Baun the Pawn.
In chess, the pawn can only move straight forward. If it has to, it can move forward diagonally to either side to capture an opposing piece, but it sure as hell can’t go sideline to sideline and even less backwards.
LB Zack Baun barely saw the field last year as a second-round pick, but it looked like the light came on in preseason, when the other teams aren’t scheming, and he looked good against the Packers, when we running downhill for most of the game. All of a sudden, against the Panthers, who were focused on getting RB Christian McCaffery against Baun in space matchups, he just got….smoked. Just looked like the dude was utterly incapable of playing in space, which has been an LB requirement in the NFL since about 1963.
Against the Pats last Sunday, Baun was only on the field for seven snaps, while LB Kaden Elliss (taken in the 7th round the same year as Baun) and rookie LB Pete Werner both had 30-plus snaps each.
Here’s hoping we find a way to make Baun a contributor somehow.
Announcing tragedies, or….Wut?
I forget exactly the precise context (probably a blitz or something), but at one point during the game on Sunday color announcer Mark Schlereth said, definitively and with supreme confidence, “You gotta come in hell bent for election!”
I admit, he got me there. Election? Extended warranty plan? Student council? Gender assignment surgery? Certainly, each of those would require some level of bent hell, but I still don’t quite understand what the hell he was talking about.
I guess if you think about it, he was a single consonant away from being a really, really famous person on the internet for several days, so I guess we’ll just let it go.
Later, the play-by-play guy (whose name I refuse to look up) at one point during the game said “No matter what Brees and Brady were doing, these are two defenses that have played really well the last decade or half-decade or so.”
Right after which I blacked out, maybe it was the railroad spike I had just grasped and rammed into my left temple. Maybe the producer fed him that one through the earpiece just for the unintentional comedy. Sadly, we’ll never know.
Heard a tossaway line during the game that the pick-six by SS Malcolm Jenkins was seventh career INT return for a TD, while noting he had 21 career interceptions.
Naturally I was intrigued, and went for the data. There are 19 players in NFL history who have seven or more career pick-sixes, and none of them other than Jenkins have done it in fewer than 29 picks (the immortal Otis Smith). In fact, of the 31 guys with six or more pick-sixes, Jenkins has the highest percentage of TD returns per pick.
Next time you see Jenkins with a pick, pay close attention to the return.
The Rushers Aren’t Coming.
A little disappointing to see rookie DE Payton Turner, who was such a factor the previous week, have 32 mostly invisible snaps on Sunday, not even showing up in the box score with an assist. For that matter, DE Carl Granderson had almost as many snaps but only two QB hits to show for it. For yet another matter, DE Cam Jordan over the first three games has five solo tackles and zero sacks over three games. Overall, our outside pass rush shows that we need to get DE Marcus Davenport back from IR as soon as we can. As it is, those four DE have only one sack among them.
Meanwhile, former DE Trey Hendrickson, who signed with the Bengals in the offseason, has 2.5 sacks, while the Saints DEs as a whole have 3.0, two of which are from new DE Tanoh Kpassangon (thank god Buddy D. is already in his eternal rest) whom we snagged from the Chiefs in the off-season (let’s hope this one works out like the Joe Horn signing 21 years ago).
My pre-season predictions were that we could not afford to pay Hendrickson anyway (true) and that because we had a ton of DE talent on the roster already in Jordan, Davenport, Granderson and then Turner that we wouldn’t miss Hendrickson (maybe not so true).
Our DEs have only 20 or so “pressures” (hurries + hits + sacks) on 130 opponent pass attempts. It just seems like these are coverage sacks and we don’t have a ton of edge pressure, and if you plan to win three or four playoff games with that kind of outside pass rush, that’s a pretty dicey way to do it. Plenty of time to figure it out, but it needs to get better.
They Might Not Be Giants.
Now, Sunday’s Giants game sets us up against an 0-3 team, but note that the Giants lost twice on final-play FGs (Washington 30-29, Falcons 17-14), their offense is ranked in the middle of the league, their only bad loss (27-13) was to 3-0 Denver….
Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, but the Giants are a bad, bad team. Atlanta is one of the worst teams in the NFL, getting crushed twice and sitting 1-2. Denver may be 3-0, but they are 3-0 against the Giants, Jags and Jets, three of the five worst teams in the league (with Atlanta and Detroit). Washington is 1-2 with a loss at home to the Chargers and got crushed by the Bills. The only success any of these bottom feeders have had so far is beating up on each other, and you have to see Denver’s 3-0 start (they were 5-11 last year) as largely the product of early schedule luck.
I know what happened in Carolina, and coming home can be a distraction in the first place much less post-Ida and it’s the end of what is a month-long road trip….but I have a lot of trouble seeing a generally healthy Saints defense doing anything but dominating the Giants.
Saints 34, Giants 6.
GO SAINTS GO.