Tommy Lawlor - Game Review (1 Viewer)


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Oct 15, 2006
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You saw his preview - here's his weekly review...


by Tommy Lawlor,

I hate Reggie Bush. There is something about green that reminds him that he was once a star at USC and it brings out the best in him. He's a little quicker, a little faster against us. I watch him a lot of the year and don't see the same guy. Against the Eagles that jerk remembers he's supposed to be good. Drives me nuts.

There is something about us that brings out the best in the Saints overall. They swept us in 2006 and played very well both times. We beat them in 2007, but even then it wasn't easy. They flat out kicked our butts yesterday, 48-22. The game was close for a while.

The score was 10-10 at the 2-minute warning. The defense had just sacked Drew Brees and forced a Saints punt. That is when everything started to come apart. DeSean fielded the punt at the 4-yard line. There were 2 block-in-the-back penalties on the play and we got the ball at our own 3. The blocking was sloppy on the next couple of runs. Kevin made a poor pass on the 3rd down play. Even a good punt by Rocca only put NO at midfield. They had a 2 play drive and scored a TD to take a 17-10 lead. That seemed to give them a lot of life.

The fumbled KOR to start the 2nd half was the fatal blow. Ellis Hobbs fumbled and the Saints turned that into a quick touchdown and got to play with an 11-point lead. I think the game really shifted at that moment. 24-13 felt like a huge deficit. Then Kolb threw a sloppy pass a couple of plays later and that set up another short TD. Suddenly the game that was so close was 31-13. They turned our mistakes into TDs. Game, set, and match.

I know a lot of people are upset today. The game was highly frustrating. It was a huge letdown after the season opener. I’m not down on the Eagles coaches or players. I don’t think substantially less of the team than I did a week ago. We got beat by a good team. We didn’t have our starting quarterback and compounded that by playing a very sloppy game. The players and coaches now have a couple of games to look at and figure out what is working and what isn’t. The goal is for us to win a SB. Peaking in September isn't required to do that.

I was happy about the effort. I never saw any let up. The players definitely got discouraged when the score went from 17-13 to 31-13 in a very short span. Our guys didn’t mail it in after that. Kolb and the offense kept firing. The defense played with a lot of emotion despite their struggles. That effort didn’t affect the scoreboard on Sunday, but it can carry over to other games. You want players who care. You want guys who play hard no matter what. The defense was playing their guts out trying to get the safety late in the game when it was meaningless. I think that kind of attitude is important. Remember the Black Knight in The Holy Grail? "Tis only a flesh wound. Come back you coward." (That's the way I felt watching the D in the 4th quarter yesterday.

The officiating was bad. We had pass rushers held a few times and got no calls. There was a play late in the game where Justice moved early. Kolb (and the rest of civilization) anticipated a flag. The refs did nothing and the play was a waste. McCoy had a legit fumble in the 1st half that the refs blew dead, saying he was down. Normally I'd be thankful, but Maclin recovered and would have easily run in for a TD. If they don't blow the whistle on that we go up 14-10 and have some weird momentum. I still don't know what happened with the Evans TD catch. His heel clearly looked out to me. I did think the Evans fumble deserved to be overturned. That was the right call.

Coaching / Strategy

Let's start with McDermott. I didn't like his strategy. He was very aggressive last week in facing the Panthers. He dialed that back this week. I think he expected the defensive line would play well enough to get some pressure on their own and he wanted the back seven to be free to cover. Neither group played well in either area. Brees had plenty of time to throw and Saints receivers consistently found holes in our coverage. We did mix in some blitzes, but didn’t have much success with them. No matter what we tried yesterday, it didn't work.

Brees has a QB rating over 100 against the blitz in the last few years. There is no guarantee that would have worked much better. I would have at least preferred to go down swinging. We sacked Drew a couple of times, but only hit him a couple of other times. You've got to get some hits on him.

