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2010 Regular Season
SAINTS @ CARDINALS PREVIEW

  • When: Sun. 10/10 - 4:05 pm ET

  • Satellite Radio 10/10 -  4:05 pm - SIRIUS Ch 127

  • Televised: Sun. 10/10 -  4:05 pm ET (DirecTV Sunday Ticket  Channel 713)

Overview
Last Game
Meet the Saints
Cardinals Roster
Cardinals vs. Saints Matchups

Overview:
The Saints beat the Vikings and the Niners, lost to the Falcones and pulled out a 16 - 14 squeaker vs. the Panteras to give them a 3 & 1 record. The Cardinals were flat-out embarrassed by the Chargers and wind up tied for first in a weak NFC West Division at 2 & 2. (Frankly, based on their caliber of play, the Cards could just as easily be 0 & 4).

The Cards figure to have blown all or most of their home-field advantage. Normally, a team should look forward to coming off a road trip to play before hometown fans. Unfortunately, the Cards return to Glendale with their tails between their legs, facing a fan-base that, at best, figures to be "concerned" &, at worst, hostile.

Different games have different flavours of spin leading up to them. Some games are "must games." Some determine playoff eligibility or survival. Some are considered "trap games." Some define "who a team is." This is one of those rare "Let's see how the kid does" games. Max Hall has gotten the starting nod for this Sunday. (Let's see how he does).

Last Game:
Saints won a pitchers dual. They appeared to have had the game under control only to be repeatedly undone by turnovers & dropped passes. (When you go through the play-by-play log, you see the same relentless short-pass offense that chewed up NFL teams (including the Cardinals a year ago). It's just that the Saints kept failing to put it across the goal line. Other than uncharacteristically giving up a couple of big plays (One when Malcom Jenkins let  the receiver get behind him and the other when the run defense failed to keep D'Angelo Williams bottled up & allowed him to cut back en route to  a 39 yard TD) the NO continued its stout play. Notable big defensive plays: Usama Youn'g stuff of  Williams for a 4-yard loss and Jenkins' sack of  A 16-play 4Q scoring drive with Brees patiently pecking away was pretty impressive:

First Quarter

  • There was no scoring in the 1Q. On their first offensive series, the Saints made it all the way to the Panther 12 in 14 plays, but Moore's fumble at the one-yard line resulted in a turnover and touchback. They held Carolina to 3 & out and (aided by 2 defensive penalties) made it to the Panther 4 in seven plays as the quarter ended.   First Quarter Score: New Orleans 0 - Carolina 0.

Second Quarter

  • On the eighth play of the series, Brees hit Moore for a 4-yard TD.  New Orleans 7 - Carolina 0.

  • On the 5th play of the next series, Jimmy Clausen hitJonathon Stewart for a 55 yard score. New Orleans 7 - Carolina 7.

  • Brees moved his team to the Carolina 36 in 6 plays, but C Ivory (after rambling 13 yards around RE fumbled. Carolina ball. Panthers could gain much traction and eventually punted. Starting on his own 23, Brees led his team on a 13-play drive capped by a 32-yard Carney FG with 1:17 left on the clock.  New Orleans 10 - Carolina 7.

  • Panthers went 3 & out. Saints - with 0:42 to play with - made it to the Carolina 46 with 0:18 left before Brees was sacked and turned over the ball. Halftime Score: New Orleans 10 - Carolina 7.

Third Quarter

  • Saints received and punted 7 plays later. Panthers took over on their own 20 and opened up a lead when D Williams circled LE for a 39-yard touchdown.   Carolina 14 - New Orleans 10.

  • The Saints were unable to move the ball, but got it back on a contested muffed punt  Starting on the Pantera 29, they managed to get inside the Carolina 10 before settling on a 32 yard Carney FG.  Carolina 14 - New Orleans 13.

  • The two teams exchanged 3 & outs. Carolina managed to pick up a 1st down on the following series to end the quarter.  Third Quarter Score: Carolina 14 - New Orleans 13.

