In preparing to call this game, I've tried to find a way to anticipate how New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will defend Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Monday night. In 2007, Williams ran the Redskins' defense, and the Skins faced the Patriots. He did not opt to blitz. He played primarily a two-deep zone, some man coverage underneath with two deep and just a few single-lurk coverages, with a safety coming down to take WR Wes Welker out of those inside routes. But Brady ripped the Redskins apart. He identified whatever they threw at him using an effective audible system.
For Monday's game, you would think Williams has to go another way. But because the Saints' secondary is so depleted, he may have to go again with a high percentage of two deep, five under with a four-man rush. The Saints will shuffle their roster right up to Monday as they check the health of Jabari Greer and others. They've also added Chris McAlister and Mike McKenzie this week.
It will be hard to blitz Brady or to play man-to-man. The Saints simply can't match up with Welker, Randy Moss, Julian Edelman, Kevin Faulk and the rest of the Patriots' offense. When healthy, the Saints are an aggressive, blitzing team. Williams is a creative designer of zone blitz schemes. But I think the state of his roster calls for a more conservative approach.
I think the Patriots will simply spread the Saints out. They will test the Saints and make them play their fourth- or fifth-best cornerback. With the Saints' signing street free agents on Tuesday to play Moss and Welker, I expect the Patriots to start four wide receivers in the first series.