As for the offense...Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg ran the most creative gameplan I’ve ever seen from an NFL team. I think they had a plan behind this strategy. Reid was bound to know that we would have to score points to beat the Saints. If you go back to A.J. Feeley starting as a young guy in 2002 it was the defense that won games. Feeley made some plays, but it was good defense and special teams that largely carried the team in his time as the starter. That mentality is normally good for when you have a backup quarterback playing. It wasn’t going to work against Brees and company. Reid knew that we’d likely need every offensive edge possible. He and Mornhinweg devised a complex gameplan that featured a lot of Wildcat looks and original plays. I give them a lot of credit for opening up the playbook.

I wasn’t completely happy with the way they did things, though. As long as Kolb was moving the ball within the conventional offense and the score remained close I thought the prudent thing to do was to remain somewhat basic. You only need to "manufacture” yards and points when the offense is struggling on its own. That wasn’t the case on Sunday. I think Reid was a little too anxious to try out some of the plays and that it took away from the offense at times. I wanted Kolb and the offensive players to get in a good rhythm as far as running, blocking, and executing plays. That couldn’t be easy with constant shifting of personnel and formations.

The special plays were very creative and generally well executed. I’m just a believer in the old saying that "you don’t fix what ain’t broke”. Kolb threw a beautiful touchdown to Jackson early in the game. We never threw another deep ball to Jackson. The Saints gave him a lot of attention with their defensive backs, but Jackson is one of the few guys in the league that is fast enough to outrun a double team. Put him in motion if you want to try and free him up. Get creative in that way, but use his speed on vertical pass routes.

I think the lack of a conventional rushing attack hurt us. I didn't count the base runs vs Wildcat runs. I'll see if I can go back and do that. My point about base runs is that they allow the OL & RBs to get in a rhythm and they also set up play-action passes. The Wildcat fakes set up other Wildcat plays, but don't have as much impact on the overall gameplan. Kolb was throwing well down the field. Why the heck weren't we going max-protect and running PA passes?

Andy showed what a brilliant offensive mind he's got. I just didn't think it was necessary.

* Reid made a good challenge on the Evans TD. I thought his heel clearly was on the sideline, but the refs saw something else and let the TD stand.



KOLB - Good game. Got sloppy at times and made some mistakes, but did well overall. Can you imagine if I told you last week that Kolb would throw for 391 yards and a pair of touchdowns? Not many people would have believed that. Kolb did make some mistakes, but they were due to lack of experience, not skill or talent. You can coach him up on the areas that need work. I was pleased with his pocket presence. He took some big hits, but still got the pass off and the ball was on target. He threw some passes away when it was clear no one was open. The one sack he took was a blitz up the middle where the defender was untouched. You just have to eat that ball, which Kolb did.

One area that many fans have worried about is Kolb’s arm strength and ability to throw the ball on intermediate or deep routes. I thought he did very well in this area. He threw an excellent ball on the long touchdown catch by DeSean Jackson. That pass was accurate and had some zip. Kolb threw a couple of good passes to Jason Avant in the middle of the field. He hit Brent Celek on a seam route for a good gain. We had 5 pass plays of longer than 20 yards. We had a couple more than went 19 yards. Kolb doesn’t have an elite arm, but he showed enough arm strength to run an NFL offense and make the defense cover the whole field.

I thought Kolb made good reads and accurate throws. He was comfortable running the offense. Some young quarterbacks look nervous and it shows in their play. Kolb did fine. Until we got to the red zone, that is. Kolb struggled down there. All of a sudden things get compressed and you have to be very precise. Reads have to be made quickly. Throws have to be on target. The quarterback also has to get the ball out quickly so as not to give defenders a chance to bat the ball down at the line of scrimmage or make a play on it near the receiver. Kolb was indecisive and his reads were slower than you’d like. These are typical mistakes from a young quarterback. The one touchdown that he threw in the red zone came on a fourth down play where Kolb scrambled and relied on his playmaking instincts. He saw Avant open in the back of the endzone and got him the ball.

