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  • Saints have put it all together

    Saints have put it all together
    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/13/2009

    The Rams haven't topped 20 points in any game this season. And not even 20 will come close to cutting it against the high-flying New Orleans Saints, who average nearly twice that much (37.9) through eight games.

    "Drew (Brees) and his whole crew, they score so many points, and their offense is rolling so well, that we're going to have to keep up with them," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "I think it's one of those games where we know we're going to have to score more points."

    Easier said than done these days. Scoring against the Saints never used to be a problem. Teams used to throw on them all day. But the New Orleans defense that visits the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday has grown fangs in 2009.


    "The defense has been very impressive," said Rams fullback Mike Karney, a former Saint. "Obviously, there's changes they've made with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and some acquisitions they made in the secondary. They're playing very, very well. With a lot of confidence."

    The Saints' defensive revival starts with the hiring of Williams, not that he's a miracle worker. (See his work in Jacksonville, for example.) But after seeing his Saints get gouged by the read-and-react schemes of Williams' predecessor, Gary Gibbs, New Orleans coach Sean Payton offered $250,000 of his own salary to lure Williams to the Crescent City.

    The result has been a more aggressive approach, with more blitzing, multiple looks and tons of takeaways.

    "They have a lot of exotic blitz schemes, and they're able to get you in a lot of bad situations, which can create turnovers," running back Steven Jackson said. "(Darren) Sharper and those guys are ballhawkers. They're getting after the ball, so we have to protect the ball."

    The Saints already have 24 takeaways, which is a league high and two more than they produced all of last season.

    "They've found a way to teach a scheme where they're finishing plays," Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "When balls are in the air, they're getting interceptions. Same with fumbles. Their attacking style I think lends itself to that."

    Williams' gambling scheme occasionally leads to some big plays against the Saints. But the turnovers, and the points scored directly off turnovers, represent a big eraser. New Orleans already has scored seven defensive touchdowns. In comparison, the entire Rams team has scored only eight touchdowns this season.

    Sharper, the veteran free safety, has accounted for three of the Saints' defensive TDs on interception returns. Sharper, 34, got very little action in free agency last offseason after playing for Minnesota in 2008. The Saints signed him to a one-year deal for a modest $1.7 million. Given the freedom to freelance in Williams' system, Sharper has proved to be quite a free-agent bargain.

    Cornerback had been even more of a weakness for the Saints. But Tracy Porter, a second-round draft pick in '08 who missed the last 11 games of his rookie season with a dislocated wrist, has stayed healthy and improved by leaps and bounds.

    Looking to add a big corner, the Saints went after Ron Bartell hard in free agency. But Bartell re-upped with the Rams. Plan B for the Saints became Buffalo free agent Jabari Greer. At 5 feet 11, 180 pounds, Greer didn't fit what the Saints were looking for size-wise, but he has played very well. (He may miss Sunday's game with a groin injury.)

    "They like to play man coverage," Shurmur said.

    RAM-BLINGS

    RG Richie Incognito (foot) did not practice Thursday; Adam Goldberg will start in his place Sunday. ... The Saints' roster features former Rams C Nick Leckey, LB Scott Shanle and DT Anthony Hargrove. ... Former Missouri standout Chase Daniel is their No. 3 QB.
    :ramlogo:

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  • MauiRam
    Rams will face a rejuvenated Saints team ..
    by MauiRam
    BY JIM THOMAS Thursday, December 9, 2010 12:10 am


    Your offseason's a month shorter than most since you've been playing all the way into early February. And once the new season begins, there's a bull's-eye on your chest, because 31 other teams want to get where you've been.

    "We talked so much about that coming into the season," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "Everybody wants to accomplish what you accomplished less than a year ago. I think we knew coming into the season that we were going to get everybody's best performance, and that everybody would mark us on the calendar as kind of the team to beat until you prove otherwise."

    For the first couple of months of this season the Saints sure looked a little groggy. In 2009, the Saints started 13-0 en route to a 31-17 victory over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

    This season, the Saints lurched out to a 4-3 start that included losses to a couple of less-than-stellar foes in Arizona and Cleveland. By New Orleans standards, the league's most dynamic offense of a year ago had to huff-and-puff its way to points.

