The Eagles aren’t the same team they were a year ago, but we at least expected them to keep the game somewhat close against the Saints last Sunday. Instead, they were embarrassed by a team that has looked simply unstoppable on offense in recent weeks.
How are you supposed to defend a team that not only has talent in every facet of the offense, but also has the scheme to go with it? Sean Payton knows how to deploy his many weapons as well as any coach in the league ever has.
Take New Orleans’ second touchdown of the game against the Eagles. Sean Payton called for Jet-Sweep action to the left with Alvin Kamara on a Mark Ingram run to the right. Kamara is someone you have to gameplan for as a defense. Payton knows this and often uses it to the team’s advantage. Watch how the defense reacted to Kamara’s motion. Keep an eye on the three circled defenders.
That was as easy of a 14-yard touchdown run as Mark Ingram will ever experience.
In the passing game, Philadelphia came into Sunday’s matchup seemingly with one focus – take away wide receiver Michael Thomas. They rolled safety help over top of Thomas or flat out double-teamed him numerous times. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Saints have other skill players that can win 1-on-1 matchups.
On the below play, watch Thomas’s man and the deep safety take away his shallow crosser. This left tight end Dan Arnold in a 1-on-1 matchup with no help over the top.
The extra attention given to Thomas all afternoon enabled rookie wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith to have a big game (10 receptions, 157 yards, 1 TD on 13 targets – the next closest Saints receiver had just 5 targets).
On the below play, you can see the deep safety rolling over top of Thomas, leaving Smith alone in a 1-on-1 matchup on the other side of the field.
Below you can see another great example. Watch the deep safety hunt up Thomas’s in-breaking route, leaving the middle wide open for Smith.
And just in case you didn’t believe us, here’s Drew Brees’ 4th-down TD pass to Alvin Kamara in the 4th quarter. We’ll give you one guess as to whether Thomas was doubled or not.
That’s a perfect throw by Brees. Which brings us to the last (but certainly not least) aspect of the Saints’ brilliant performance on Sunday – Drew Brees made some big-time throws. Sometimes Sean Payton manufactures schemes and route concepts that lead to wide open receivers. But other times, it’s Drew Brees that takes this offense to another level with his accuracy and ability to play the position at the highest possible level. Sunday against the Eagles was a great example of the latter.
Watch Brees make an absolutely perfect throw into a tiny window on the below touchdown pass.
This next play we already showed to you. We’ll focus on Brees from the end zone angle this time, though. The catch was great, but just as impressive was Brees’ ability to make an accurate throw downfield with green jerseys visibly closing in on him. He knew he would be taking a hit after delivering the ball.
This wasn’t just Brees throwing the ball up and letting his receiver make a play. He read the coverage, saw that the safety had vacated the middle of the field to help out on Thomas, and put the ball in a place where only his receiver could get to it – all with pass rushers closing in on him.
Even with the Eagles game-planning to take away Michael Thomas, they couldn’t stop him from making an impact. He still finished with 4 receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. That was largely due to Brees. He didn’t allow the double-coverage to deter him if he still thought Thomas had some sort of leverage on a few plays.
The Saints currently look like the best team in the league. It will be interesting to see how defenses try to counter their offensive attack in the final stretch of the regular season. So far, no one seems to have an answer.