Tag:Lance Moore
Posted on: November 23, 2011 6:18 pm
 

Film Room: Giants vs. Saints preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



With a December Monday Night schedule that could make viewers implode from boredom, we at least get to say goodbye to November with a compelling, playoff-implicating NFC matchup. This warrants a classic five-part breakdown.


Saints offense vs. Giants defense
1. Giants pass-rush vs. Saints pass protection
This is a glaring mismatch. New Orleans has the worst pass-blocking offensive tackle tandem in football in Jermon Bushrod (left side) and Zach Strief (right side). Bushrod is slow and has awful technique. Strief is just slow. The sack numbers do not reflect this because Drew Brees is a magician when it comes to getting rid of the ball quickly and moving in and out of the pocket.

Brees, like most star quarterbacks, gets rid of the ball thanks to shrewd presnap reads. But where he’s really elite is in going through his reads. Brees can scan three or four different receivers on a simple five-step drop. He recognizes and anticipates receiver-defender relationships as fast as any passer in the game.

Because so much of what Brees does is based on quick timing and rhythm, it’s not necessarily wise to blitz him. Instead, the objective is to force him to exhaust his progressions. It’s 50-50 that the pass protection can hold up long enough for him to do this (if Brees were a typical quarterback, it’d be more like 25-75). The Rams did this in their Week 8 upset of the Saints.

The Giants’ defensive ends are several grades better than the Rams’. They’ll pressure Brees with four rushers.

2. Saints WR’s vs. Giants secondary
In Week 8, the Rams thrived with physical press coverage aided by safety help. The Giants secondary delivered terrific press coverage in their win at New England a few weeks ago. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more of that Monday night. The Saints have four quality wide receivers: Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore.

With a matchup nightmare like tight end like Jimmy Graham, most of the Saints’ formations involve only three of those wideouts. But whatever the pieces, they can -- and do -- align in all different spots on the field.

This is one reason it’s enticing to play press-man against them. Instead of trying to figure out the litany of formations and route possibilities, a defensive coordinator can put a safety or two over the top and tell his cornerbacks to just jam the hell out of whoever they line up against.

But when defenses can mix in zone coverages, they obviously give themselves more options. With rookie Prince Amukamara now healthy, the Giants might be one of the few secondaries in the league versatile enough to do this against the Saints.

With Corey Webster shadowing DeSean Jackson most of last Sunday night (Webster has shadowed the opposing No. 1 receiver regularly this season), Amukamara and Aaron Ross played inside and outside across from him. Both men played man and zone principles.

The Giants also have a multipronged tool in safety Antrel Rolle. He’s rangy in space and, as a former cornerback, adept at playing all coverages as the nickel slot defender.

3. Saints’ savvy run-pass tactic
Don’t be surprised if the Saints frequently throw out of running formations Monday night. Jimmy Graham is extremely effective running routes from a traditional tight end stance, and fullback Jed Collins is capable of catching passes in the flats. We think of the Saints as a spread offense, but Brees is averaging about 10 pass attempts per game out of two-back formations, and 10 of his 23 touchdown passes have come from such sets.

The run formation approach gains potency because the Giants starting linebackers struggle in coverage. Those struggles manifest drastically if Michael Boley (hamstring) is still out. Boley’s replacement, Mark Herzlich, was fantastic against the run last Sunday, but he was badly exposed when dropping back in coverage.

The linebacking issues are significant enough that the Giants may even be compelled to play their 4-2-5 nickel defense against the Saints base offense (they’d be treating Graham as a wide receiver). In that case, Sean Payton would have his array of running backs pound the rock behind monstrous All-World guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans.

The run formations could also aid New Orleans’ proficient play-action game (Brees was 17/19 for 212 yards and two touchdowns off play-action fakes against the Falcons in Week 10). It’s a myth that you need to establish the run in order to set up play-action.

In reality, defenders are trained to react to movement; play-action will work if the fake and the offensive linemen’s initial movements are executed well, regardless of how a team has been running the ball. That said, those fakes and movements are obviously more believable when the offense is lined up in a run formation.

