Redskins vs. Saints: How New Orleans Should Attack Washington

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistSeptember 6, 2012

NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 30: Aaron Kromer, interim head coach of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field after a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on August 30, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Wait, who's coaching the New Orleans Saints right now? I know Sean Payton and Joe Vitt are vacationing together on Bounty Punishment Island, which means the Saints are down to the third head coach on their depth chart. 

As a result, I'm going to make things a little easier on that poor interim-to-the-interim-head-coach by giving him three ways in which the team he temporarily controls should attack the Washington Redskins in Sunday's season opener at the Superdome.

Oh, and by the way, his name's Aaron Kromer. And yes, I did have to look that up.


Spread 'Em Out

The Saints should go with a lot of three-receiver sets with Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles acting as receiving options, forcing the Redskins' terrible secondary to stretch itself beyond its means. That'll make them vulnerable against a very good Washington pass rush, but Drew Brees is good enough to find the first open receiver (and there's likely to be several of them).

Cedric Griffin had an awful preseason, DeAngelo Hall is always vulnerable in coverage, Brandon Meriweather is hurt and Richard Crawford is a rookie. Beyond Josh Wilson, that defensive backfield is going to have a very difficult time trying to keep up with the Saints' talented trio of wide receivers: Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Devery Henderson.

The 'Skins simply don't have the personnel to keep up with Brees and his weapons. 


Overload Against the Right Side of the Line

The Redskins are in very good shape with Trent Williams, next to the very capable Kory Lichtensteiger, protecting Robert Griffin III's blind side. But the right side of the line is a very different scene.

Regular (bad) right tackle Jammal Brown is hurt and has been replaced by (even worse) backup Tyler Polumbus. Right guard Chris Chester isn't a bad pass-blocker for a guard, but he's still a sub-par player overall.

Thus, it would be smart for the Saints to take full advantage of that lack of balance by focusing the blitz on those gaps. Polumbus is likely to get lots of help, but Chris Cooley and Tim Hightower are gone now, and guys like Fred Davis, Evan Royster and Alfred Morris aren't as good in blitz pickup.

The key here is to fluster Griffin. If he's given enough time, he'll make this slightly shorthanded defense pay. But if he's hurried, it'll make it extra difficult for him to get comfortable in what is already a very uncomfortable environment. 


Let Them Make Mistakes

The Redskins had a minus-14 turnover differential last year. I know a lot of that was on Rex Grossman, but RG3 should be prone to miscues in his debut, too. So while I believe the Saints should focus their blitzes on one spot, they'd be smart to ease up more often than they typically did during the Gregg Williams era.

This pass rush struggles when they don't blitz, but the Washington line will give them opportunities, and Griffin will eventually make them pay if they send extra men too often. This Saints defense gave up more completions of 40-plus yards than any team in the league last year, and RG3 throws a special deep ball.

The Saints need to stay disciplined defensively, picking their spots and letting the turnover battle unfold organically. If that happens, they should come out on top.