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Drew Brees continues to click along at 40by Seth Galina on December 6, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images Brees is the quarterback master We are in the thick of it now. Late era Drew Brees has finally arrived. After an age 39 season where the quarterback looked like a 29 year old quarterback, Brees’ age 40 season has made him look like the 40 year old quarterback he is. At some point even the greats fall off the cliff. Peyton Manning’s last season saw him throw 17 interceptions in only 9 games and this year’s version of Tom Brady is making him look like a 50 year old. A major trait of late era Brees is how the deep passing attack has almost entirely left Brees’ game. Not only that, throws in the 10 to 20 yard range have dried up a bit as well. Yet, Brees and the Saints offense continues to move the football effectively through the air. The reason is Brees’ continued precision in quick game passing. You can make the argument that Brees is the best quick game thrower of all time. He’s just never wrong. His beautiful mind always leads him to the right receiver. His accuracy always puts the ball in that receivers hands. It’s truly uncanny. In the current climate where deep and intermediate passing (especially off play action) is the new football meta, this late era Brees is going against the grain with short dropbacks and elite timing. Brees has learned to manipulate his dropbacks to compensate for different receiver routes and, as I will show, different opponent leverages. For our control group, let’s start with one of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones’ dropbacks: interception #1 pic.twitter.com/2BXuJXZoIR— charles (ronald) mcdonald (@FourVerts) December 2, 2019 As we can see, the young kid likes to take a lot of hitch steps (those are the forward steps after the dropback is finished). This tends to throw off rhythm and, sometimes, accuracy. Here’s Aaron Rodgers and Josh Rosen talking about hitching the least amount possible: To throw the ball rhythmically, you want to fire the pass off at the end of your dropback or at most after one hitch. Brees is a master at this. You will rarely find him hitching more than once per play and can probably count on one hand how many times he does it per game. This nice corner route to Jared Cook is timed perfectly off one hitch. One of the Saints favorite pass concepts over the years has been their weakside option/choice concept. They’ve been working this concept to death this season as they have 3 different players able to run the “choice” route as part of the choice concept. Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and now Jared Cook. The route is run from the slot receiver or the running back coming out of the backfield. The route runner has 3 options: quick out route, quick in/slant route, quick hitch. The receiver is deciding his route based on where the defender plays him. If his man is inside, he breaks out. If he’s outside, he breaks in. If there is off coverage, he can just hitch up around 5 yards. It’s a quick hitting route that the Saints answer with against all coverages. Where Brees separates himself from the other quarterbacks is that he will change the timing of his dropback, based on what he sees the defense do right before the snap. It’s a level mastery that not many quarterbacks have. Most teams have this play in their arsenal but not many quarterbacks can execute it like this. Let’s look at 2 examples. First, against Carolina, the Saints are running the choice route with Jared Cook on the bottom of the screen. In order for Cook to effectively run the route, he must get close enough to the linebacker before breaking either inside or out. If he cuts his route too short without threatening the defender, it makes it easier for the defender to close on the route. Cook plants his foot to break inside on his 5th step. Brees matches Cook’s departure by taking a normal 3 step dropback and then hitching to find the tight end over the middle. Contrast to this same concept against Atlanta one game later: It’s the same concept with the outside receiver pulling off the deep coverage and the slot getting the option route inside. The difference is, because Michael Thomas’ defender is in a press alignment, Thomas is already close to the defender. The receiver just needs to gain inside leverage immediately instead of working up the field. In about half the steps of Jared Cook, he’s gained the inside. Now, Brees must change his dropback so he can throw to Thomas when the receiver is at the maximum amount of separation. The quarterback takes what I call a “quick 3 step” meaning he won’t crossover his feet like in the Panthers clip and then throws without hitching to Thomas. On time. On the money. When the receiver needs to take less steps, Brees takes less steps. Timing is everything. Sean Payton called the same play in the huddle to the weakside of the formation and even with different defensive alignments, the wily quarterback is able to still throw rhythmically. These are the subtle reasons why the Saints can continue to have success even with a signal caller on the wrong side of 40.