Giants offense vs. Saints defense
4. Giants run game woes
The Giants will not advance deep in the playoffs if their run game does not get going. A typical Brandon Jacobs run these days involves the 265-pounder stumbling a yard behind the line of scrimmage, bumping into his own blocker, fighting for a yard-and-a-half and then pissing off every player around him by bumping into body after body as he tries to prove his manhood by ferociously picking himself up off the ground before other players can unpile, all the while barking emphatically about ... what, exactly?

How lucky are the defenders that this isn’t four years ago, when Jacobs was actually productive?

The Giants need a healthy Ahmad Bradshaw in the worst of ways. Of course, the rock-firm scatback’s presence would only present a greater opportunity for a rejuvenated run game -- not the assurance of one. Bradshaw was averaging just 4.0 yards per carry before his foot injury -- 0.7 yards below his career average.

New York’s problems start up front. And they may not be solved this week. Center David Baas has struggled with lateral run-blocking in tight spaces. Saints defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin is not an ideal opponent to face when trying to correct this. Thirty-one-year-old left guard David Diehl is showing signs of decline. This week could be tough, as the Saints defensive ends are excellent in run defense, particularly when crashing inside.

If the Giants offensive line can somehow break even in this matchup, New York’s fullbacks and tight ends will likely have opportunities to work against a Saints linebacking corps that’s without leader Jonathan Vilma (out since the start of the month with a knee). The Saints would almost need to commit eight to the box at that point. Roman Harper might be the best pure in-box safety in the NFL, but if the Giants can compel him to focus heavily on the run, they’ll impeded his blitzes, which are one of the Saints’ best weapons in pass defense (see item 5).

5. Saints blitzes
A big reason Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams blitzes so much is he knows his down four linemen cannot consistently collapse the pocket on their own. Don’t expect that to change much Sunday night (even though the Giants offensive tackles struggled mightily against the Eagles).

The difference between Williams’ D and other blitzing defenses is that Williams’ D blitzes hard. His blitzes often involve six pass-rushers instead of just five. And because one of those six rushers is usually a defensive back (Harper is phenomenal in this facet, as his 6.5 sacks on the season attest), and because nickel linebacker Jonathan Casillas has crazy speed and acceleration downhill, New Orleans’ blitzes are exceptionally fast.

Expect Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard to be big factors Monday night; as slot targets they’ll be Eli Manning’s hot reads against these blitzes.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 12 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 10:28 am
Edited on: January 7, 2011 11:11 am
 

Seahawks vs. Saints: 7-Point Wild Card Preview

Posted by Andy Benoit



CBSSports.com's patented and award-winning 7-point playoff preview gets you ready for each and every playoff game. And as an added bonus, check out our playoff podcast preview:



1. New Orleans Saints (No. 5, NFC, 11-5) @ Seattle Seahawks (No. 4, NFC, 7-9)

The 2010 Saints essentially became the first wild card team in history to get a bye when they drew the matchup against the hapless/fruitless/pathetic/laughabl
e/embarrassing NFC West Champion Seahawks. Seattle can obviously play the “nobody believes in us card”. It’s not even a card to play – it’s more just a fact. But it doesn’t matter because nobody believes in their ability to play the “nobody believes in us card” anyway. And nobody cares if the Seahawks have a chip on their shoulder or something to prove or are out for respect or whatever it is bad teams say before big games. So you say nobody thinks you deserve to be here, Seattle? You’re correct. And all the nobodies are correct, too.

2. PLAYOFFS?! Watchability Ranking (On a scale of 5 'Jim Mora Faces')





3. Key Matchup to Watch: Drew Brees & Sean Payton vs. Seahawks D

It’s simple, really: the Seahawks don’t have the firepower to keep up with the Saints. Which is why you can expect the Saints to look to establish a big lead early. Obviously any team would like to establish a big lead early. The difference with New Orleans is that they have a coach who is willing and knows how to do it. The Saints are arguably the best play-scripting team in football. Don’t be surprised if you see 15 different formations in New Orleans’ first 15 plays. Most of those formations will be of the spread variety, given that Drew Brees prefers to get as many weapons as possible involved, and given that New Orleans has all but ignored the run the last three weeks.

