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How the highly-touted Saints secondary came back to earth

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By Mike Triplett | ESPN Staff Writer

METAIRIE, La. -- The rise of the New Orleans Saints’ young secondary was one of the NFL’s most unlikely success stories last year.

Their Week 1 crash-and-burn on Sunday was even more startling.

Obviously they still have plenty of time to turn things around -- much like they did last season, when the Saints allowed more than 1,000 yards of offense during an 0-2 start before ranking second in the NFL in pass defense from Weeks 3-15.

But it sure did take a lot of wind out of their sails when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and aired it out on them, over and over again, in a 48-40 upset on Sunday.

Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns, including a 58-yarder, a 50-yarder and a 36-yarder. ...

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Saints-Bucs film review: New Orleans' defensive struggles need a fast fix

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Sean Payton did not need to defer to the tape after Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers.

The Saints coach knew right away that the secondary struggled more with technique and execution than coverage breaks, and the team did not generate much, if any, pass rush during the 48-40 loss. A review of the film only confirmed his immediate suspicions.

“Our pass-rush plan hurt us at times,” Payton said. “There were some pivotal moments where the quarterback was able to flush and do enough damage to earn a third-down or gain a first down. We struggled in coverage. Our technique wasn’t great.”

Only one of the big plays looks like an obvious coverage bust. Immediately after the play happened, many pointed at either cornerback Patrick Robinson or safety Vonn Bell for blowing the coverage that resulted in DeSean Jackson running free for a 58-yard touchdown on Tampa Bay’s opening drive. But it does not look like either of those players are the culprit.

Full Article -- Advocate

Versatile veteran Josh LeRibeus holds up well in spot start for Saints

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By Joel A. Erickson | The Advocate

Finding somebody who can step in for one of the five terrific members of the Saints offensive linemen was a priority this offseason after Senio Kelemete signed a deal to start with the Houston Texans.

Veteran Josh LeRibeus got the first chance on Sunday with Andrus Peat out of action.

LeRibeus held up well for an offensive line that allowed just one sack in 46 drop-backs by Drew Brees.

"Just give them a little more time for Peat to get healthy," LeRibeus said.

LeRibeus has been a good pickup for the Saints since New Orleans found him before the start of last season. A center during his five seasons in Washington, LeRibeus is capable of playing both in the middle and at guard, and he played 207 snaps on the offensive line last season. ...

Full Story - The Advocate

Saints get to work fixing technique issues after tough film study

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Amos Morale III, | The Times-Picayune

One day after their 48-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New Orleans Saints were back at their facility to access what went wrong.

"It wasn't a good tape," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "It was not a good film."

What exactly made the film so bad?

"We gave up 48 points," Saints linebacker Demario Davis said. "We didn't do anything right: technique, assignment, alignment, eyes, discipline ... it just wasn't a good performance. It wasn't good enough."

Payton was a bit more specific. ...

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Sean Payton: Alvin Kamara's career-high workload product of Saints 'throwing it more than we'd like'

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By Joel A. Erickson | The Advocate

The barrage of points Ryan Fitzpatrick hung on the Saints early in the season opener forced New Orleans to deviate from its plan on offense.

And as the plan changed, Alvin Kamara's workload rose.

Kamara took a career-high 52 snaps on offense in Sunday's 48-40 loss to Tampa Bay, almost 20 more than the 32.5 he averaged in the 14 games after the Saints traded away Adrian Peterson last season.

"I feel like he's in excellent shape," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "I thought he played exceptionally well yesterday, and yet it turned into one of those space-matchup games where we were throwing it more than we'd like."

Kamara, as usual, was brilliant despite the extended time, hauling in nine passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns, picking up 29 rushing yards and a touchdown on eight carries and adding a two-point conversion. ...

Full Story - The Advocate

Saints suddenly facing doubt after surprising upset

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AP | Fox Sports

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bad memories came flooding back to Saints coach Sean Payton after a fifth straight regular season opener ended in defeat.

It wasn’t just that the Saints lost, but how it happened.

An anemic pass rush and blown coverages helped an opposing quarterback look as spectacular as any point in his career as the Saints fell behind big. Prolific Saints QB Drew Brees orchestrated a frenetic rally to make it interesting, but ran out of time in a 48-40 loss.

“That’s the type of game we’ve played in years past as a .500 team,” Payton said, alluding to three straight 7-9 seasons from 2014-16 before the Saints returned to the playoffs with 11 wins in 2017. “We had way too many mistakes.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick, a 35-year-old journeyman in his 14th season — and who was signed in 2017 as a backup to 2015 first overall draft pick Jameis Winston — finished with a career-best 417 yards. It was only the second time he’d surpassed 400 yards in his career. Two of his four touchdowns went for 50 or more yards. He had eight completions of 20 or more yards. He also ran for a short touchdown and scrambled 12 yards on third-and-11 for a game-sealing first down with about two minutes left. ...

Full Story - Fox Sports

The N.F.L.’s New Tackling Rule: The Good, the Bad and the Confusing

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By Bill Pennington | New York Times

Welcome pro football fans to a new N.F.L.

Sunday, on the first full day of games in the 2018 season, there were surprises: Some of the most routine tackles, for example, are now penalties.

There were improvements: A reckless hit brought an immediate ejection.

And there was confusion: A new rule designed to curb the dangerous use of a player’s helmet was applied irregularly and did not prevent a scary injury.

It’s only one day. It will probably get better and you will likely get used to it.

You will also have no choice, because the N.F.L. is not turning back.

The new rules that went into effect in this season’s opening week are the first of perhaps many steps as the N.F.L. desperately tries to moderate the most hazardous collisions in an intentionally violent sport.

Full Story - New York Times

NFL Fans Are Furious With The League’s New ‘Body Weight’ Roughing The Passer Rule After A Series Of Questionable Calls In Week 1

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by Jorge Alonso |

The NFL’s new roughing the passer rule which prohibits defensive players from landing on a quarterback with their body weight has been universally panned since it debuted in the preseason.

The rule was put in place to prevent an injury similar to the one Aaron Rodgers suffered last season when Anthony Barr drove him into the ground after a tackle last season.

The NFL’s new roughing the passer rule which prohibits defensive players from landing on a quarterback with their body weight has been universally panned since it debuted in the preseason.

The rule was put in place to prevent an injury similar to the one Aaron Rodgers suffered last season when Anthony Barr drove him into the ground after a tackle last season. ...

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