The Saints had a plan coming into Sunday’s game: Make Carson Wentz beat them.
He obviously couldn’t.
We know the Saints’ plan because NBC Sports’ Peter King was embedded with Sean Payton and the Saints for their preparations Saturday night and he learned some fascinating things. One of the most fascinating things was how the Saints wanted the game to go.
Here’s an excerpt from King’s Football Morning in America:
And then, a bit of a surprise. “We want to put the game on [Eagles quarterback Carson] Wentz,” Payton said. Payton likes Wentz as a player, but his player-personnel analyst, Ryan Herman, gives him trends and numbers every week, and Payton tells the group two interesting ones about Wentz, from Herman: The Eagles are 1-11 when Wentz plays and they allow more than 26 points. And he’s 0-9 when he passes for between 308 and 364 yards, the point being if he does that, the Eagles likely won’t be running the ball well, and the Saints feel they can beat a one-dimensional offense.
Wentz had what was probably the worst game of his professional career Sunday in New Orleans, passing for 156 yards and three interceptions (see story).
If nothing else, this is proof to Doug Pederson to avoid being one-dimensional. His lack of commitment to the run game, at times, can play right into what the opposition wants. As far as Wentz, I’m sure this is true to some extent with most quarterbacks. Most teams would rather face a one-dimensional offense. But it’s still worth noting the Saints were comfortable seeing if Wentz could beat them.
The other telling part of King’s column was that the Saints wanted to attack Sidney Jones as he returned from a hamstring injury.
“Our emphasis in this game is to run at 22 [cornerback Sidney Jones],” Payton said. “He’s coming off a hamstring, and we don’t think he can hold up.”
They were right. On the Saints’ first play from scrimmage, they ran right at Jones. Mark Ingram ran through an arm-tackle attempt from Jones and scurried for a gain of 38 yards. The Saints also wanted to throw at Jones and they did.
Eventually, Jones might be a good player (I still think he will be), but Sunday, he was an inexperienced corner coming off a soft tissue injury. The Saints had a good plan to exploit him and, sure enough, Jones didn’t finish the game. He left with a hamstring injury again.
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