Fourth Quarter

  • Carolina ran out of steam and punted 4 plays later. Starting from their own 7-yard line, the Saints reeled off 16 (yup 16!) plays to move into FG position at the Panther 7. (Longest play of the drive was a 16-yard Brees-Thomas pass). Carney booted home another one from 25 yards.. New Orleans 16 - Carolina 14

  • Just 3:55 left on the clock. Four consecutive Carolina running plays put them on their own 46 yard line at the 2:00 break. They got to the NO 36 at 1:35 with no time outs, but a 4-yard loss on a run by D Williams and a minus-4 yard sack of Clausen brought the clock to 0:08 when he threw his final pass of the contest (which fell incomplete).  Final Score: Orleans 16 - Carolina 14

Highlights/Lowlights

  • Turnovers - Three fumbles/2 for losses (but both were at or near the enemy goal line). No picks, though.

  • Only 4 penalties.

  • 121 yards rushing (They gave up 118 to a rush-oriented Carolina team).

  • They were 8 for 14 in 3rd down conversions.

  • They passed 50 times (vs. 29 running plays)

  • NO ballcarriers were tackled 5 times for losses.

  • Brees was sacked twice. (NO pass rushers racked up 3 sacks)

  • No picks by either team.

  • Ivory and Betts were the two main NO ballcarriers (Ivory gained 67 yards on 12 carries. Betts gained 47 yds on 13 attempts).

  • Six NO receivers had at least 4 catches. Henderson led the team with 6 catches out of 9 targeted. Shockey (another freakin' TE!!!) was second with 6 for 8. Thomas and Moore had 5 catches apiece, followed by Betts (4) and Colston (4)

  • As a punter, Morstead had a big gross yardage figure (53.3) but his net yardage was down to near-average at 40.3.

Meet the Saints
Super Bowl champs. Start with that. But, as NO Times Picayune beat-writer, Jeff Duncan puts it, he can't quite put his finger on the problem, but the Saints thus far have not played with the same kind of edge that won them the Super Bowl last season. While fans can receive some solace from the fact that, despite turnovers and less than perfect play, the Saints are still 3 & 1. (What seems to bother Duncan is the way the Saints have won those games - not in the dominating fashion characteristic of 2009-2010 but relying on the field goal to pull out close games).

 Quarterbacks
09 Brees, Drew QB 6-0 209 31 10 Purdue
10 Daniel, Chase QB 6-0 225 23 2 Missouri
For those of you who question Max Hall's size, check Check Brees' height (6 freakin' foot-zero)! Yet we're talking about a QB who completes nearly 75% of his passes and has a QB rating north of 100. He is the master of the short pass (aka "death by a thousand cuts") spreading the ball around to a (dare we say) plethora of receivers (including his RB's and TE's). He is relentless and unstoppable, though turnovers have helped keep NO's scoring down this season. Daniels has looked sharp in a backup role.


Running Backs
25 Bush, Reggie RB 6-0 203 25 5 Southern California

23 Thomas, Pierre RB 5-11 215 25 4 Illinois
29 Ivory, Chris RB 6-0 222 22 R Tiffin

21 Wynn, DeShawn RB 5-10 232 26 4 Florida
46 Betts, Ladell RB 5-11 224 31 9 Iowa
44
Evans, Heath FB 6-0 250 31 10 Auburn

It's unclear who is or isn't injured. Bush is listed atop the depth chart, but Ivory and Betts saw most of the action last Sunday. When healthy, this is an underrated group of backs, with Bush a scatback with surprising pop between the tackles leading the way. Evans is a seasoned 10-year lead-blocking veteran.


 Wide Receivers
12 Colston, Marques WR 6-4 225 27 5 Hofstra
16 Moore, Lance WR 5-9 190 27 5 Toledo
 xx Adrian Arrington

19 Henderson, Devery WR 5-11 200 28 7 Louisiana State
17 Meachem, Robert WR 6-2 210 26 4 Tennessee
15 Roby, Courtney WR 6-0 189 27 5 Indiana
Colston leadsa deep group of receivers in numbers of catches, but Moore is their home run guy. Arrington is listed on the depth chart, but not the roster.

