Blitzing Brandon Weeden could help bring Saints victory
By John Hendrix
Needless to say, Brandon Weeden is not Tony Romo. You’d be fooling yourself to think that his production could replace him otherwise. However, Weeden does carry several seasons of experience in the league. For the New Orleans Saints to pick up their first victory in 2015, I believe that Rob Ryan’s defense must be more aggressive.
With a little help from Pro Football Focus, I looked at the Saints’ blitzing through the first three games. By my count, I have Ryan’s defense blitzing on 21 of 98 eligible drop-backs by opposing quarterbacks (21.4 percent). Here’s how they’ve looked.
Saints defense – Blitz effectiveness by Week
- Carson Palmer (Week 1): 7 drop-backs, 3-for-7, 120 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Jameis Winston (Week 2): 5 drop-backs, 1-for-4, 23 yards, sack
- Cam Newton (Week 3): 9 drop-backs, 4-for-8, 104 yards, sack
Hau’oli Kikaha and Cam Jordan are currently the Saints two best pass rushers, having 9 quarterback hurries each. Of the Saints 5 sacks this season, Kikaha (2) and Jordan (1) currently account for the bulk. Obviously, it’s still early, but it’s a very encouraging sign to see Jordan returning more to his 2013 Pro Bowl form.
Here’s a look at Brandon Weeden’s 20-for-26, 232 yard performance against the Falcons.
Brandon Weeden vs. the Atlanta Falcons
- No pressure – 23 drop-backs, 20-for-23, 209 yards
- Under pressure – 5 drop-backs, 2-for-3, 23 yards, interception, 2 sacks
- Not blitzed – 19 drop-backs, 16-for-18, 182 yards, sack
- Blitzed – 9 drop-backs, 6-for-8, 50 yards, sack and interception
Last season, Rob Ryan’s squad blitzed 32.1 percent of the time, which ranked as the 11th highest in the league. It was a drastic change over the 2013 season, which saw the Saints defense turn in a 21st ranking in the NFL (28.2 percent). For perspective, the St. Louis Rams were tops in the league last season in terms of blitzing at 45.5 percent of the time. That sounds eerily familiar considering their defensive coordinator is Gregg Williams.
Why blitz? Because the added pressure on the quarterback can lead to mistakes, and that’s something a struggling team can benefit from. The New Orleans Saints are one of three teams who have not recorded an interception on defense this season. Cornerback Keenan Lewis could return to action this Sunday, which would help the secondary tremendously, but the big question would be, who sees their reps decrease?
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