one of the league’s most lethal air attacks, the last thing Dallas needs is to be unable to stop the run as well.

Read the whole post at NBC.

And at Dallas Morning News, I examined how Rob Ryan could potentially limit Drew Brees.

Getting Pressure

The Cowboys would obviously benefit from sacking Brees, but more important than that is consistently getting in his face. At 6’0’’, Brees struggles most with rushers right in front of him. The problem is that blitzing Brees is a risky proposition; Brees has a 102.6 passer rating when blitzed in 2012. Thus, the Cowboys will need to find ways to get to Brees with three, four, and the occasional five-man rush.

Let’s take a look at how the Giants picked off Brees in Week 14. . .

With heavy “22” personnel, the Saints lined up in Twins Right on a first down at the Giants’ 31-yard line. The Giants showed two deep safeties prior to the snap and didn’t appear to be in a blitz.

As the Saints have done on 19.3 percent of their passes this season, they showed a run-fake. The Giants linebackers didn’t bite on the fake and their four down-linemen continued toward Brees on their rush.

As Brees turned back around to throw, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was hot on his trail. As Brees threw the football, JPP got a hand up and nearly swatted it away.

Knowing the Giants were in Cover 2, Brees figured the deep middle of the field would be open. With Lance Moore on a go on the outside and tight end Jimmy Graham running a seam route, Brees immediately tossed the ball down the middle to what should have been an open area for Graham.

Safety Stevie Brown didn’t bite deep on the go from Moore, however, instead playing over top of Graham. It looked as though that was the plan for the Giants throughout the game, and it worked; Brees knew where Brown should have been, so he decided to hit Graham on what’s usually a Cover 2-beater. The pressure in his face from Pierre-Paul probably hurt his ability to see Brown creeping over.

See the rest at DMN.

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