5 Questions for the Saints in Week 14by Chris Dunnells on December 6, 2019 at 2:00 pm
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports Here’s what I’m looking for Sunday. Welcome back to a new series piece for 2019. Before each game, I’ll point out the five questions I have for the team that I’ll be looking out for in the upcoming game. In Week 14, the New Orleans Saints are playing the San Francisco 49ers in a battle for NFC supremacy. Here are the biggest questions I have for the team: Can the Saints offensive line hold up? The San Francisco 49ers have one of the best defensive fronts in football, and the Saints will likely be without the entire left side of their offensive line for the second week in a row. Will they be up for the test after a full week of practice? Will Sean Payton stick with the run game? A talented defensive front might make you think you can’t attack San Francisco on the ground, but that’s not the case. Assuming Sean Payton is patient with the run game, the key to beating the 49ers might not be with Drew Brees, but rather Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. Will they clean up the penalties? The 2019 version of the New Orleans Saints offense can’t afford penalties to put them behind the chains. If this team wants to make a run of things, they will need to clean up the unnecessary holding and false start penalties which are killing drives on offense. Do we see more Taysom Hill? The 49ers seemed to struggle at times defending Lamar Jackson and the read option of the Baltimore Ravens. If Sean Payton watched the game, which you know he did, could we see more Taysom read option calls this week? Can the Saints run defense stand strong? The Saints have one of the best run defenses in the NFL, and the 49ers boast one of the NFL’s best rushing attacks. It could seem like a situation where the unstoppable force meets an immovable object, but the Saints will likely be without one of their better run-stopping linebackers in Kiko Alonso. Here’s to hoping Manti Te’o can catch back up to speed quickly. So those are the things I’m looking at in the game. What about you? What are you looking at specifically in this game? Something different? Tell me in the comments. Send me presents.
Cowboys vs. Bears: Thursday Night Football open threadby Wallace Delery on December 6, 2019 at 1:00 am
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports Two former NFC playoff teams clash in Chicago tonight! Join us here to discuss the game! The Chicago Bears host the Dallas Cowboys tonight in the Windy City. Both of these teams made the playoffs last season but are struggling this season, with only Dallas in control of a playoff spot this season. Will Dallas dominate the Bears defense? Can Chicago’s offense get anything going? Let’s tune in and find out! Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears Soldier Field - Chicago, Illinois Kickoff - 5:20pm PST / 7:20pm CST / 8:20pm EST Network - NFL Network and FOX Enjoy the game with the CSC family and join the thread below!
Saints vs 49ers Thursday Injury Report, Growing: Jason Vander Laan limitedby cajuncommando58 on December 5, 2019 at 11:14 pm
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Two more on today’s report. For the Saints the same three miss practice, LB Kiko Alonso (Thigh), LB A.J. Klein (Knee), and G Andrus Peat (Forearm). New on the report were TE Jason Vander Laan (Head) and G Will Clapp (Elbow) who along with T Terron Armstead (Knee) and FB Zach Line (Knee) were all limited. For the 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (Ribs) and DT Jullian Taylor (Knee) again did not practice. WR Dante Pettis (Knee) who missed practice on Wednesday was limited. Also limited were DE (Dee Ford (Quad/Hamstring), TE George Kittle (Knee/Ankle), CB Richard Sherman (Knee), and T Joe Staley (Finger). DT D.J. Jones (Ankle) who was limited yesterday was full.
NFL Picks Week 14: The Big Oneby Wallace Delery on December 5, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images Week 13 saw the Saints win their division and be the first team to clinch a playoff spot. In Week 14 the Saints have a chance to move closer to the NFC’s top seed. The New Orleans Saints host the San Francisco 49ers with an opportunity to stand firmly in control of home field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs for a second consecutive season. Now, the Niners come to town with an identical 10-2 record, but due to Seattle’s equal 10-2 record and the tiebreaker over them, San Francisco currently sits fifth in the NFC playoff seeding. No matter what the record or seeding, the hate Saints fans have for the Niners is always strong, and this marquee matchup has been circled on the calendar for quite some time now. This game will go a very long way in playoff seeding and team confidence going forward, not to mention the confidence of the fanbases involved. This is the big one, folks, the one we’ve waited for for a very long time. Let’s take a look at all of the crucial matchups in the league this week as we enter the final