Saints Offensive Line Keeps Charging Ahead
By Greg Barber
The New Orleans Saints played a stellar game Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys. There were several great performances in this game, ranging from QB Drew Brees with 392 yards passing to a defense that held the Cowboys offense to 193 total yards. But the offensive line really stood out above the rest and was a big reason why the Saints offense marched to the tune of 625 yards of total offense and 40 first downs.
Initially, this story was going to be about the offensive line's subpar performances with pass protection and the running game, and what the Saints could possibly do to improve it.
After Sunday night, things changed because of their strong performance. This is not saying that all of their past issues have been miraculously solved, but what if they continue playing at a high level for the remainder of the season? How will they fare against some of the best defenses in the NFL? Let's take a look:
Scale: 1 (Easy Win) To 5 (Long Day At The Office)
The 49ers are one of four punishing defenses the Saints will face in these last seven games. The Saints have the ability to score on the 49ers defense as long as the offensive line can allow the offensive skill position players time to do their work. With LB Aldon Smith getting back into the swing of things, he adds another pass rushing element to the 49ers defense. Generally, the 49ers play a 3-4 defense, rushing four or five and dropping others in coverage. This may require the line to hold their blocks a little longer in the passing and running game, which may be easier said than done. Scale 3.5
The Panthers primarily play a 4-3 defense and the just like San Francisco, they will only rush four or five players. The Panthers like to mix it up with their pass rushing using defensive backs to get to the quarterback, so everyone's head has to be on a swivel. The key to beating this defense will be whether or not the Saints offensive line can control the Panthers dangerous front seven. If that happens, Brees will be able to expose their shaky secondary. Scale 4.0
Here is a defense with a strong secondary and a formidable front seven, but can be run on as proven in the past few weeks. Seattle's game against an average Atlanta Falcons offensive line does not quite prove that they are as stout as they looked in that contest. The Saints offensive line will not have a big struggle pass protecting, as the Seahawks seem to load up the box to try to stop the run, but they will still have their hands full in this game. Scale 3.3
The Saints will have a tough time against these savage defensive fronts because these defenses share some of the same traits. But as long as OG Jahari Evans is getting healthy and playing better, OT Zach Strief continues improving and the other members of the line are making progress, New Orleans will be able to execute against each of these tough defenses.