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Mid Iowa

What is amiss

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Are we ready for a "the sky is falling" post? Well, it's not, but....

Something is amiss with the New Orleans Saints defense, and not just the obvious things. It's pretty easy for all of us to see that we are giving up big plays, and big penalties, not to mention they clearly haven't run any tackling drills over the last 12 years, that's the obvious stuff. So what is it?

San Francisco played about as good as an offense can play, and they could barely keep up with the Saints offense.
Everybody knows the Saints offense essentially has 1 great receiver, and the rest are mediocre at best. Not to mention we lost our new tight end, Jared Cook, early in the game after some very serious contributions up to that point. That makes the job of our opposing defenses even easier, right? The San Francisco defense played incredibly well, yet the Saints could not be slowed down. Kudos to Payton, Brees, and that entire offense!!
 
That said, our defense played like hot garbage and lost the game.
 
Under circumstances like this, I typically turn to coaching. But maybe it's more than that, maybe it's mindset?
 
Follow me here:
We talked about how good our defensive line is. Well, we have the nine-year All-Pro in Cameron Jordan two has that leadership mentality. We have the new guys who are in lockstep with Jordan, which is encouraging, and we see him rubbing off on them, big time.
We are all gushing about Demario Davis, deservedly so, another pro bowl-caliber linebacker, and is clearly a leader of the linebacking corps, and co-leader of the defensive line to some extent. And we see people responding to him quite favorably, let alone the community.
 
Who is the leader of the secondary? And please don't say Marshon Lattimore. Sure, Lattimore is the best player in the secondary, but who is the leader? Who has that veteran skill set, that veteran mindset, that veteran leadership that rallies everybody else? Who is grabbing guys by the face when they're down or when they just got beat, saying "C'mon, boy!! You got this! We got this!!"? ...and if there is such a person, who is it, and why is there such a lack of response?
 
The schemes are mostly there. Dennis Allen is doing a fairly decent job scheming, but the secondary continually doesn't know what the heck they are doing. Missed assignments, miscommunication or straight up lack thereof, can't cover and can't track, poor footwork, tight hips, an overall failure to recognize the ball. Not to mention the fact that they keep trying to shoulder tackle the big guys.
 
Folks, we have a culture problem in that defensive secondary, and it will be our Achilles heel. If they play like that again, we will be lucky to get past the second round of the playoffs.
 
Your thoughts are more than welcome.

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I think our LB's being out was a big part of it why yesterday played out like it did. Alonso, and Klein aren't all-pros by any means, but they are better than what we had out there. It seemed like our LB's (minus Davis who is a beast) weren't working as well as a unit as they have much of the year. 

Eli Apple had some real rough moments again this week. Gardner-Johnson also made some bad rookie mistakes towards the end of the game with 2 costly penalties that kept the 49ers drive alive on 2 3rd down plays. He also gave up the long Kittle play on the final drive.

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3 hours ago, tyler735 said:

Eli Apple had some real rough moments again this week. Gardner-Johnson also made some bad rookie mistakes towards the end of the game with 2 costly penalties that kept the 49ers drive alive on 2 3rd down plays. He also gave up the long Kittle play on the final drive.

So who are these guys looking up to? Who is their inspiration?

Are they just playing to play? Or do they think Brees & company are so great that they don't need to be as focused as the other guys?
That's the thing, and that's what I am looking at as amiss.

I know the LB corps was a shell of itself, limiting the blitz. That doesn't make Apple unable defend the tight routes he defended earlier in the season.
That doesn't make Gardner-Johnson try to tackle the best TE in the league around his shoulder pads, or chose poor angles.

13 weeks in, and I don't know who the leader of our secondary is.

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2 hours ago, Mid Iowa said:

So who are these guys looking up to? Who is their inspiration?

Are they just playing to play? Or do they think Brees & company are so great that they don't need to be as focused as the other guys?
That's the thing, and that's what I am looking at as amiss.

I know the LB corps was a shell of itself, limiting the blitz. That doesn't make Apple unable defend the tight routes he defended earlier in the season.
That doesn't make Gardner-Johnson try to tackle the best TE in the league around his shoulder pads, or chose poor angles.

13 weeks in, and I don't know who the leader of our secondary is.

Yeah I get what you're saying. Apple's play as of late has been particularly concerning. Teams have clearly been targeting him. I don't know what the right answer is to fix this. Other than Apple just needs to play better, if not it may just have to be a next man up type situation and see if someone else can take hold of that CB spot. I'm not quite as frustrated by Gardner-Johnson as he is at least a rookie and some of these plays are unfortunately part of the learning curve, but he has shown some flashes as well of the type of player he can be for us. 

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I know I have trouble believing Marcus Williams is the highest graded safety on PFF.  I can't imagine anyone in our secondary being the highest rated anything. 

They just don't seem like a smart secondary to me.  I don't know if they are or not, but they haven't played like it lately.  I think a lot of their success has been aided by one of the best defensive lines in the league.  I hope I'm wrong about them, and it's just a rough stretch, but they've had too many rough stretches the past few years.  

I still think they can get hot and we can go on a run, but it's not encouraging right now.  I have no faith in this defense to stop any NFC team in the playoffs, and if we somehow get to the superbowl, Ravens or Chiefs are gonna throttle us.

With the way the team has been this year, I expect our offense to slump about the same time our defense gets hot.  We haven't played a complete game yet, and the season is nearly over.  I just don't understand a team that can only muster 9 points against a 1-7 falcons team, and drop 46 on the best defense in the league.  Can't have faith in this kind of erratic play.

 

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I think the issue with the secondary was the issue with the LBers and even DLine before. Coaching. That's the difference between the secondary unit and the other two. Remember how we spoke of dumb plays by the LBers? Ryan Nielsen and Mike Nolan came in, set the tone and the difference in night and day. Position coaches can make a world of difference I mean we've seen how dominant the D-line has played, but ask me how many times they've had bad games? How about the LBers and primarily Demario Davis? Coaching effects mentality as well as ability.

The secondary is another animal. I get it to an extent, but in my opinion a lot of the bad play is bad habits rather than ability. Apple not knowing what to do in zone coverage. Williams whiffing on coverage because he went for the pick. It's not disciplined play and it's costing us. The light switched off from the BYE and that's on coaching in my opinion. That's amiss in the secondary.

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That was worse than ugly though. I think the Niners had double digit plays of 20+ yards. Does that fall on players or bad scheming? 

Saints LBs are slow and not overly athletic. Niners abused them on the edges all day. Lot of big running gains to the outside.

How many times did the Niners run routes to the flats? I think it worked Every. Damn. Time. too. Again, slow LBs, but doesn't some of that fall on Allen? 

Then again, maybe Shanahan is just that good an offense coordinator? He did the same thing in Atlanta.

Saints D just looked lost and confused. The 4th and 2 play seemed obvious. Double Kittle (Vernon Davis flashbacks anyone?🙄), watch the flats (where they've been killing you), keep them up the middle. If they convert, so be it. Still a ways to go, and clock still ticking. 

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