Colts vs Saints: Behind Enemy Lines
The Indianapolis Colts (3-3) host the New Orleans Saints (2-4) this Sunday. The Colts are looking to rebound from a disappointing loss to the Patriots while the Saints want to build on a big win against the Falcons.
We spoke with Who Dat Dish to get some inside information on this week’s opponent.
1. What has led to the 2-4 start for the Saints this season? It looks like the defense has been a mess, but is there more to the problem?
Inconsistencies on both sides of the ball have led to a bad start for the black and gold. When the offense has played well, the defense has faltered, and vice versa. Against the Falcons, it finally meshed with both sides playing well.
The problems on offense stem from a couple of things. The lack of protection for Drew Brees has led to him being sacked often. In the same breath, the receivers have not done a good job getting open. The loss against the Eagles was this team’s ‘rock bottom’ in my opinion. The losses to the Cardinals, Bucs, and Panthers were all close contests.
2. Just how bad is this season’s defense? The Saints are at the bottom of the league in just about every defensive category. Is it that bad or just woefully inconsistent?
Let’s start with what we’ve seen through several games. Rob Ryan’s squad has been primarily playing in zone coverage, and hasn’t been able to get enough of a pass rush with their front four. Tight ends have been fairly successful against the team, and they’ve not brought a lot of blitzing into the equation. It’s easy to look at a stat sheet and say, ‘wow, they’re bad’.
Nevermind the fact that key veterans like Jairus Byrd, Keenan Lewis, and Dannell Ellerbe have all been injured. In turn, that means that a lot of younger players are playing. Sure, it sounds bad because rookies being asked to produce so early usually spells disaster.
However, there’s encouraging things from the youngsters like Hau’oli Kikaha, Stephone Anthony, and Damian Swann. I firmly believe that this defense is finding their groove, and will only get better.
3. Do Drew Brees and Sean Payton still have what it takes for this team to be successful? We’ve seen a number of stories this year about how it is time to move on from one or both of the duo, is that what it feels like to you?
A lot of people writing this stuff are completely misguided, and truly don’t have a pulse on this team. It’s easy for me to defend this because I cover them, but living here locally…you simply don’t find this type of chatter with the local media. The national media wants you to believe that Payton has one foot out of the door (maybe both feet), and that Drew Brees is just washed up.
Neither is true right now. This duo still has a Top 10 offense (7th actually), and my only beef with Payton right now is the play-calling. I was very pleased with what I saw from the Atlanta game, and that was the type of effort we were expecting all season. Eventually, this regime will split, but what many fail to realize is that Sean Payton is in complete control of his team. For him to even contemplate moving on would involve a franchise paying him more money, and then giving him the absolute power there.
4. What needs to happen for the Saints to leave Indy with a win? Is there a player that really needs to step up this week?
Two things need to happen: Don’t let Andrew Luck find his groove and force turnovers.
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Andrew Luck is a smart quarterback, and there’s a tremendous amount of respect the Saints give him despite what statistics say. This isn’t a game you let Luck torch your secondary and really get his ‘swagger’ back.
The Colts play selection last week was very one-sided, throwing it 50 times as opposed to running it 23 times. That sounds very familiar to the Saints attack. Rob Ryan will need to plan for it accordingly.
As for players that need to step up this week, I’m leaning on new kicker Kai Forbath and rookie Damian Swann. Swann was cleared for duty after sustaining a concussion against the Eagles. With Keenan Lewis recovering from setbacks with hernia surgery, they’ll need Swann to step in and help isolate the talented Colts wide receivers.
As for Forbath, he finds himself as the next man up in the kicking game. If there’s been one consistent sore spot with the Saints, it’s been the lack of a reliable kicker. Forbath brings a career average of 87 percent to the table, and in a league where missed opportunities can come back to haunt you, they can ill afford to leave points off the board.
5. What is your prediction for Sunday’s game? Who wins and why?
I originally picked the Colts back when I did my ranking the Saints games article before the season. I had this is as a ‘Top 5’ contest. It clearly has lost a lot of its steam, but still think this has the potential to be a good game. If the Saints team from last week’s victory over the Falcons show up, then I easily take them. They were able to control the line of scrimmage, keep Drew Brees upright, play strong defense, and not turn the ball over. That’s a recipe that almost always spells a win.