One of the most frustrating things that a fan can see are drive-killing penalties. I decided to peruse the numbers to see how much the “big guys” are slowing down the team. First of all, here’s the depth chart:
I’m going to analyze only the five “usual” starters, even if Tim Lelito has replaced Jahri Evans when he was injured and Bryce Harris if quite often used as an extra-blocker.
Let’s proceed, shall we?
LT Charles Brown
Charles Brown is responsible for a career-high 12 total penalties on the season: 7 offensive holding, 2 false start, 3 illegal use of hands.
3 of those 12 penalties were declined/offsetting: he caused a loss of 79 yards on 9 accepted penalties.
5/12 were committed in the second half; 7/12 were on first down.
Brown had two games with multiple penalties (at New York, at St. Louis) and four games with no penalties against him (two home, two away).
On the road Brown committed 7 penalties (one declined), 5 of which were in Saints territory. Almost a half-field (48 yards) were lost on those 7 penalties.
Analysis: the 2010 second-round pick hasn’t lived up to expectation and is showing inability to improve. He has poor technique and gets beaten both by edge rush and bull rush. Is rookie Terron Armsted ready to step up? Sean Payton said he is “evaluating options”, we’ll see what happens.
LG Ben Grubbs
Grubbs was flagged 5 times, tying his career-high (2008 with the Baltimore Ravens). 3 offensive holding, 1 false start, 1 illegal use of hands for a loss of 45 total yards.
Only one of the penalties occurred in the red zone (offensive holding on the Panthers’ 4-yard line).
On the road he committed just 2 penalties: one on first down (illegal use of hands, 10 yards) and one on fourth down (false start, 5 yards).
Analysis: Grubbs has replaced veteran Carl Nicks (now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) pretty well and his contribution in the screen game is very good. He is struggling this year but that’s more on the lack of talent to his left than anything else: he’s not the one that should be called into question.
C Brian De La Puente
Brian De La Puente has 4 penalties so far and all of them were offensive holding (loss of 39 total yards).
3/4 occurred on first down. None in the red zone.
On the road he was flagged twice, both in the fourth quarter and both when the team was trailing (17-23 at New England, 20-26 at New York).
Analysis: De La Puente has been really inconsistent this year and when he has a bad game Brees is unable to climb the pocket as he usually likes to do on pass plays. We saw that last week against the Rams and we know how that ended. Despite having just 4 penalties, those penalties really hurt the team in terms of momentum shift.
RG Jahri Evans
Despite missing a few games due to injuries Evans has 5 holding penalties on the season. Too many for one of the best guards in the NFL but if we take a look at past years Evans never had less than 4 penalties called on him (since 2006: 6, 4, 5, 5, 12, 7, 5 penalties/season; 374 total yards lost).
Evans cost the Saints 45 yards so far and was flagged twice in the second quarter and three times in the third quarter. Never in the fourth.
Analysis: Evans always plays aggressively and finishes the play more often than not but the team needs more from him. No excuses.
RT Zach Strief
Zach Strief has a team-low 3 penalties and 2 of them occurred last week when he was moved on the left side after Charles Brown was benched.
All fouls were on the road. In St. Louis he was flagged twice on the same drive, on first down (offensive holding, 6-yard loss) and on third down (false start, 5-yard loss).
All penalties occurred in New Orleans’ territory and caused a loss of 20 total yards.
Analysis: while Strief is the most disciplined of the five starters he isn’t playing well allowing a lots of pressures and giving little help in the run game.
Through 14 games they collected 29 total penalties that cost the Saints 228 yards.