Saints over Falcons in Week 12: Observations from the cheap seats

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Observations: Part one

Marcus Williams
NEW ORLEANS, LA – NOVEMBER 22: Marcus Williams #43 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 22, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

It is always interesting watching the cat-and-mouse game between the offense and the defense. In baseball, when a team wants to know if a batter is thinking of bunting, the pitcher throws over to first base to see if the batter flinches as if he’s squaring to bunt. In football, it’s either motion or a subtle move like moving a running back from one side of the QB to the other. That move can force a defense to show it’s hand in coverage. For a QB like Drew Brees, that makes it easy to pick apart a defense.

The entire defense stood out in Thursday’s game, but there were several players who really balled out. Cam Jordan absolutely owns Atlanta. Wears them out like a cheap suit. Jordan had four tackles, three for a loss (they don’t run his way much). He also had three QB hits and two sacks. Atlanta right tackle Ryan Schrader must not sleep much thinking of facing Jordan. Cam’s line in the first Atlanta game was much the same: five tackles, two sacks, a pass defensed and two hits on Ryan.

Another defensive baller has been Sheldon Rankins. Rankins has been double trouble, a run stuffer and pass rusher. He’s living up to his top pick billing and is living in offensive backfields. He had another sack and a couple of tackles for a loss.

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My big defensive guy from this week is Eli Apple. As opposed to putting Marshon Lattimore on Julio Jones, they put Apple on Jones and Lattimore on Calvin Ridley. Interesting move which worked out well. Apple had 10 tackles and a pass defensed. He was fantastic in coverage on Jones, denying him several balls. Jones is still a great receiver and was going to get his catches. And it should be noted that Jones’ biggest catches were while the Saints were in a soft zone coverage, and Jones simply found holes in the zone. Apple did his job very well. On the play he defended, Jones had a step on him and the ball came to Jones in not a terrible spot. Apple got his hands inside of Jones’ when the ball hit his hands. Apple spread his hands apart, which opened Jones’ hands and the ball fell harmlessly. Excellent play; even in a trail position he didn’t get burned.

The offensive line again did a solid job, despite having some injuries and worn players. They allowed only their 10th sack of Drew Brees this season. But considering the short week, and the fact that it harmed nothing in the game, it’s not a worry.