* The TD pass to DeSean was a strike.
* Made a real good short bootleg pass to Celek. Waited for Brent to get free and put touch on the ball.
* Good pass over middle to McCoy just before he got planted by a blitzer
* Good pass to Celek on 3rd/7
* Made a poor throw to DeSean on 3rd/5 late in the half that forced us to punt. He would have had a ton of room to run on the play and we would have gotten at least to the 20 or 25 yd line, maybe more.
* Good read, throw to Avant on the final drive of the half got us 26 yards and helped lead to a FG.
* Threw a terrible pick on the first drive after halftime. The LB read the play all the way and Kevin should have seen him before making that throw.
* Threw behind Westy on a slant pass on 3rd down. A good throw gets us the 1st and might have been a big play if Westy could have slipped Vilma's tackle attempt. Pressure by the LDE is what led to the poor throw.
* Forced ball to Celek on final 3rd down play that Sharper picked off. Got greedy with using the TE.


WESTY - Looked good in the 1st half and then got old at halftime. Had 9 carries for 45 yards before the break and only had 4 rushes for 7 yds afterward. His ankle got hurt and that affected him. Without his burst the running plays weren't very effective. Caught 3 passes. Did pretty well in blitz pickup. Threw a pass out of the Wildcat down near the GL. The ball was a bit behind Weaver and fell incomplete.

MCCOY - Okay game. Fumbled after short catch over the middle. The refs ruled him down (we recovered anyway). This is 2 fumbles/non-fumbles in 2 weeks. That must stop. Shotgun draw worked well because of his burst. 2 good gains on 4th Qtr drive. Got 1st downs on both plays. Finished with 5 carries for 18 yards. Lost 4 on his final run or his stats would look a bit better.


WEAVER - Okay game. His blocking was up and down. Got used creatively because of the oddball looks we were giving the Saints. Westy threw a pass to him near the GL. Weaver got his hands on the ball, but his momentum was going forward and the ball was behind him. Just couldn't quite make the grab.


CELEK - Great game. 8-104. Big catch on 3rd/7. Caught the ball 5 yards downfield and then fought for the final couple of yards. Great effort, toughness. Made a great adjustment to the ball on seam route in the 4th and got a gain of 26 on the play. He showed great awareness of where he needed to go to get a first down. He also was darn near impossible to tackle.

SMITH - Played, but I didn't take any notes on him.


DESEAN - Good game. 4-104-1 as a receiver. Showed his speed and playmaking ability. The 71-yd TD was a thing of beauty. I would appreciate it if DeSean would hold the ball securely until he gets into the endzone. It isn't an accessory, dude. Hold onto the darn thing. Lined up as QB in the Wildcat several times. Had 3 carries for 15 yards.

CURTIS - Finished 3-44. 2 of the grabs came on the final drive of the half against soft coverage. Had a couple of deep balls thrown his way, but didn't have the speed to get either pass. Dropped an early throw, but it wasn't for much yardage. Doesn't have his usual burst. Needs to be careful or he'll lose his starting spot.

AVANT - Great game. Led WRs with 7 catches. One was a TD. Jason kept the chains moving all game long with clutch catches over the middle. Made one grab up high on a 3rd down pass. I love the way Avant attacks the ball. He doesn't just wait for it. He'll go up and get it. Had a couple of long catches (25, 26).

MACLIN - Played some this week. Had a catch on the first play of the game. Ran a good route, got open, and caught a pass for 6 yds. Caught a short pass in the 2nd Qtr. Looked crisp in the way he did things. Only had 2 catches for 12 yds, but I was impressed.


PETERS - Solid game. Didn't have as much impact on run plays because we ran some odd plays. Good block on 3rd down. Stuffed Will Smith to the inside on pass play. The DT decided to try and loop outside when Smith slammed into him. Peters saw that and shifted to the DT. Really caved in a DT when the Shovel pass came to his side. McCray cleanly beat him for a sack in the mid 4th. Great burst off the ball.