 Tight Ends
88 Shockey, Jeremy TE 6-5 251 30 9 Miami (Fla.)
85 Thomas, David TE 6-3 248 27 5 Texas
80 Graham, Jimmy TE 6-6 260 23 R Miami (Fla.)
84 Humphrey, Tory TE 6-2 255 27 4 Central Michigan

Shockey is this week's Zach Miller or Antonio Gates if you know what I'm sayin'. He will be next in a series of "challenges" for Adrian Wilson.  Thomas is also a receiving threat. Humphrey is listed on the roster, but not the NO depth chart.

 Offensive Line
74 Bushrod, Jermon LT 6-5 315 26 4 Towson
71
Brown, Charles T 6-5 297 23 R Southern California

77 Nicks, Carl LG 6-5 343 25 3 Nebraska
65 Tennant, Matt C/G 6-4 300 23 R Boston College
76 Goodwin, Jonathan C 6-3 318 31 9 Michigan
73 Evans, JahriR G 6-4 318 27 5 Bloomsburg

78 Stinchcomb, Jon T 6-5 315 31 8 Georgia
64 Strief, Zach T 6-7 320 27 5 Northwestern
Few if any household names here, but this unit has given up just 7 sacks despite throwing the ball 3/4 of the time. (This may have more to do with Brees' quick release and decision-making than pure pass pro talent; but whatever it is - it works, Although the Saints thus far haven't stressed the run, the NO O-line has been adept at opening holes for Bush, Pierre Paul and the other RB's. We're kind of surprised that Stinchcomb has settled in at RT. We had always considered him more of a finessy pass protector (i.e. a LT) than a meat-grinder over on the right side.

1



 Defensive Line

96 Brown, Alex LDE 6-3 260 31 9 Florida
99 Wilkerson, Jimmy DL 6-2 270 29 8 Oklahoma
93 Galette, Junior DE 6-2 258 22 R Stillman
98 Ellis, Sedrick DT 6-1 307 25 3 Southern California
92 Ayodele, Remi NT 6-2 318 27 4 Oklahoma
69 Hargrove, Anthony DL 6-3 272 27 6 Georgia Tech
91 Smith, Will DE 6-3 282 29 7 Ohio State

97 Charleston, Jeff DE 6-4 265 27 4 Idaho State
Saints employ a 4-man front with an UT and NT in the middle. NO has given up an average of more than 100 yards per game on the ground during its first 5 games. Smith and Brown are capable pass rushers off the edge. Ayodele is solid in the middle. Ellis leads the defense with 3 sacks. .

 Linebacker

58 Shanle, Scott OLB 6-2 245 30 8 Nebraska
55
Clark, Danny LB 6-2 233 33 11 Illinois
51 Vilma, Jonathan MLB 6-1 230 28 7 Miami (Fla.)
50 Mitchell, Marvin LB 6-3 249 25 4 Tennessee
56 Dunbar, Jo-Lonn LB 6-0 226 25 3 Boston College
53 Arnoux, Stanley LB 6-0 232 24 2 Wake Forest
59 Waters, Anthony LB 6-3 238 26 4 Clemson

Vilma is the team defensive leader operating from the Mike position. Shanle leads the defense in tackles and appears to fit the role of mop-up guy who swoops in to make the assist.

 Secondary
33 Greer, Jabari LCB 5-11 180 28 7 Tennessee
34 Robinson, Patrick LCB 5-11 191 23 R Florida State
22 Porter, Tracy RCB 5-11 186 24 3 Indiana
20 Gay, Randall CB 5-11 190 28 7 Louisiana State
41
Harper, Roman SS 6-1 200 27 5 Alabama

31 Prioleau, Pierson S 5-11 188 33 12 Virginia Tech
39 Reis, Chris S 6-1 215 27 4 Georgia Tech
27 Jenkins, Malcolm FS/CB 6-0 204 22 2 Ohio State

28 Young, Usama S 6-0 200 25 4 Kent State
We're thinking that there are two possible reasons why opposing offenses run the ball twice as much as does NO: (1) to shorten the game and keep the ball out of Brees' hands or (2) because of the sharks that inhabit the NO deep secondary. This unit is talented and deep. Porter may be out for a couple of weeks, but Jenkins (listed on the depth chart as a FS) is listed on the roster as a CB. Young stuffed a run at a key point in the win over Carolina. Harper and Porter have 2 of NO's three interceptions.

