Cleat Geeks

Saints Lose Week 1 Match-up 29-19 To Vikings

New season, same problems for the New Orleans Saints as they wanted to kick off their 2017 season at the Minnesota Vikings but suffered too many difficulties as they lost 29-19 on Monday Night Football. The Saints rebuilt their offense through the addition of Running Back Adrian Peterson but could not utilize him efficiently against the Vikings. The Minnesota Vikings restarted their first game of the season the same way that they started last season, with a huge win. The Vikings came out very efficiently and on point in every area of the game. Not much could be said for the New Orleans Saints.

Saint’s inability to score in the red zone

Throughout the game, the Saints offense was lacking that elite productivity they had last season where they were ranked 2nd in points per game (29.3) and 1st in passing yards per game (317). Part of the reason was the Vikings’ tremendous play on defense. The whole defensive unit for the Vikings played well in their roles. The Defensive Line pressured QB Drew Brees every play they could and quickly stuffed running holes made for Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram, and rookie Alvin Kamara. The Saints only rushed for 60 total yards against Minnesota’s defense.Image result for adrian peterson saints

The New Orleans Saints made some key additions to their offense through the off-season including the ground-breaking addition of future Hall of Fame Running Back Adrian Peterson. The Saints did not have Peterson much in a crowded backfield with Ingram and Kamara. Peterson rushed for 18 yards on 6 attempts while Ingram had 6 rushing attempts for 17 yards and Kamara had 7 rushing attempts. Despite the Vikings being ready to face Peterson for the first time since he was playing there, Adrian was eager as well but not given the chance to break out for New Orleans.

Overall, the New Orleans Saints were 4 for 11 on 3rd down conversions and 1 for 5 in red zone efficiency. Kicker Will Lutz was busy for the Saints as he was the leading scorer for New Orleans with 4 field goals and an extra point. Drew Brees threw for 291 yards on 27 completions (out of 37 attempts) and a touchdown to TE Colby Fleener with less than two minutes to go down by ten. The Defensive Backs for the Vikings did a tremendous job locking down the Saints’ Receiving corp ultimately shutting down Brees. Drew was frustrated in his some of his throws that could not be efficient enough to account for more 1st downs.

 

New Orleans’ defense had trouble adjusting to the Vikings offense

Image result for marshon lattimore saintsLast season, the Saints were 31st (second to last) in the league in points allowed per game (28.4) and 32nd (last) in passing yards allowed per game (273.8). This was due to the lack of talent and production at the Linebackers and Defensive Backs. This season, the Saints acquired a large number of talented underrated players like ILB Manti Te’o and LB A.J. Klein as well as the drafting of former Ohio State Buckeye CB Marshon Lattimore from the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Despite the newcomers making good plays, the Saints struggled as the Vikings read the zone coverages of the Defensive Backs and the formations of the defense at the beginning of the plays.

Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford made great audible play-calling that would easily break apart the Saints Defense and account for more yards. In one example, the Saints had a 4-3 defensive formation but with both Defensive Tackles at the 3-technique (outside of the Guards) which was easy for an inside run by rookie RB Dalvin Cook to get a 1st down against the Saints. New Orleans also had problems with the outside runs and getting off blocks to chase down and tackle the Running Backs. Minnesota averaged 7.5 yards per play as Bradford threw short efficient passes to his Receivers against the Saints’ Defensive Backs who continued to use zone coverages.

Vikings QB Sam Bradford and the Offensive Line dismantled the defense

Image result for new orleans saints vs new england patriots 2017With Bradford still the starting Quarterback for Minnesota, the Vikings put more trust in his play-calling and throws. Bradford threw for 346 yards on 27 completions (out of 32 attempts) for 3 touchdowns and averaged 10.8 yards per completion. Bradford had an incredible QBR of 95.2. He made great throws and read the Saints’ defensive coverages perfectly. WR Adam Thielen accounted for 9 receptions for 157 yards and WR Stefon Diggs accounted for 7 receptions for 93 yards for 2 touchdowns. Sam Bradford was voted as the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his tremendous performance against New Orleans.

Outside of Bradford, the biggest player (or group in this circumstance) is the Offensive Line as they were very efficient against a more experienced Saints D-Line. Each of the Vikings’ starting Offensive Line for the 2017-2018 season is a new starter outside last year’s squad that was inconsistent at best. With a new Line starting, there were certainly questions around this unit but it was something Minnesota would not have to worry about throughout the game. Not only did they perform decent enough to keep a progressive offense going but they created great running room for Dalvin Cook and gave Bradford as much time in the pocket as he needed. Minnesota outgained the Saints 470 to 344 in total yards because the Vikings had a more stable offense and Line.

 

New Orleans going forward after week 1

Image result for new orleans saints vs new england patriots 2017

The season won’t get easier for the New Orleans Saints as they must take a short week of practice playing from Monday night to a Sunday Afternoon game. Even worse, the Saints will be playing their first home against the New England Patriots (0-1), who had more time to prepare because they played last Thursday night. If Sam Bradford had himself a game based on reading the defensive coverages, it will be even more difficult for New Orleans to stop Patriots QB Tom Brady who excels in play reads. The Saints must fix their woes fast on offense mostly in their blocking and run game to account for more points and yards. Defensively, Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen may have to drop the zone coverage scheme and stick to man coverages against a talented Receiving corp including former Saint WR Brandin Cooks.

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