    But just in time for the Rams, Sunday's opponent in the Louisiana Superdome, the Saints have started humming on offense. The Saints (9-3) have won five consecutive games, and during the last four victories have averaged 33 points. (They averaged a modest 21 points in their first eight contests.)

    "We're running the ball a little bit more effectively than maybe earlier in the season and that's been a point of emphasis for us," coach Sean Payton said. "I think that's helped us."

    Actually, the Saints have run it a lot more effectively. Through eight games, New Orleans averaged 84.8 yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry on the ground. Over the last four contests? Try 126 yards per game and 4.8 yards a carry.

    This has happened even though Pierre Thomas has been sidelined since suffering an ankle injury in Game 3 against Atlanta. The University of Illinois product was full participation in Wednesday's practice and is expected to return against the Rams. Reggie Bush missed eight games with a fractured fibula. Since returning on Thanksgiving against Dallas, he has only 10 touches in two games.

    The player who has rescued the Saints' running game is unheralded Chris Ivory, an undrafted rookie from Tiffin (Ohio) University. When it was mentioned during a conference call that not many people had heard of Ivory, Brees quipped: "I hadn't heard of him either."

    Saints opponents are learning about him the hard way. Ivory has rushed for 636 yards and is averaging a robust 5.2 yards a carry. He is coming off a 117-yard, two-touchdown outing against Cincinnati.

    "He's doing great," Brees said. "Just a guy, and we have a lot of these guys, the undrafted...
    -12-09-2010, 12:42 AM
  • dgr828
    Beating the Saints will require 53 RAMS playing as ONE
    by dgr828
    The past few weeks has seen the New Orleans Saints fall behind early in ballgames. A very dangerous trend that the Saints were able to overcome against the Dolphins and Panthers. The Saints were challenged to a dogfight wth the Falcons on Monday Night, a few weeks ago, and still prevailed to stay undefeated with an (8-0) record, heading into Saint Louis to matchup with the RAMS.

    Surely, we can't expect the Saints to rest on their laurels and look pass the Rams (Week 10). The Saints most likely have learnt their lesson of not taking any team lightly and will come into the ED to try to make statement that says they're for real.

    Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Jeremy Shockey and Pierre Thomas are just a few of the Saints that will be leading the attack against the Rams. Defensively, the Saints have had their hands full stopping the run, going up against Miami's "Wildcat", Atlanta's Micheal "Burner" Turner and Carolina's DeAngelo Williams, all having huge rushing games against New Orleans only to have the Saints win, in the end.

    Will Steven Jackson also find success against a Saints defense that tends to be soft against the run?

    If JAX can pickup where he left off from the Lions game it would greatly enhance the Rams chances for success.

    When will MARC put together a meaningful, productive and crowd pleasing ballgame? What are we paying him for, Again?!

    Ofcourse, Its not all on Bulger....Does anyone have his back?
    Its time for the Rams offensive line to 'Chock their Blocks' and step up to protect their QB. AB, J-Smooth and the rest of the line have to be monsters in the trenches.

    The Rams young receivers, Keenan Burton and Donnie Avery should now consider themselves veterans and act accordingly, by running the right routes. Avery for one has to focus and cut down his tendencies for turning the ball over.

    A more balanced offense that's more open to the pass as well as the run, along with effiecent play calling will go a long way to help out Bulger & Crew against the Saints.

    Josh Brown, with the Rams woes in the redzone, will need to be 'Money' whenever called upon. Donnie Jones has seen his share of shanks as of late, he needs to come through as before with the big time punts.

    McMike and Daniel Fells could be the secret weapons at TE that Marc Bulger can use against New Orleans.

    The Rams defense has a major task on its hands going up against an explosive offense lead by Drew Brees.
    The Rams might want to think about becoming more physical or maybe a little bit nastier.

    Long, Little and Laurinaitis will have to lead the charge up front and up the middle, Bartell hopefully has taken time to sharpen his skills at the corners, and OJ must continue to be the Rams safety net in the defensive backfield.