 Special Teams
06 Morstead, Thomas P 6-4 225 24 2 Southern Methodist
05
Hartley, Garrett K 5-8 196 24 3 Oklahoma
03
Carney, John K 5-11 185 46 22 Notre Dame
57
Kyle, Jason LS 6-3 242 38 16 Arizona State
25 Bush, Reggie PR/RB 6-0 203 25 5 Southern California
16 Moore, Lance WR 5-9 190 27 5 Toledo
15 Roby, Courtney KR/WR 6-0 189 27 5 Indiana

We're not sure about the status of NO's kickers. Carney isn't listed on the depth chart but does show up on the roster. Bush and Roby are both dangerous in the return game, though none has taken it to the house thus far this season. Longest KO return was for 39 yards. Longest NO punt return was for 72 (by  Moore).

Coaching Staff

Sean Payton  Head Coach
Pete Carmichael, Jr.  Offensive Coordinator
Gregg Williams  Defensive Coordinator
Greg McMahon Special Teams Coordinator
Peyton is perennial coach of the year material.Williams is credited for putting teeth and substance into the NO defense. Just guessing, but the true OC figures to be Peyton, with Carmichael implementing Sean's strategies.

Saints Stats
  • 78 first downs converted (vs. 66 for opponents)

  • 293 rushing yards (vs. 553 for opponents)

  • 1083 passing yards (vs. 785 for opponents)

  • 160 passing attempts (vs. 110 for opponents)

  • 10 FG attempts (vs. 3 for opponents)

  • Brees is completing 73.8% of his passes for 7 TD's and 2 picks for a 102.4 QB Rating.

  • Pierre Thomas gained 147 yards on 46 carries but didn't play Sunday (I'm not sure what his injury status is). Chris Ivory (80 total yards) and Ladell Betts (47) did most of the running vs. Carolina.

  • Their TE (Schockey) is the leading receiver (20 catches for 196 yards) followed by a WR (Colston) with 18 catches and a RB (Pierre-Paul) with 17. Lance Moore leads the team with 209 yards from 14 catches). He leads receivers with 3 TD's.Devery Henderson and David Thomas have 13 grabs each.

  • No NO punt or KO returns have gone for TD's so far. Longest KO return was for 39 yards. Longest punt return was for 72 (by Lance Moore)..  Longest opposing punt return was for 16 yards, Longest opposing KO return was for 46.

  • Defensively, four NO players (Vilma, Greer, Jenkins, Shanle) have more than 20 tackles, with Shanle the team leader with 24 (10 of which were assists).

  • NO has 6 sacks to its credit (vs. 7 for its opponents). Leading sacker is Sedrick Ellis with 3.

  • Saints have 3 interceptions; Brees has only been picked off two times. (NO picks were by Harper, Porter and Vilma).


Cardinal Roster

QB - 03 Anderson, 06 Hall,  19 Skelton,
Anderson floundered vs. SD and was replaced by Hall prior to halftime. Hall gets the nod Sunday. Hall is greener than grass (but how could you be any more erratic and turnover-prone than Anderson - don't answer that!) The CW would place Hall in more of a game-manager, 3-step-drop/run the ball more/control the clock mode than the more wide-open offense with Anderson in there; but you never know.

RB - 34 Hightower, 31 Wright, 36 Stephens-Howling  (KR/PR), 26, Wells
It's hard to get a bead on Cardinal runners since they get used so seldom. All we can you is that (a) Hightower is good for at least decent  TD run per game (at least when it isn't called back). Beanie looked pretty good last week though limited to 5 carries. Stephens-Howling has surprising strength inside the tackles for a little guy. Wright is solid in all aspects of the game (including running).

