The Patriots defense had a tough opening night against the Chiefs. Everything from run defense, zone defense, giving up the big play and the overall front 7 struggled mightily. But going into New Orleans on Sunday, the Patriots can gear up for the pass.
That isn’t a typo. The highest ranking the Saints have been in running the ball this decade is 27th out of 32. Bananas. For a team with a 63-50 record since 2010 and ample opportunities to run the ball in garbage time, these numbers are striking.
Last Monday, the Saints continued this trend. Despite having the most talent at running back over this time frame with future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram, and talented 3rd round rookie Alvin Kamara, Sean Payton and the Saints continued to throw with Drew Brees, even in the first half when it was close. The final results: 21 runs, 39 passes. Adrian Peterson, who was on the field for just 9 snaps, was clearly unhappy with the ratio.
For the Patriots, that kind of game plan would be welcome, with their strength being in the secondary and the Saints missing dangerous Willie Snead in the slot. In addition, the Saints lost both of their starting tackles in the opener and they are almost certain to miss the game. Right now, they are projected to start Ryan Ramczyk (rookie) at LT and Senio Kelemete (zero career starts at RT) at RT, huge dropoffs from Terron Armstead and Zach Strief.
To say that an away game against the Saints would be a good time for the defense to get back on track seems like a weird statement, but in this case, the particular matchups and offensive tendencies of New Orleans favors the Patriots. If the Saints continue their trend of putting the game in the hands of Drew Brees against the Patriots on Sunday, I expect a nice bounce back game for the defense.