    Last but not least, you don't...
    -11-14-2009, 11:53 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Round Two: Saints Marching In...Any Chance For Rams?
    by r8rh8rmike
    11.09.2009 1:53 pm
    Saints marching in … any chance for Rams?
    By Roger Hensley


    THE WATERCOOLER

    QUESTION: If the Rams are to have any chance against the 8-0 New Orleans Saints this weekend, what are the keys to the game plan?

    JIM THOMAS
    1. Ball control on offense, the Saints are a modest 19th in run defense.
    2. Takeaways on defense, easier said than done against Drew Brees.
    3. Something special on special teams, be it long returns, blocked kicks, etc.

    This is a challenge similar to what the Rams faced against Minnesota and Indianapolis — but New Orleans may be the most high-powered offense of the three.

    JEFF GORDON
    If the Rams can consistently throw the ball downfield to balance their offense, maintain time of possession and finish off scoring drives, they can stay in the game. But apparently this is an impossible task for this offense, so the Rams are doomed to a blowout loss. Even if the Saints turn the ball over again and again, they will win this game unless the Rams used their bye week to reinvent their offense.

    BRYAN BURWELL
    After seeing Carolina run up and down the field against the Saints, the run-oriented Rams certainly have a chance. If the Rams can stick to a Steven Jackson rushing attack and keep Drew Brees off the field, the home crowd could become a huge factor.

    KEVIN WHEELER (Host of “Sports Open Line” on KMOX)
    Call Tonya Harding and ask for some advice on how to “handle” competition? Lock the doors of the Dome just before the Saints arrive and lose the keys?

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Seriously, there is no way this game is competitive. None. The Saints are the highest-scoring team in the league averaging 38 points per game and the Rams are the lowest-scoring team in the league at just over 9 points per game. Heck, the Saints are 59 points better than the next highest-scoring team this season (Minnesota). The Rams have scored a total of 77 points as a point of reference.

    But wait, there’s more. The Saints are +129 when points scored are compared to points allowed and the Rams are -144. That’s a 273 point difference between these two teams over eight games. That’s a 34-point-per-game difference in case you were wondering.

    There is nothing the Rams can do to be competitive in this game. Nothing legal anyway.
    -11-09-2009, 08:28 PM
  • eldfan
    Rams prepare for a strong Brees
    by eldfan
    QUESTION: What must the Rams do to slow down Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints this weekend?

    JIM THOMAS

    Ball control by the Rams’ offense, like the 7 1/2-minute edge in time of possession they had Sunday in Arizona – or more. That’ll help but it won’t be enough given the quick-strike capabilities that the Saints possess. The Rams’ defense needs a big turnover game – maybe three or four or more. And Brees has thrown some INTs (16). And if ever the Rams were going to get a punt or kickoff return for a score, it would come in handy this week. Scoring 19 points won’t beat New Orleans.

    JEFF GORDON

    One, keep Brees off the field by actually running the football with some consistency and sustaining a ball-control offense. Two, take away the Saints running game – which won’t be easy with Na’il Diggs out for the year and the Rams lacking strong OLB play. Three, generate a consistent pass rush in the base defense to lessen the reliance on the blitz. Brees has seen it all, so the Rams will have to mix up their defenses. They won’t be able to blitz the Saints into submission liked they blitzed the Cardinals into submission.

    BRYAN BURWELL

    The Rams were able to stay competitive with New Orleans last year by winning time of possession. Barring some genius defensive game plan that will cover up the injuries in the secondary, keeping Brees off the field is the key.

    KEVIN WHEELER (Host of “Sports Open Line” on KMOX)

    Run the ball effectively all game long. The Saints pose matchup problems for most defenses because of their offensive depth and versatility, not to mention their Pro Bowl quarterback, so the best defense will be a consistent clock-chewing offense.

    On that note, it would help if the Rams jumped out to an early lead. If you fall behind the Saints you end up right where they want you, chasing your tail trying to keep up with them in an air-war when you’re outgunned. Staying within one score entering the 3rd and 4th quarters will be key. If you’re down double digits at the half and have to come out throwing, that plays right into Sean Payton’s hands.
    -12-07-2010, 01:50 PM
  • megas711
    The Saints losses
    by megas711
    Was hurricane Katrina just an excuse for the Saints terrible performance last year?
    -02-27-2006, 04:28 PM
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