FB - 45 Mau'ia
He's the guy who cost Hightower the TD last Sunday, but he does have some talent as a lead blocker (described by Wolfley as a "dumpster with teeth."

WR - 15 Breaston, 12 Roberts,  18 Komar,  80 Doucet
WR -11 Fitzgerald (Probable), 14 S Williams,
Fitz seems most of the way back from his knee injury, but had to fly solo (or close to it) last week with Breaston and Doucet out due to inury. This presented the opposing defense with a really attractive "dilemma":  Who to double (or triple cover): Fitz? Or Komar, Williams, Roberts or Onrea Jones? Result - putrid passing production

TE - 89 Patrick, 83 Spach,  81 Dray
Patrick is slowly emerging as a go-to TE target but didn't get thrown to much last week - maybe he could have taken some pressure off DA or Hall. Spach is the best blocker of the three (although he can be expected to have at least one frustrating penalty called on him each game). Dray is promising but still a rook.

LT- 75 L Brown,
73 Bridges
LG-
66 Faneca,  70 Hadnot
OC-
63Sendlein, 62 Claxton, (70 Hadnot)
RG- 76 Lutui
RT 
72 Keith
Underachievers across the board. We hope Derrick Anderson's rib doctor kicks back some of his profits to the bumbling Cardinal front 5. While Faneca is a definite asset in the run game, he's living on his rep in pass pro. Brown, Sendlein, Lutui and Keith don't give Anderson or Hall enough time to duck let alone pick out an open receiver. (The Cardinal sacks-permitted total was, we believe somewhere in the neighborhood of 9.

DE - 93 Campbell, 79 Iwebema
NT - 97 B Robinson, 98 Watson, 92 D Williams
DT - 90 Dockett, 78 Branch
These guys are (a) inconsistent and (b) get rattled easily when things aren't going right. Result - they're inclined to get caught out of position, bite on fakes and overrrun plays. And (are you listening D-Dock?) they jump offsides too often.

OLB1 - 55 Porter
ILB  51 Lenon, 52 Obiozor
ILB- 58 D Washington,
56 Walker,
OLB2 - 53 Haggans,  59 W Davis
Our inside backers (Lenon and DWash) had atypical "bad hair days last Sunday (So did Porter and Haggans but  their lack of production was unfortunately more typical. The entire unit tended to run themselves out of plays, fill the wrong gaps and get lost in space covering passes.

RCB - 28 Toler, 37 McBride, MacDonald
LCB-
29 Rodgers-Cromartie, 27 Adams   
SS-
  24 Wilson,
 22 Ware, 41 Abdullah,
40 Tillman
FS- 25 Rhodes,  
49 Rash Johnson
Last Sunday you could make the case that our best DB was Toler. DRC has been a less reliable tackler and has given up more big plays than he's made. A-Dub contines to be undressed by opposing TE's (i.e. Zach Miller and Antonio Gates) - and this week draws (yippee!) Jeremy Schockey (a very scary thought indeed). Rhodes will occasionally fall victim but has been making more big plays than he's given up. His fumble recovery and TD run last week was arguably the only Cardinal highlight of the afternoon.

K-04 Feely
P- 05 B Graham,

H - 05  B Graham
LS-
82 Leach
KR -
37Stephens-Howling

PR
- 12 Roberts, 18 Komar, 15 Breaston, 37Stephens-Howling
Feely and Graham are fine. So is LSH (who has Sproles-style home run potential returning KO's). Our punt return game has continually been an adventure, but Roberts did have one good one near the end of last week's fiasco vs. the Chargers.

   Cardinals vs. Saints Matchups

Injuries:
Cardinals:  DNP: Doucet (groin), Breaston (knee), Iwebema (knee), Ware (ankle)
. LP: Lenon (pelvis) Probable: TBA  

Saints: DNP: Bush (fibula),Pierre-Thomas (ankle), W Smith (groin), T Porter (knee) . LP: Harper (hammy), Prilolieau (chest), Schockey (knee) . Probable: TBA .

