Saints Film Study: Position By Position Breakdown of Week 1
By and large, the cornerbacks actually had a pretty solid game. They were exposed by the lack of pass rush. Despite the injuries to Keenan Lewis, Damian Swann, and Kyle Wilson, the starting combination of Breaux, P.J. Williams, and De’Vante Harris looked to be a dangerous secondary group. Now, with Breaux injured, things are up in the air.
Breaux played, as always, a fantastic game. His coverage was on point, and he’s continued to develop into a factor in run support. He’s actually a hard player to block. His injury is perhaps the most devastating thing that could have happened to the team, apart from an injury to Brees. We’re all hoping for a speedy recovery.
Opposite Breaux, P.J. Williams got his first regular season action, and played admirably. He gave up a few big plays to Cooper, but almost always because of a lack of pressure on Carr. I’ve said it before: Williams is a young player and still has some kinks to work through. But he’s progressing faster than I expected. He looked altogether a very solid corner. He’s going to be sorely tested from here on out until Breaux returns, matched up against Odell Beckham Jr and Julio Jones in the next two weeks.
It’ll be interesting to see how Dennis Allen works out the coverages against these two talents. So far, it seems that the Saints could do much worse than Williams. He’s a physical player, somewhat in the mold of Breaux; he likes to jam at the line and is excellent at mirroring his receiver. Like Breaux, he seems to struggle most when the ball is actually in the air, but he’s improving. Saints fans seem to think the sky is falling in the secondary; not true. Williams is better than anyone the Saints had behind Breaux last year.
And, if you ask me, the same is true for De’Vante Harris. Harris had a superb game. I may be wrong but I didn’t see him surrender a single reception on Sunday. He’s not quite the physical specimen that Williams and Breaux are, but he’s arguably better than Williams at sticking tight in coverage. And he’s a scrappy tackler. He had a few notable moments against the Raiders where he evaded blockers very well, and was in position to make the play in run support. I’m curious to see where the Saints line him up against New York, if he’ll stay as the nickel corner or move out to the outside. Talent-wise, he deserves to play on the outside. But he’s been playing exclusively on the inside, and the Saints may prefer to keep him where he’s playing well.
They didn’t move him to the outside on Sunday when Breaux went down. Instead they brought in fellow UDFA Ken Crawley, who looked more the UDFA-part. The Raiders made their comeback primarily by attacking Crawley. He wasn’t prepared to step in a cover Cooper. Dennis Allen will try to protect him more with safety help and game planning against the Giants, so he may not be such a liability going forward. But the secondary is no longer a strength of this D when Crawley is on the field. I’d also like to note that, although it’s unfair to expect too much in run support from cornerbacks, he went unblocked and took the most questionable angle on Richard’s 75-yard touchdown. We’ll see if he gets the starting nod next Sunday, but if he does I expect him to play better.
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