stretch of the 2019 NFL season. Last week I went 8-8 I told you so: Seahawks over Vikings! What do I know: Patriots over Texans? *** WEEK 14 Thursday, December 5th - Thursday Night Football Cowboys(6-6) at Bears(6-6) The NFC’s two most underachieving teams face off in the Disappointment Bowl. Everything points towards a 13-10 type defensive struggle in this matchup, but don't be surprised if this game flips that script and things go off the rails here. Dallas wins 33-30. Pick: Cowboys *** Sunday, December 8th - Early Games Panthers(5-7) at Falcons(3-9) Matt Ryan will climb himself out of the hole he was stiff-armed into on Thanksgiving and lead the Falcons to a win over the self-imploding Panthers. Atlanta wins 30-13. Pick: Falcons *** Colts(6-6) at Buccaneers(5-7) Jacoby Brissett will lead Indy to a win in Tampa, keeping his team in the playoff race. Indianapolis wins 25-22. Pick: Colts *** Dolphins(3-9) at Jets(4-8) Miami will have a big passing game against the Jets defense. Miami wins 20-12. Pick: Dolphins *** Lions(3-8-1) at Vikings(8-4) After their loss on Monday Night, Minnesota will rebound with a huge game against the Detroit defense. Minnesota wins 31-16. Pick: Vikings *** Broncos(4-8) at Texans(8-4) Houston keeps rolling along, with an easy win over Denver. Houston wins 29-7. Pick: Texans *** Ravens(10-2) at Bills(9-3) Buffalo’s defense has been great this season, but they will struggle against the red-hot Ravens. Baltimore wins 30-10. Pick: Ravens *** Bengals(1-11) at Browns(5-7) Cincy’s one-game win streak will be snapped here against Cleveland. Cleveland wins 26-23. Pick: Browns *** Redskins(3-9) at Packers(9-3) Green Bay will absolutely decimate Washington in Lambeau. Green Bay wins 42-12. Pick: Packers *** 49ers(10-2) at Saints(10-2) - Game of the Week The task ahead for the Saints defense is clear, they must do what they do best, and shut down the run. That task will be challenged by San Francisco’s second-ranked rushing attack, but the Saints are built for this challenge. Make the Niners one-dimensional and force the game onto the arm of Jimmy Garoppolo, the allow the pass rush to pin its ears back and feast like its Thanksgiving all over again. The task in front of the Saints offense stands a little more challenging as they face the NFL’s top-ranked defense. The right side of the Saints offensive line will have to hold their own against a huge challenge and they simply cannot afford to be a liability this week. San Francisco has been the top defensive unit for the better part of the season and it would be surprising to see them get torched in this game. Here’s the thing though, this season San Francisco has yet to face anything like they will this Sunday, a Super Bowl MVP/Hall of Fame quarterback along with a Super Bowl winning coach, armed with a league MVP contending wide receiver, and the most dangerous wild card in the NFL in the backfield. On top of this, there is the Superdome crowd, which should be at their most raucous and deafening level we've heard this season. This will be an all-out war, both teams knowing what is on the line in this game. Both teams have known for a while now that this would be their biggest non-divisional game of the season, considering the playoff implications. These teams and this game will not disappoint. This one will come down to the very end, and although it will not be good for our physical, mental, and emotional health, the Saints will pull through when it’s all said and done. Saints win 24-21. Pick: Saints *** Sunday, December 8th - Late Games Chargers(4-8) at Jaguars(4-8) Los Angeles has suffered catastrophic losses this season, but this won't be one of them. Los Angeles wins 29-20. Pick: Chargers *** Steelers(7-5) at Cardinals(3-8-1) Despite everything against them, Pittsburgh has remained alive in the Wild Card chase, and they will beat on the league’s worst defense in Arizona. Pittsburgh wins 28-17. Pick: Steelers *** Titans(7-5) at Raiders(6-6) Oakland may very well be the league’s streakiest team this season, and their losing streak surprisingly ends here against Tennessee. Oakland wins 21-13. Pick: Raiders *** Chiefs(8-4) at Patriots(10-2) These franchises have had some incredible matchups in recent years and this one will be no exception. Ultimately, KC’s suspect defense will let them down in the end. New England wins 38-36. Pick: Patriots *** Sunday Night Football Seahawks(10-2) at Rams(7-5) Seattle’s defense will completely take Todd Gurley and the Rams’ running game out of the game, turning this into a shootout, a shootout won by Russell Wilson. Seattle wins 30-26. Pick: Seahawks *** Monday, December 9th - Monday Night Football Giants(2-10) at Eagles(5-7) Philly is doing absolutely everything they can to take themselves out of the NFC East race, but they get a freebie here against the Giants. Philadelphia wins 25-21. Pick: Eagles *** There it is, Week 14 of the NFL season. The Saints have a chance to move closer to the NFC’s top seed while severely hurting a bitter rival! Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below!