New Orleans  Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Cardinal pass defenders have been undressed when they have to cover quality TE's in addition to other receiving options. Adrian Wilson bolo'd against Zach Miller and Antonio Gates. This week he draws Jeremy Schockey (albeit a gimpy version).  The NO offensive attack run by Brees is relentless - consistently moving down the field like a giant centipede. Brees spreads the ball around to several receivers, his RB's and his TE's. He makes decisions and gets rid of the ball quickly which, in turn keeps him generally upright (he's been sacked a reasonable 7 times in 5 games). Going into the season, a Cardinal defensive strength appeared to be its mix & match versatility, manouverability & aggressiveness that would enable them to gang up on an opposing weakness. The mutli-threat attack of the Saints pretty much negates this, because our defenders will be too preoccupied with various threats to scheme against one. The Cardinal secondary will have its hands full and its pass rushers figure to be one or two steps late getting to Brees before he gets rid of the ball.

New Orleans Running Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
The Saints don't run a lot, but when they do, they can gash you. They lack the big pounding presence of a Jackson, Gore or Snelling but have guys who can take it to the house if you don't maintain gap and contain-discipline. Reggie Bush and Pierre-Thomas did not practice Wed. and didn't play last week. Saints relied on Ivory and Betts). Card run defenders must be careful not to abandon their assignments and run themselves out of plays. Our LB's and DB's must break down properly in order to bottle up any breakaway threats (i.e. no lunging and whiffing by DRC or Joey P one-on-one in the open field).

Cardinal Passing Attack vs. New Orleans Pass Defense
Hall gets the starting nod. We imagine he'll be given a more Brees-like game plan - i.e. lots of short, horizontal, move-the-chains, manage-the-game type safe stuff relying on his quick release/decision-making along with a more balanced run/pass mix than we've seen to date. Cardinal pass blockers will have to do a better job containing the Saint inside pass rush (especially by Ellis) and - if it's Hall in there - an assortment of blitz packages. A bunch of NO defensive backs (Prioleau, Harper, Porter) are banged up.

Key to the success of our passing attack is to keep it simple and minimize the risk of turnovers (both picks and sack/fumbles)

Cardinal Running Attack vs. New Orleans Run Defense
When you review the NO stats (553 rushing yards allowed), you come to the logical conclusion that  the Saints can be run against.  Beanie should be healthy. THT should be healthy. When we brought in Hall, we demonstrated the willingness to look for answers outside our normal offensive box. So go it one better and run the ball and run it some more - even if the yardage is paltry at first. At the very least (assuming that Hall gets the nod), the threat of the run figures to afford the passer some degree of sack-security and could be instrumental in setting up the pass & establishing some rhythm. In addition, our O-line might enjoy a nice day of ramming the ball down the other team's throat instead of becoming exhausted filling the role of "dancing bears." 

Special Teams
Excuse me for stating the obvious, but, each week, it seems as though at least 2 or three games are influenced in a big way by special teams - either a long return or a blocked punt or FG. The Cards have kick blockers galore (C Campbell, DRC, A-Dub and others) and they have a return guy with home run potential in LSH. As the Chargers discovered in Seattle a couple of weeks ago, big special teams plays can be the Great Equalizer. One way to bring the Saints back to earth could be via special teams. Of course, this can work both ways - a lackadaisical approach to kick coverage by the Cardinal coverage unit could result in happy times for Reggie Bush, so we'd better be careful.

Final Word
3 & 2 going into Bye Week sounds a lot better than 2 & 3. But I'm afraid scary times lie ahead for the Cardinals; happy days for the Saints. But more often than you'd think, strange things have been known to upset the fiercest of forecasts in the NFL. One thing's for sure, however: Pleasant surprises cannot occur unless the team on the good end of a surprise plays hard and keeps its cool for the entire game. "Opportunities will pass you by unless you remain ready and poised to pounce on them." (Fingers crossed).

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