As fans are probably aware, the New Orleans Saints were handed their first loss of the season on Sunday at the hands of the England Patriots.
Star tight end Jimmy Graham was shut down, and the rest of the offnese led by Drew Brees did not look like itself. Here’s an interesting take from ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, who suggests the Patriots have given the rest of the NFL a way to keep the Saints’ offense in check:
“The New England Patriots did what you’ve been asking for forever with a high-powered offense. They got hands on receivers,” Dilfer said to fellow analyst Tom Jackson during a postgame breakdown on SportsCenter. “And a lot’s going to be talked about Jimmy Graham, and him not having a productive day. But they did it to all of them. They disrupted this high-flying offense of the New Orleans Saints by disrupting them at the line of scrimmage. And challenging the rules, quite frankly. I mean, some of these were five, six, seven, eight yards deep. But that’s alright. They’re only going to throw [penalty flags] so many times. Let’s see what the refs are calling today, let’s play aggressive.
“And they really were able to get in the Saints’ head in the passing game. Now, to the Saints’ credit, they get back in the game because they were able to run the football well in the second half. Then terrific Tom [Brady] at the end pulls one out of his hat and wins the football game.”
Dilfer may be on to something. Much of the credit goes to corner Aqib Talib, but the Patriots did find a way to shut down the Saints offense for most of the game, and fans better believe other teams will be watching the film in order to learn how to do the same.
Will it work? Perhaps. Defenses just as good as New England will certainly have a chance, but no two defenses are the same. The groundwork to stopping the Saints has been laid, but the beauty of the cat and mouse game in the NFL is the Saints can just as easily change up what they do to counter.
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