Keys to victory: Saints edition
Oh the Saints come marching in! Or should I say we go marching to them?!?! Either way when the Chargers get to the super dome they will be facing one of the all-time great quarterbacks in history for a second week in a row. This time however is against a more familiar face in Drew Brees who used to wear the Bolt himself. Last week I perfectly selected what the keys to the game were and they were working until the execution fell off in the second half. This week we will try to once again pin point the keys to the game and what it will take to pull off a win.
Slowing down Alvin Kamara:
As you will notice I said slow down Kamara and not stop. This is really because you can’t really stop a guy like Kamara you can just hope to contain him. The Chargers run defense has struggled the last couple of games. Mike Davis and Ronald Jones have had their way with them to be honest and that needs to be shored up. The best chance of stopping the run is with a linebacker alignment of Denzel Perryman in the middle, Kyzir White and Kenneth Murray as the outside linebackers. Everyone had kind of counted Denzel out prior to the season starting and he even started off on the bench for whatever apparent reason. About half way through week 2 they put him back in and he has done wonders for a run defense that was hemorging yards on the ground. The run defense still has its share of issues but Denzel helps to soften the blow. Last week Denzel graded out with a 92.9 overall defensive grade and has consistently been the best linebacker on the team so far and even has a 91 overall grade for the season thus far. While Kyzir and Murray are the ones more known for coverage it is actually Denzel who has graded best in the coverage department with a 91.7 last week and a 75.4 overall so far throughout the season. If Denzel can lay a few nice licks on Kamara early on then it is likely to make him hesitant as the gamer progresses.
Bounce back game for Casey Hayward:
Last week Hayward who is normally a very consistent player had a rough game against the Buc’s. In fact he only had a 59.7 overall grade against Mike Evans. Saints number one wide out Michael Thomas is out and so Hayward will be tasked with covering Tre’Quan Smith this week. While Smith is a good receiver he isn’t quit the level of competition that Evans presented last week even though they are different stylistic players. If Hayward has a bounce back game a can heavily limit Smith’s production then it leaves Brees to lean heavily on Emanuel Sanders who will face Desmond King and I have to say I really like the odds on that match up as King has been playing with a chip on his shoulder and a fire in his belly due to early lack of playing time. This could be a similar situation with Denzel without the public outcry. King had an 80.6 overall coverage grade last week with a 78.4 coverage grade so far on the year. So if the first key to the game works even remotely along with Hayward bouncing back then I like our chances against this offense.
Overcoming Injuries to the right side of the line:
For the second week in a row the offensive line will be without two of their big offseason upgrades. It feels more like the third game in a row without them as Bulaga left very early in one of the games. Trey Pipkins will fill in at right tackle again. Pipkins looks like the same player as he did last year despite the fact the rest of the line looks like they improved in at least some form or fashion under new offensive line coach James Capmen. Pipkins graded out with a 44.9 overall grade and just a 36.4 in the run blocking department. In fact in 173 snaps so far this year Pipkins grades out almost the same overall for the season as he did last week with a 44.1 grade. It is unclear if it will be Ryan Groy or Tyree St Louis who fills in at right guard. Both backups have had different areas of struggles. Groy has totaled 128 snaps for the season and has proven much better in the run blocking department with a 76.3 season grade to go along with a measly grade of 33.0 in pass protection. All the while Tyree St Louis is the exact opposite. St Louis had a 72.6 overall grade in pass protection during his small handful of snaps played while he only has a 40.2 overall season grade in the run blocking department. I would think the coaching staff will go with Groy over St Louis do to familiarity and the fact that coach Lynn wants a run heavy offense. They might want to consider mixing and matching the two based on situational football.