After Further Review: Five takes from the tape of Saints vs. Seahawks
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Taysom Touchdowns
Taysom Hill’s performance for the ages was certainly worthy of an extended film study. In particular, the four touchdowns he was responsible for.
The Saints came out in 12 personnel with two tight ends, two receivers and a running back. Alvin Kamara was lined up behind Hill, while J.P. Holtz was lined up next to Hill. Pre-snap, Kamara motioned left then darted post-snap on a swing pattern. This completely removed linebacker Cody Barton from the box, who ran with Kamara. Hill gave a quick glance to Kamara’s direction then ran the quarterback power to his right behind Andrus Peat, pulling from left to right, and Holtz, who was running downhill from the backfield. Adam Trautman sealed the initial edge when #53 Boye Mafe took an inside angle. Once in the hole, Hill cut back about the six-yard line and found the end zone.
Hill’s second touchdown was a completely different formation and personnel grouping. This time the Saints went 11 personnel with three receivers, a tight end and a back. Pre-snap, Chris Olave came in motion in front of Hill then circled back behind him as the ball was snapped. The motion confused Seattle’s linebackers as they both bumped back too far to their left when they saw Olave reverse his field.
Post snap, it was almost too easy. Hill looked to his right towards Olave, then ran to his left. There were no pulling linemen. Instead, Dwayne Washington was his lead blocker and crushed safety Ryan Neal. McCoy and Peat double teamed Al Woods, while James Hurst shielded Uchenna, who took an inside angle off the edge. With the linebackers out of position from the motion, there was too much ground to make up. Hill was never touched in route to the end zone.
At some point, we all knew the Taysom pass was coming, and it finally happened in the third quarter. The Saints were in their 13 personnel of three tight ends, one back and one receiver. Holtz started out wide of Hill in the number three receiver position but at least three yards off the line of scrimmage. Kamara was split out wide nearest the sideline with Keith Kirkwood in the number two receiver slot next to him. On the right side, Trautman was lined up attached to the tackle on the line with Juwan Johnson next to him slightly off the line. Pre-snap, Holtz went in motion from left to right.
The pass play was a familiar one: all-go-special. In it Kamara , Trautman, Johnson and Holtz all ran vertical routes up the field, while Kirkwood ran a shallow cross. Trautman had the middle read, meaning if the safeties stayed split, he had to bend it inside to a post. If there was a middle safety, he would have stayed on the seam.
Post snap, the Seahawks stayed in cover two, thus Trautman correctly ran the post. The key to the play was simply that Seattle didn’t think he was throwing it. When Hill dropped back, both linebackers and both safeties were looking at Hill and not the receivers. All three of them were open, but Hill saw Trautman first and fired a dart for a touchdown.
This was a throwback of epic proportions. The Saints had no backs, three tight ends and two extra tackles, Lewis Kidd and Landon Young, all lined up tight with Hill in the shotgun. Knowing it was third and one and the Saints had no receivers, Seattle crowded the line.
Post snap, Cesar Ruiz pulled from right to left and provided the kickout block on the edge, while Holtz followed him in the alley. Hill did a nice job of not overrunning his blockers and patiently set up Holtz’s key block. Once at the line of scrimmage, everyone was blocked except Quadre Diggs, but it looked like Diggs lost Hill for a split second in the wash of all the bodies around him. Once Hill hit the hole, Diggs was too late and could only dive at his legs. Hill easily broke that attempt and was off to the races.
Take Two: Kamara comes up big
Alvin Kamara is a superstar and played like one Sunday. He finished his day with a very sneaky 103 rushing yards and 91 receiving yards.
On the ground, 12 of his 23 carries came on outside zone runs. His longest run of the day was 13 yards. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t feel like he’d surpassed 100 for the day. There were a lot of smaller-type gains as opposed to a big explosive carry.
Kamara’s explosive play came via screen pass late in the game. It was a thing of beauty that was perfectly called and perfectly executed. The Saint were in 11 personnel with Tre’Quan Smith, Keith Kirkwood and Marquez Callaway as the three receivers and Juwan Johnson as the tight end. They lined up in a two- by- two alignment with Kirkwood and Johnson to the left of the formation and Callaway and Smith to the right. It was second and long and the Seahawks had already blitzed in that scenario three times before. On those plays, Kamara stayed in to protect. Pete Carmichael was expecting blitz again, and he was right.
