Saints morning report: Awesome ain't easy

September, 18, 2013
9/18/13
9:20
AM ET
As with all of our NFL Nation team pages, you can start your day here with a morning take on the New Orleans Saints. I’ll probably tinker with the format as we go, but it will likely include some combination of links to Saints stories around the Web, answers to your questions on Twitter, standout statistics or leftover notebook items.

Today’s lead item is an easy choice, though. The NFL Films special on former Saint Steve Gleason, which debuted Tuesday night on the NFL Network, was outstanding. If you missed it, you can check it out here on the Saints’ team site.

Gleason is such an amazing person, having turned his ALS diagnosis into a mission to make a difference in this world. And just as remarkable are people like his wife, Michel, former teammate Scott Fujita and friends Blair Casey and Rick Crozier, among others who have joined in that mission. As Team Gleason likes to say, “Awesome Ain’t Easy” -- which they proved during their ascent up Machu Picchu.

As the sharp-witted Gleason joked while live-tweeting using only his eyes and state-of-the-art technology for ALS patients:

“It takes 5-6 hours for ordinary hikers. We are extraordinary. 11 hours.”

Check out Gleason’s Twitter timeline for more self-deprecating humor and inspiration.

" Also worth checking out Tuesday, as always, was Larry Holder’s film study for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Lots of specific detail about what went right and wrong for the Saints in their 16-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The play-by-play breakdown emphasized a point I took away from Sunday’s game -- that the Saints’ offensive linemen very rarely got “beat” in individual matchups against pass-rushers. But they did fail to adjust to several delayed blitzes and stunts by the Tampa Bay front that allowed free rushers to deliver too many big hits on Drew Brees.

Is that better or worse? I’m not exactly sure. But it’s something the Saints will be better prepared to handle the next time they face the Bucs or a similar approach from other teams. I asked right tackle Zach Strief about it recently.

“When you watch the tape, you don’t see guys necessarily getting beat, you see guys getting loose. Not even sometimes on the first game, but on the second,” Strief said. “They do a good job of movement and you see some tough looks. They really force you to be fundamentally sound, which we weren’t all the time.”

Meanwhile, the Saints’ line was even more inconsistent with its run-blocking -- a problem that hasn’t been fixed yet from last season. I’ll have more on that this week, with a specific look at how much of the blame falls on tailback Mark Ingram and how much of the blame can be spread around to others.

" Last but not least, a stat from Pro Football Focus emphasizes just how good third-year Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan has been playing so far this year. Per PFF, no 3-4 defensive end has generated as much pressure as Jordan (12 quarterback disruptions). Houston’s J.J. Watt and Cleveland’s Desmond Bryant are tied for second with 10.

Mike Triplett

ESPN New Orleans Saints reporter

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