COLE - Solid game. Really caved in a DT in pass pro. Missed Vilma on a run play late in the half and he was able to tackle Westy for little gain. Looked solid in pass pro overall. Wasn't getting great push on inside runs.

JACKSON - Solid game. No bad snaps despite the fact he had 3 different people getting the ball from him. Good in pass pro. Got out to the 2nd level well. Didn't have any standout blocks, good or bad.

MAX - Started at RG. Got 1.5 blocks on Shovel pass where he pulled to the left side. Made a huge play on 3rd/GL. Saw a DL bat the ball and then start trying to catch hit. Max gave him a huge shove and that helped to cause the guy to drop the ball. We then got to kick a FG. Missed a block on a screen pass that led to hurried throw and incompletion. Got beaten by pass rusher late in the game. Showed his potential, but also looked sloppy for a guy with his experience.

JUSTICE - Solid game. Had a very good run block on McCray in the 1st Qtr. Actually got him off the ball. Had a poor block on 3rd down pass. Let the DE get inside of him and pressure Kolb, which led to an errant throw. Generally held his own in pass pro. Got some help from TEs and RBs. Still gives up the inside too easily, but he is a functional starting RT. I didn't think that would be the case about 6 months ago.



COLE - The only DL who gave them regular trouble. Had a sack early in the game. Got pressure a few times during the game, but nothing significant. Forced Brees to throw quickly on a pass in the late 3rd. Fell down on Bush's TD run after getting rid of blocker or he might have made the play. Finished with 2 tackles. Played hard, but didn't have the kind of impact I hoped for.

VA - Starting LDE. Actually had a good spin move early on. Didn't explode out of it, but showed he's making progress as a pass rusher. Most success came with bull rushes. Did get in Brees face a time or two. Lost contain on an End Around and let the receiver get outside. Has to be more disciplined. Helped on the INT. Started inside with the play fake, but then realized it was a pass and went outside. Wasn't going to let Brees be able to get to the outside cleanly and take his time. Got sealed by blocker on Bell's TD run early in the 3rd. Got "tackled" by the RT on a 4th Qtr pass play, but drew no flag. Had 3 tackles.

HOWARD - Quiet game. Got pressure on one 3rd down pass, but Brees already got rid of the ball. Didn't seem to play much.

PARKER - Solid game. Caused the Cole sack by jumping in the air and taking away Brees quick passing lane. Got a sack of his own late in the half. Just beat the RT and got to Brees as he was about to throw. The ball came out, but they recovered.

CLEMONS - Fast off the edge. Got held a couple of times by the RT, but couldn't draw a flag. One of the times it happened was late in the half. The RT held him and had a hand up in his facemask. The ref looked at it, but no flag. The whole stadium saw it. Huge non-call. The Saints should have been backed up inside their own 40. Instead Brees got extra time because of the hold and found Bush open on the sideline for a huge gain.

BABIN - Got to play. Got penetration on a late run play and disrupted it.


A comment about the DTs as a group. The Saints did a good job of blocking them and also using cutback runs to neutralize our guys. Bunk and Patt didn't get pushed around, but they weren't as effective as usual because of what the Saints did.

PATTERSON - Had 3 tackles. Did play a screen well. Got through a couple of blockers and just missed getting a TFL. Made a good tackle of Bell on a run to his side at the end of the 3rd Qtr.

BUNKLEY - Quiet game. Made a play against the run in the 4th Qtr. Hustled downfield to help on tackle of FB after short pass. Was in on 3 tackles.

LAWS - Got penetration early in the game on a pass play. That got my attention. I was hoping to see more of that, but it only happened the one time.

DIXON - Stuffed a RB on 1st/GL run. Used his strength to fight off block and grab the RB.


