Bill Belichick was in a cheery mood during his press conference with the media on Wednesday morning. Coach Belichick went in-depth when discussing the New Orleans Saints' schemes on offenses.
When asked about the type of offense Sean Payton and the Saints run, Belichick said, "I think they're definitely a hard team to prepare for. He does a good job. He doesn't have a million plays, he's got a lot of very aggressive concepts and he does them a lot differently with a lot of different personnel groups -- different formations -- so it doesn't look the same, but it's the same concept, same type of attack, but it shows in a lot of different ways."
Belichick brought up the fact that the Saints do virtually everything offensively. They run the ball well inside and outside, and can attack the width of the field as much as they can the depth of the field. "They run vertical routes, they run deep seam routes, they run check-downs and screens, and those types of patterns too. You have to defend from sideline to sideline; you have to defend from the line of scrimmage really to pretty much the back end line. That's a lot of space defensively to account for but that's basically their attack."
Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas are two running backs to account for that have absolutely shredded defenses this season, combining for 240 yards on the ground and an extraordinary 54 catches, 474 yards, and three touchdowns in the air. As Belichick said, "its not all posts and bombs," Drew Brees can simply dump the ball off and a back can take it for 30 yards or more.
But that is not to discount star tight end Jimmy Graham, who was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for good reason. He is on pace for a historic 118 catches, 1897 yards, and 19 touchdowns; those numbers would come close to breaking All-Time receiving records. Belichick says Graham is a player that's big, fast, athletic, and has excellent ball skills.
So, how do teams try to stop him?
Belichick responded, "Everybody has tried everything." He explained, "Tried to jam him at the line, at times he's had linebackers on him, safeties on him, double covered him. Each team's kind of got some of their own matchups. But he's seen a lot of different coverages -- man, zone, in-and-out, short-and-deep, jam at the line of scrimmage -- he's seen all of it.
Have teams really tried everything? I mean...everything?
Two weeks ago the Patriots tried something unique when they had two linebackers jam Tony Gonzalez at the line of scrimmage when Atlanta Falcons were in the red zone. It was like the defense was defending a gunner on special teams, which is why Gonzalez was unsuccessful when defended that way. Perhaps, the Patriots will try to use that on Sunday, because nothing else has worked thus far when it comes to containing Jimmy Graham.
But the Patriots must keep in mind that the New Orleans Saints can score with just about everybody considering six different players have caught touchdowns from quarterback Drew Brees this season.
"You have to defend everything. That's hard," Belichick said. "You have to defend each guy and each part of the field, and it's a lot to defend."