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Saints Week: The Run Defense

Reggie

Teams have underestimated the Saints running game all year, and they have paid dearly.  With that being said, I don’t think the Vikings will choose to abandon their year-long philosophy of stopping the run first as they approach the NFC Championship game. 

The Saints boast the 6th ranked running offense in the NFL while the Vikings are 2nd in stopping opposing running backs. 

The Saints have an array of weapons and do not shy away from using them in the running game.  A total of 11 players have carried the ball for the team in the regular season.  Pierre Thomas led the team with 793 yards and 6 touchdowns.  His 5.4 yards per carry is very respectable, but Reggie Bush has finally had a successful season and has bounced runs to the outside for an average of 5.6 yards per carry.  Mike Bell acts more like the bruiser for this team, and averages 3.8 yards per carry, but is most effective in short-yardage situations.

While the Vikings struggled to dominate like they used to in stopping the run after E.J. Henderson’s injury, the WilliamsWall has really stepped up their game.  I find it hard to believe that any of the Saints running backs will be able to gouge big yardage out of this defense.  Perhaps Reggie Bush outside of the tackles is the most dangerous, as then we would be relying on our safeties to make tackles in the open field.

Last week, the Saints torched the Cardinals and a big part of that was their ability to get yardage out of their running game.  They gained 171 yards, for a average of 5.0 yards per carry, and that includes the 3 kneel downs at the end. 

The Vikings, however, played against perhaps an even more dangerous running game in the Cowboys last week.  They only allowed a 3.7 yard average out of the Cowboys, and a big part of that was visible growth out of Jasper Brinkley and the gradual improvement of health out of Antoine Winfield.  The Vikings were able to force the Cowboys into numerous third and long situations by stopping the run, which is when the pass rush was able to maximize their abilities and force Romo to make poor choices.

While I have confidence that the Vikings will be able to shut down the Saints run, this is a team that is so dangerous in the passing game that you don’t know if that is really a good thing or not.  Regardless, forcing the Saints into third and long situations will serve this defense well and it all starts up front.

PLAYER TO WATCH:  In my opinion, if Ben Leber’s name didn’t make him sound like some nerdy science teacher, then he would have been in the Pro Bowl mix this year.  His play has been outstanding and his leadership has been noticeable since the departure of E.J. Henderson.  The Vikings have decided to keep Leber on the field in nickel situations instead of Jasper Brinkley, which allows him to see more snaps, and he has not disappointed.  Leber will be a key ingredient for the Vikings game plan to stop the run, and he will need to be “flying around the field” to keep Bush contained on the outside.  Watch for the underappreciated linebacker to be a star on Sunday.


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4 Responses to “Saints Week: The Run Defense”

  1. B. Grant says:

    One of the best ways to slow a pass rush is with the running game. This is something the Cowbuts totally lost sight of last Sunday. I would not be surprised to see the Saints come out running, especially with traps and draws. You must make a pass rusher think about the possiblity of a run.

  2. Purple Charlie says:

    Coach,
    Agreed, Not to change the subject, But I hope our Special team kicks away from Bush, Just remember last year, There is no way they could let that happen this year, Not against this years Saints…

  3. B. Grant says:

    Thats a good observation Charlie. A special teams TD could be the difference. We need to make them earn every thing they get.

  4. […] unknown wrote a very interesting post today.   Here’s a quick excerpt:Teams have underestimated the Saints running game all year, and they have paid dearly. With that being said, I don’t think the Vikings will choose to abandon their year-long philosophy of stopping the run first as they approach the NFC … […]

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