Post snap, Seattle sent both linebackers on a blitz. Kamara bluffed like he was picking them up but slipped past them. Andy Dalton timed the throw perfectly and dropped it over the defenders right before they closed on him. When Kamara caught the ball, six Seahawks defenders were behind the line of scrimmage. In front of him were four blockers: Kirkwood, Hurst, McCoy and Ruiz with just one defender to block. At about the 36-yard line, Kamara weaved toward the middle of the field, made one defender miss and ended up on the opposite sideline with Smith ahead of him blocking. He was finally run out of bounds at Seattle’s 26-yard line for a huge gain in the game.
Take Three: Dalton’s performance
After watching the tape, I came away feeling better about Dalton’s overall performance on Sunday. His final stat line was modest: 16/24, 187 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Though he wasn’t quite as pinpoint with his accuracy, he consistently made good decisions.
For the most part, Dalton stayed within himself and the offense had an overall efficient day. His only big mistake came on a bad throw not a bad decision. The Seahawks sent a zone blitz and were playing off man cover one on the back end. Dalton made the right read to locate Smith on the deep out but misfired too far inside and was picked off.
Early in the game, Dalton ran a play-action bootleg but was met by an unblocked defender at the top of his drop. He was able to step and navigate the pocket and found Johnson who released into the middle of the field after blocking. The Saints dialed up the post/over concept where they run a deep post on one side and a deep over on the other. Seattle had it covered, and Dalton wisely didn’t force a throw.
In all, Dalton was blitzed ten times. On those blitzes, Dalton completed seven passes with a touchdown and had a pivotal drop by Smith.
Take Four: Explosive touchdown breakdowns
The Saints defense was vulnerable to the big play all game long against the Seahawks. Smith connected on three touchdown passes for over 30 yards.
The first one came on the first drive. They lined up in a three by one alignment with a bunch formation to Smith’s right. Adebo, Justin Evans and Bradley Roby were in man cover one coverage. Metcalf ran an over and stopped in the middle of the field, Dee Eskridge ran vertical and Tyler Lockett ran a pivot route. Evans for whatever reason passed off the vertical route when he should have ran with Eskridge. Adebo ran with Metcalf, who was initially covered in the middle of field with Demario Davis there as the hole player. Roby was in good position on the pivot.
However, when Smith broke containment on the pass rush, Metcalf essentially hit a second route and raced to the open space on the sideline. Adebo crashed so hard on the initial route that Metcalf easily beat him. Smith threw a nice ball for the score.
The second touchdown right before halftime was completely inexcusable. The Saints actually had seven defensive backs on the field with Evans and J.T. Gray split wide about 25 yards downfield and Mathieu in the middle of the field about 15 yards from the line of scrimmage as an extra hole player but at a different depth. The Seahawks were in two-by -two alignment. Both inside receivers ran quick outs, while Lockett hit a deep post and Metcalf ran a deep corner route. Both players made their breaks simultaneously at the 15-yard line.
The Saints were in cover-two man, meaning man coverage on all the receivers with two safeties over the top. Both corners, Marshon Lattimore and Adebo played the proper trail technique expecting help over the top. The play busted when Gray bit hard on Lockett’s fake to the outside and gave up his inside leverage. This provided just the window Smith needed to drop a dime in the end zone.
On the third touchdown, the Seahawks were in their 12 personnel, two tight end set. The Saints countered with their base 4-3 alignment and had Kaden Elliss on the field, not another defensive back. Smith was under center and ran play action. The route concept was similar to the one that Dalton bypassed described above, but instead of an over route, the receiver cut it back to a corner route.
The Saints were once again in their cover two man coverage. Once again, the corners had the proper technique. The bust came when Tyrann Mathieu, who was in the proper position to help Adebo, moved to the outside where there were no players in the area. This provided another window for Smith, who once again connected with Lockett for a touchdown.
Take Five: Other Observations
- The Saints offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. In particular, Erik McCoy had a very good day run blocking.
- Evans misfit his gap on Kenneth Walker’s 69-yard touchdown run. He took the outside where Cam Jordan was when he should have been inside right where Walker ran.
- The Seahawks played primarily cover-one man coverage during the game with a few exceptions.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include the headline.
Copyright 2022 WVUE. All rights reserved.