Post game notes: Vikings-Saints

Let’s check out my game notes from the Saints 14-9 win over the Vikings down in New Orleans at the Superdome…

Game plan notes…

Favre: The Vikes’ QB made some big time throws last night down the seam, but where is the outside vertical passing game? Bernard Berrian was a no-show, as was Percy Harvin. Got to see Greg Camarillo late in the game on a Flat/ 7 route, but outside of that, this Minnesota offense is strictly a west coast team that relies on the running game and short to intermediate routes. The Vikings have to find a way to stretch the field and test CBs next week. Every offense needs to pick up explosive plays. Favre finished 15-27 for 171 yards with a TD and one INT.

Drew BreesICONBrees and the Saints had a unique game plan last night for the Vikings.

Payton’s offense: Not surprising to see the Saints spread the field and use multiple personnel groupings to start the game with the lack of depth in the Vikings secondary. We saw the stack looks; empty sets and QB Drew Brees get time to throw the football. A lot of combination routes. Reggie Bush became the primary back because of his dynamic ability out of the backfield. But, it changed in the second half. More of a base look from New Orleans and two-back runs (Power O, Lead, Lead Open) with Pierre Thomas as the feature back, finishing with a TD and 71 yards on 19 carries. Necessary to control the pace of the game and it also gives the Saints future opponents plenty to prepare for. When opposing defenses turn on the tape from last night’s game, they will see how multi-dimensional this team is from an offensive perspective.

Williams’ call sheet: Throughout the first half and into the third quarter, the Saints were a coverage team under Greg Williams. Saw a lot of Cover 2. But, Williams started to dial up pressure in the second half, leaning on his zone pressure schemes. Just like we talked about earlier this week on the chalkboard, the Saints will bring pressure and use their underneath defenders to as vertical hook players—where they can run underneath routes creating a matchup zone look.

The Vikings defense: We saw tonight why Leslie Frazier’s defense can play Tampa 2 as a core call and use their zone blitz schemes—because the Vikings tackle well as an entire defense. Force the ball to go underneath, make a tackle and get off of the field. Basically, take away the deep ball. This is very well coached defense.

Scheme talk…

Shiancoe: Let’s talk about the TD reception. Shiancoe ran the TE “shake” route (out and up) against the Saints’ Cover 2. The Mike Backer’s responsibility is to run the inside vertical seam. Bu,t when he settled his feet on the double move it created a hole in the defense. Great throw, great catch and a great call in that situation.

Reggie BushICONThe Saints' Reggie Bush.

RB “ghost” motion: Once the Saints started running the ball in the second half, we saw them bring their “Pony” personnel (2 tailbacks in the game) on the field. In doing that, they used “ghost” motion with Bush (motion into the backfield). It is a solid scheme, as it forcers the outside contain of the defense to play the fake reverse to Bush—limiting their ability to crash to the ball carrier.

Henderson’s TD: This is a great coaching point. The Saints aligned in an empty set and Devery Henderson ran the out route. But, when Brees stepped up into the pocket, he converted his route up the field—essentially running a “9” route. The CB is caught looking into the backfield and the Henderson now has him on his back hip.

Vilma’s INT: We talked about Williams’ zone blitz schemes above, and this is another example. The Mike Backer is counted in the protection scheme for the Vikings, but leaves at the snap as a zone dropper. Favre gets pressure off the edge and doesn’t account for Vilma running underneath the option route to Shiancoe.

Personnel notes…

Garrett Hartley, Saints: Can’t miss two field goals and leave points on the field. Don’t be surprised to see the Saints bring in kickers off the street for workouts this week. Hartley could be out of a job by next Sunday.

Adrian PetersonICONPeterson finished with 87-yards on 19 carries.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Still amazes me how hard he runs with the football. The Vikings opened up their entire playbook last night in the run game: the stretch, the zone, the 2-back power runs, etc. 19 carries for 87 yards.

Jared Allen, Vikings: Didn’t see much from Allen. New Orleans relied on LT Jermon Bushrod and used the RB to chip in certain situations. Bottom line: he wasn’t a factor.

Jabari Greer, Saints: Very quick feet in his backpedal and good coming out of his breaks. Plus, he can tackle. He can react to the ball in the flat and get the ball carrier on the ground.

Quick hits…

- As sloppy as the game might have looked, we didn’t see the amount of turnovers that are associated with the first game of the season.

- Give the Vikings’ secondary some credit. Those guys played hard and challenged routes. Tough to do with injuries and make-shift secondary against New Orleans.

- Malcolm Jenkins can be a player at safety for the Saints. Showed some hitting ability last night.

- Don’t usually see New Orleans miss on scoring opportunities. In the red zone, you have to score touchdowns.

Check back to the NFP tomorrow for the Bump and Run podcast where Joe Fortenbaugh and I will preview and pick winners for the rest of the Week One NFL action.

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