JORDAN - Solid game. Had 8 tackles, 2 TFLs and an INT. That's the kind of playmaking we need from a WLB. Beautiful INT. Got into the passing lane on 3rd/short. Batted the ball in the air and then grabbed it. Stuffed a lead blocker early on. Tackled well on pass plays over the middle. Struggled with Bush's speed out in space on a couple of pass plays. Thought he had good position, only to see Bush turn on the jets and get away from him. Made a poor tackle attempts on Evans on sideline TD catch. Didn't dive through his legs or wrap up. Got a TFL on a screen pass. Got a TFL on Bush late in the game for what appeared to be a safety. The refs gave him forward progress, though.

GOCONG - Okay game. Screwed up on a Bush run to the right . Chris had contain and just got caught leaning inside. That was enough for Reggie to get by him. Overran the play on Bush's TD run and left the backside open. Finished with a couple of tackles.

GAITHER - Uneven. Covered well. Held his own vs TEs in the middle of the field. Did not play the run well. Didn't make good reads. Didn't get off blocks. Didn't get to the ball. Missed a tackle of Bell when he did make a good read and shot upfield. Blitzed a couple of times. Lacked the speed to get much pressure. Had 5 tackles, but needed to come up bigger than that in this game.


S BROWN - Solid game. Big tackle on Colston on 3rd/GL. Beaten for a 38-yd gain on 3rd/11 by Henderson. Sheldon had great coverage and was even holding a bit. The pass was perfect and Devery made a great catch. Tackled Reggie for a loss late in 4th.

SAMUEL - Not a good game. Had a few passes come to his side of the field. Was part of a blown coverage on the first TD pass to Colston. Later had a horrible play on the short TD to Evans. Failed to keep Evans sealed and let him get to the sideline. Asante tripped over Jordan while trying to do something on the play. I'm not real sure what. Did make a good tackle of TE on 3rd down to force a punt. Didn't cover tightly or play the ball on passes that came to his side.

MmmBop - Okay game. Had TFL on Bush run early in the 2nd Qtr. Got beaten for a TD late in the half by Colston. Had tight coverage, but never saw the ball or made a play on it. Brees made a great throw and Colston made a very good catch.


MIKELL - Led the team in tackles with 10. Had a TFL on 2nd GL series of the game when he flew off the edge. He was part of the blown coverage on Colston's TD. Asante let Colston go. Q was watching Brees and not the receiver. I'm not sure who's to blame, but one of them screwed up. Made one critical mistake. Didn't close to the ball quickly enough on Bush's TD run. Q was outside on his own and had a clean shot at Reggie. Q was nervous about getting burned to the outside (like Jordan had been and like Deangelo did to him last week). Q waited half a second to make sure Bush was going straight upfield. He then tried to make the tackle, but wasn't there in time.

HARRIS - FS. Quiet game. Had one good tackle when he took down Shockey in the open field on a 3rd down pass play. Got JS down short of the sticks. Made a diving attempt to get Evans out on his TD catch. I thought he did, but the refs disagreed. Came up quickly and made a good tackle on Evans after short pass in the 3rd Qtr. The ball came loose and it was called a fumble, but unfortunately the refs reviewed it and ruled it an incompletion. Made a good tackle of Bush when they were pinned down by the GL. Got to blitz several times, but had no hits or serious pressure.



ROCCA - Up and down game. Hit some real boomers, but also had 2 shanks that hurt us.

AKERS - Had one touchback. A couple of his KOs only went to the 5 or so. Got run into on a FG. There was some question about roughing vs running into. The refs called running into the kicker and that was a good call. David put on an acting show to exaggerate the contact.

KOR ---

* Hobbs fumbled a KOR to start the 2nd half and it killed us. He later set up a score with a 63-yd return, but it didn't have the same impact.

PR ---

* The Saints limited D-Jax to 2 returns for 5 yds. Great job on their part.
* DeSean really screwed up when he caught that punt inside the 5. He's got to let that ball go.

MISC STs ---

* Sean Jones got to play this week. He made the most of his time on STs and had 3 tackles.
* Our blocking was lousy for most of the game. We've got to get better.
* Too many penalties. We lost valuable yards and field position because of dumb mistakes. Unacceptable.

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