Brees will take a keen interest in the Seahawks cornerbacks, neither of whom matches up well with Robert Meachem (expect Meachem to be the No. 1 target given that Marques Colston is questionable after having arthroscopic knee surgery last Tuesday). Kelly Jennings lacks size and Marcus Trufant is inconsistent in deep man-to-man coverage. Seahawks fourth-round rookie Walter Thurmond will also be tempting to pick on, especially if he has to handle the precise route running of Lance Moore.

4. Potentially Relevant Video

If the Saints watch this video sometime during the week, don’t be surprised if Sean Payton, out of support for an angry Reggie Bush (and inside word is Bush is definitely angry) giddily runs up the score on the former USC head coach.



5. The Saints will win if ...

They show up and nothing ridiculous happens.

6. The Seahawks will win if ...

They are on the fortunate end of a fluke turnover (or two…or three) and can gather energy from the home crowd that they don’t deserve to be playing in front of.

7. Prediction: Saints 35, Seahawks 13
Posted on: January 5, 2011 3:57 pm
 

Pierre Thomas sent to IR

P. Thomas was placed on IR today. Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With a rushing game that ranked 28th in the NFL this year, the Saints have had to count on QB Drew Brees and a solid corps of WRs, including Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Robert Meachem, to jumpstart an offense that overall was the sixth-most prolific in the NFL this season.

And while it’s disappointing that New Orleans announced today it was placing RB Pierre Thomas on Injured Reserve with the same left ankle injury that limited him to just six games this season, the Saints have proven they can win without him.

But can they win without any running game at all?

Considering Chris Ivory already is on the IR list, New Orleans basically is left with Reggie Bush and Julius Jones to handle most of the carries. Bush has rushed only 36 times this season for 150 yards, and Jones averages 2.6 yards per carry.

This week, it probably won’t matter, because the Seahaws rank 27th in the league in pass defense.

But without an effective running game – or a running game that can top, say, 50 yards a game – it’s going to be awfully tough to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: October 5, 2010 10:14 am
Edited on: October 5, 2010 6:41 pm
 

Top Ten With a Twist: Curse of Wally Pipp

P. Hillis has taken over the Cleveland running game (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We’re a quarter of the way into the season, and some players who were originally slated to be backups suddenly have emerged as starters. Maybe it was through an injury to the former starter. Maybe it was because the starter wasn’t as good as the team thought and the backup was better. Maybe it was because – and Wally Pipp could relate to this – somebody just needed an off-day.

In fairness to the old-time Yankees first baseman, who was replaced one day (permanently, it turned out) in 1925 by a guy named Lou Gehrig because Pipp had a headache, that story might not be true exactly. Instead, he might have been benched because manager Miller Huggins simply wanted to shake up the lineup. Either way, Gehrig played the next 2,130 games, and Pipp ended up in … Cincinnati (and apparently, he was also one of Sports Illustrated’s first writing hires, one of those cool but useless facts).

Anyway, there have been some impact players to emerge this season so far, simply because they, like Gehrig, were given that chance to shine. Some have won a starting position. Some are just holding it until the real starter returns. But they’re all making a (mostly good) impression. It sounds like the perfect Top Ten With a Twist list to me.

10. Lance Moore, WR/PR, Saints: The story of Moore’s career. A Saints starts gets injured. Moore steps in and makes plays. Remember in 2008 when Moore caught a team-high 79 passes for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns after Marques Colston was hurt? Obviously, when Reggie Bush returns from his broken leg, Moore will fade back into the background – maybe. But man, he looked electric against the Falcons (six catches, 149 yards, two touchdowns), and he’s become a big target for New Orleans when it’s in the red zone.

9. Max Hall, QB, Cardinals: Look, we all know Derek Anderson isn’t a very good quarterback. But I didn’t think he would have a chance to lose his job this early. Hall, meanwhile, was a 2010 undrafted free agent (seriously, how poor is Anderson to lose to an undrafted free agent?). Not that Hall was great when he replaced Anderson on Sunday, because he wasn’t, but he might be Arizona’s best option at this point. Coach Ken Whisenhunt, meanwhile, isn’t talking. “I think we're going to go without [a quarterback) this week,” he joked Monday. “I think we're going to go with all Wildcat."

8. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots: He averaged about eight carries per game his rookie year in 2008, but with Kevin Faulk lost for the season – and Fred Taylor unavailable for the Miami game Monday – Green-Ellis (47 carries this year for 215 yards) has already nearly doubled his attempts from last year. He had his breakout in Week 3 against Buffalo when he carried the ball 16 times for 98 yards and a score, and vs. the Dolphins, he was impressive with a 16-carry, 78-yard, one-touchdown performance.

7. Shaun Hill, QB, Lions:
The reason Hill is so low on this list is because there’s no way he’ll take the job from Matthew Stafford. But still, how impressive has Hill looked the past few weeks? After Stafford went out with the shoulder injury in Week 1, Hill was terrible. But the past three weeks, he’s completed 61.9 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and six interceptions (he’s also averaging 301 passing yards per game), and he really impressed me in Detroit’s two-point loss to Green Bay.

6. Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Raiders: It didn’t take long for Raiders coach Tom Cable to figure out that, in order to save his job, he’d take his chances with Gradkowski instead of Jason Campbell. This is not to say Gradkowski is an elite quarterback, because that’s a laughable notion. But he played well at times when he was in Tampa Bay after Chris Simms ruptured his spleen in 2006 (Gradkowski failed to win the starting job in 2007). For now, though, Gradkowski is entrenched as Cable’s guy. As long as Cable is around.

5. Koa Misi, LB, Dolphins: Ikaika Alama-Francis was supposed to be the starter, but the night before the season opener, he caught some kind of illness and he’s been recovering ever since, losing 15-20 pounds in the process. Misi, the team’s second round Draft pick this year, has taken over his starting spot with consistent play and a smooth transition to the pro game. It was originally thought that Misi’s main objective would be as a situational pass-rusher – he was, after all, a defensive end in college – but he’s proven his worth as an every-down back with two sacks and a fumble recovery TD. In the meantime, he’s also Wally Pipp’d Alama-Francis.

4. Taylor Mays, S, 49ers: Mays so Wally Pipp’d former starter Michael Lewis that San Francisco released Lewis Monday, the day after Mays’ huge game against Atlanta. Mays had taken Lewis’ starting job already, and it sounds like Lewis asked for his release, but still, that’s pretty impressive for a rookie. Mays, in case you didn’t see it, had a phenomenal touchdown (both feet down!) after a punt block to give San Francisco a 14-0 lead. He also made 11 tackles.



3. John Carney, K, Saints: Carney, who will turn 65 later this year (I’m kidding, he’s 46), has returned once again to the NFL, and after making three kicks this past week, you have to wonder how much longer Garrett Hartley will stay on the roster – or why he’s on the roster at all at this point. Obviously, Carney isn’t the future kicker in this organization, and maybe the Saints are keeping Hartley around, because they’re hoping he can overcome what’s been a terrible start to the season for him. Otherwise, he’d already have been Pipp’d.

2. Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins:
Torain and Clinton Portis have split carries, but it seems that if this was the 100-meter dash at the Olympics, Torain would be Usain Bolt and Portis would be the other seven guys. Meaning Torain is pulling away and eventually will take Portis’ starting role. It could happen this week actually as Portis hurt his groin Sunday. Let me also briefly mention San Diego’s Mike Tolbert, who replaced first-round pick Ryan Mathews when he was injured and rushed for 255 combined yards the past three games (including a 100-yard performance Sunday when Mathews was in the game). But coach Norv Turner says he’s committed to keeping Mathews as the starter, so Tolbert doesn’t fit on this list all that well.

1. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns: It was supposed to be Montario Hardesty and Jerome Harrison running the ball in Cleveland. Hillis – who was traded from Denver in the Brady Quinn deal this past offseason – was supposed to be just an afterthought. Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs had never heard of the guy until he ripped off 180 total yards (144 on the ground, the most Baltimore has allowed in five years) against the Ravens. With Hardesty out with a season-ending injury and with Harrison failing to make an impression on the Cleveland coaching staff, Hillis has taken advantage, tying the league high with four touchdowns and averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Like Gehrig, it appears that Hillis has no future plans to give up his starting spot.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com