Wednesday, October 03, 2012

What The Defense Could Have Done Better Against The Saints

While I was watching the coaches film from the Packers win over Saints, I was focusing on the defense and what they could have done better. One thing that stood out was the positioning of S Jerron McMillian, who played like an inside linebacker for most of the game, without much success. This resulted in a lot of time on the bench for the starting inside linebackers. Sometimes, it even meant that LB A.J. Hawk was on the bench while LB D.J. Smith was on the field. And after a slow start to the season, Smith is looking a lot better in pass coverage.

To QB Drew Brees's credit, he did a good job of picking apart the middle and throwing away from the help defender. Since WR Marques Colston and TE Jimmy Graham are bigger than every Packer defensive back, and a threat to go downfield, the Packers rarely pressed in coverage and gave the Saints' receivers some space to catch short passes.

I looked back at the game film from the one time the Saints had struggled this season; during the fourth quarter of their overtime loss to the Chiefs. Could the Packers had done something that the Chiefs did against the Saints? The number one thing they could have done was rush the quarterback better, but that's easier said than done. The Chiefs did a better job of taking the middle of the field away in pass coverage; LB Derrick Johnson's size made it harder to throw in between the hash marks to Graham. Also, Brees just wasn't as accurate as he missed on a couple sideline throws, which might have been caused by the Chiefs' pass rush. The Saints also seemed more determined to go deep against the Chiefs than the Packers, which led to a few deep incompletions, but that might have been a matter of taking what the defense was giving you and Brees missed on some deep sideline throws. Scheme wise, there wasn't something different the Packers could have obviously done. It was really up to their defenders to make a play.

The good news for the Packers defense is that they should only get better. They do need either LB Nick Perry or DE Jerel Worthy to step up as a reliable pass rusher alongside LB Clay Matthews. Rookie McMillian and CB Casey Hayward played a lot against the Saints, with mixed success, but they should only get better with experience. Hopefully we see more of it next Sunday against the Colts.

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