Thursday, January 6, 2011
Saints' defensive approach depends on QB
By Pat Yasinskas
It’s no secret New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams likes to blitz. The Saints used that tactic more than any team in the league in the 2010 regular season.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Saints blitzed on 49.5 percent of opponent dropbacks. The league average was 33.3 percent.
I wouldn’t look for Williams to change an approach that’s worked well for him. But he might have to adjust depending on who is playing quarterback for the Seahawks in Saturday’s playoff game.
In a Week 11 meeting of the teams (a New Orleans victory), the Saints were especially aggressive against veteran Matt Hasselbeck. In addition to using five pass rushers frequently, there were six plays where the Saints sent six or more pass rushers after Hasselbeck and he capitalized in those situations. Hasselbeck went 6 for 6 for 128 yards, a touchdown and a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
If Hasselbeck is healthy enough to play, the Saints might have to dial down the blitz a bit. But it might be a different story if backup Charlie Whitehurst gets the call. When facing six or more pass rushers this season, Whitehurst completed just 37.5 percent of his passes and averaged 1.9 yards per attempt.