Offensive film review of the Saints’ 38-27 win over the Jaguars. The defensive portion will be added this afternoon.
QUARTERBACK: 4 out of 4
You wouldn’t know Drew Brees was fighting through a foot injury on Sunday unless someone told you. He never appeared hobbled and only missed on a couple of throws, finishing with 412 yards and three touchdowns on 25-of-36 passing. … It didn’t appear the game plan was altered much to accommodate his ailment. He threw seven passes deep down the field, connecting on four of them. He got rid of the ball in an average of 2.3 seconds, which is a little faster than his season average of 2.5 seconds. That might have been by design, but it’s also possible his receivers were just getting open faster. It helped that he never really faced pressure. … Brees threw one of his more impressive passes of the season on Sunday. In the fourth quarter, he laced a pass just beyond the hand of linebacker Paul Posluszny and into the arms of Brandin Cooks, who was blanketed by a cornerback and a safety. The receiver deserves some extra points here for making an incredible catch.
RECEIVERS: 3 out of 4
Nice play design on Brandon Coleman’s first reception. Willie Snead motioned across the formation, which pulled Davon House over and left Coleman on a linebacker. He easily got off the coverage, found a seam in the zone coverage, and made a 21-yard reception. He should win that matchup every time. … Seemed like a gutsy call for Sean Payton to go for it on fourth-and-5 from the 48 on the opening drive, but Jacksonville took any fear out of the situation by botching coverage on the play. The Jaguars’ cornerbacks got mixed up in their assignments, doubling Snead on the left side of the field, which allowed Cooks to run free over the middle for a gain of 23. The Saints probably don’t go for it there if Tim Hightower hadn’t been left uncovered for a screen pass on third-and-14, which he turned up the field for a gain of 9. … Brandin Cooks’ 71-yard touchdown was only a matter of time. Jacksonville kept leaving him in one-on-one coverage with rookie corner Nick Marshall, who possesses 4.54 speed. When the safety dropped into the box before the snap, the Saints had the look they wanted. Brees looked off Cooks just long enough to keep the single-high safety in the middle of the field. … Hoomanwanui had a really nice block on the second drive when the Saints were backed up on their own goal line when he picked up a linebacker shooting a gap, which gave Hightower enough breathing room to get out of the end zone and through the hole for a gain of 2. Hoomanawanui also had an impressive touchdown grab, but his performance drops a little due to two holding calls. … Willie Snead was the exclusive wide receiver out of 13 personnel, which seems to be a change. The Saints only threw out of the grouping once. … Snead made a very nice adjustment on a deep pass in the fourth quarter for a gain of 36 yards. It was underthrown and could have been trouble had he not adjusted.
RUNNING BACKS: 3 out of 4
It’s odd seeing Travaris Cadet serve in the role envisioned for C.J. Spiller, and do so more effectively. Not that Spiller didn’t impact games, but Cadet managed to get more involved. On the first touchdown, he motioned out of a formation formation to the wide right, which pulled a cornerback over, and left Michael Hoomanawanui alone on a safety up the seam to make the catch. His best moment came in the third quarter when he put a linebacker on the turf with a double move to get open for a 44-yard touchdown reception. … Want to know why Sean Payton keeps a fullback on the roster even though the tight ends have basically taken over those blocking responsibilities? They often go uncovered in the passing game, which was the case when Johnson caught a screen on third down in the first quarter for a gain of 12 when the Saints were buried on the goal line. … This is easily the best game Hightower has had this season. In his first start, he was more getting the yards that were available to him. In this one, he was breaking tackles, dodging guys and picking up extra yards on his own. A good example of this game in the second quarter when he danced out of a tackle by John Cyprien and got up the field for a gain of 11. In the fourth quarter, on a gain of 16, the veteran running back ran through three tackles. … Hightower still has some work to do picking up blocks. There was a play in the fourth quarter when he whiffed on one and allowed Brees to get hit, which caused him to miss Johnson open in the flat. Hightower made up for it by scoring on the next play.
OFFENSIVE LINE: 3 out of 4
This was one of the better performances of the season by this group. Brees never really seemed to be under pressure, which was important considering his ailment, and the run blocking was strong. … It’s unclear if one pressure should go on Peat or not. On the first play of the second drive, the line blocked as if it was going to be a running play to the right side of the field. Peat did the same, which allowed a defensive end to slip behind him and pressure Brees on a bootleg. It looked like Peat considered stepping back to block him, but instead stuck with his assignment. This one probably goes on the scheme. Peat had a rookie moment on the sack of Brees. It appeared he got confused on the play and was spun around when a defender slipped behind him and dropped Brees. … Tim Lelito did a solid job in the running game, particularly on a 7-yard run by Hightower in the second quarter when he got in the second level and took out a linebacker to create a seam. He’s been hit or miss at times this season, which is why he was replaced in the starting lineup, but he’s shown a consistent ability to get down the field in the running game. … One of Max Unger’s his only real negatives, outside of a pressure allowed, came in the second quarter when he allowed defensive tackle Roy Miller to get off a block and start the chain of events that led to Hightower being dropped for a loss of a yard. One of his more positive moments came in the second quarter when he got down the field and laid just enough of a block on Hayes Pullard to allow Hightower to pick up 27 yards on a screen. … Terron Armstead deserves more credit. He’s having a very strong season and it’s clear he’s playing on a leg that is well less than 100 percent. The cameras caught him limping on the field several times. He did not allow any pressures against Jacksonville.
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