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Of Periscopes and Sitting Ducks: how to torpedo the New Orleans Saints

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The 1996 game Silent Hunter was so realistic I refused to start my career in 1941 because every other fuging torpedo I launched either failed to detonate or missed completely.

  • Pie 2

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I smell a low-key advertisement...

Philly, are you a publisher?


The 1996 game Silent Hunter was so realistic I refused to start my career in 1941 because every other fuging torpedo I launched either failed to detonate or missed completely.

omg i played the shiiiiiiit out of some silent hunter

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Here's an anecdotal history lesson. During World War Two submarine operations became a critical part of the U.S. Navy's operations in the Pacific Theater. When I was eleven I read a book written by the captain of the USS Barb, a guy named Eugene Fluckey who had bigger balls than anyone in the United States Navy or even modern human history. This guy revolutionized submarine warfare from a tactical aspect, inventing several effective convoy approaches, and managed to do it while pulling off several Mission Impossible level escapades, including landing an impromptu team of engineers onto the Japanese mainland and blowing up a train. On the Japanese mainland. And that's not even his most notorious feat. This is: one night the Barb and her plucky crew crept into a heavily-armed, high-security Japanese controlled harbor on the Chinese coast and discovered it was chock full of anchored ships. Sitting ducks, all of them.

To get in firing position they crept 26 miles inside the 20-fathom curve of the Chinese coast, which is an incredibly dangerous thing to do (they could've run aground, hit a mine, or been spotted) and proceeded to unleash fury on the anchored convoys. Fluckey emptied one torpedo tube after another, launching spreads of six, shifting a few degrees, firing again, and laying down the most awesome display of underwater firepower in the history of the world. It was a target-rich environment and all nine levels of hell emptied bowels of fire into that Chinese bay. Ammunition freighters blew up in technicolor mushroom clouds, troop ships split in half, searchlights split the sky, furious destroyers began depth-charging fish and whales and rocks and anything that looked like a shadow, and meanwhile Fluckey literally scraped along the bottom of the sound and kept firing. Target after target, completely unprotected, vanished in a column white water and a muffled boom. And then they set a world record for submarine escape speed at the time, surfacing and racing off into the night. All told Fluckey and the Barb destroyed 30 ships, an incredible feat for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.


I relate this tale because the utter chaos and explosive mayhem in that target-rich harbor was the first thing I thought of when I watched game film of the New Orleans Saints.





No, really, the Saints are horrible. They're 0-2, but they're actually somehow worse than their record indicates. They may actually be the worst team in the league. In fact, I am confident that if Mike Shula can exploit some of the glaring weaknesses in Rob Ryan's defense we could see a four-quarter, 40+ point drubbing up and down the field in our most dominant performance since ...well, since the last time we played the Saints. Here's a few reasons why.


1) No one on the Saints defense knows their assignments. Sean Payton isn't getting in yelling matches with Rob Ryan for no reason. That defense is completely unprepared and has been for two weeks in a row. It's a combination of talent and scheme and it's allowing teams to do whatever they want. Check out the third play from scrimmage against the Arizona Cardinals in week one. The Cardinals are running a 4WR set against what looks to be the Saints nickel defense. What happens?






Do you see what I see here? Everyone's open. Everyone. The ball is already out at this point, so the coverage isn't quite as bad as it looks, but the corners played off and both outside hitches and curls were open, Fitzgerald was wide open on the fade, and of course the slot receiver (near the 50-yard line) was wide open between the linebackers and safeties, all of whom completely froze. The result was an 18-yard gain en route to an opening-drive touchdown. This is just one play but it happened all day in this game.


2) The Saints' starting safeties are subpar. In this case, "subpar" is a euphemism for "worse diagnostic skills than a potted plant." They're thin at the position with Byrd down and offensive coordinators have found ways to isolate their backups over and over again. It's always a good matchup for the offense. I don't know why they're letting Jamarca Sanford see the field at strong safety, but between him and Kenny Phillips at free safety it's a lunch buffet for quarterbacks. They play deep, way deep, so scared to leave underperforming cornerbacks alone on deep routes that they constantly allow completions underneath. Take a look at this second-quarter play on third down:





In the above frame the Cardinals empty the backfield. This play is designed to get Larry Fitzgerald the ball - the receivers run a clear-out pattern against the defense, keeping backs deep and leaving Fitzgerald in a zone by himself. Watch what happens:





Once again it seems like everyone's wide open. Credit great scheming by Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin to get guys in zone holes, bound to be there since nobody on the Saints defense can cover man-to-man. And, of course, credit poor safety play (the strong safety has his man, but the free safety is in cover zero right now) and atrocious linebacking play. First down, Cardinals (they scored on this drive too.)


3) The Saints may have the worst linebacking corps in the NFL. Picture Mel Gibson's friend beating the primae noctis knight with a mace and that's what happens to middle linebacker Stephone Anthony every single snap (see: awful coverage in the above frames.) OLB David Hawthorne is serviceable but not much better than that. In fairness to them they're playing behind a declawed pass rush and in front of terrible safeties, so they've got a lot on their shoulders, but check out this running play in the third quarter.





Nothing spectacular here, just a standard single-back set, running to the left between the guard and tackle. The right guard pulls to help out in blocking. Look what happens:





This snapshot is taken right as the running back (Chris Johnson) reaches the line of scrimmage. The left guard and left tackle do a great job of controlling the point of attack, but the linebackers should be cleaning this up. Instead rookie OLB Hau'oli Kikaha gets blown up while the MLB gets sucked in and completely misses the gap. Brandon Browner (who has looked absolutely awful so far himself) gets easily blocked out of the play, allowing Chris Johnson a 12-yeard pickup for a first down.


4) Without pro-bowl left guard Jahri Evans, the Saints offensive line consists of Max Unger and four clones of Byron Bell. The right side of that line is playing like the 2006 Oakland Raiders. The Saints have moved Tim Lelito to right guard in Evans's absence, and together with right tackle Zach Strief allowed the Buccaneers two sack/fumbles in addition to countless pressures and hits. I grabbed this snapshot of the second sack/fumble exactly one second after the ball was snapped:





This should look familiar to Panthers fans, as it could've been our team at this point last season. As we all know, the Saints went on to lose this game. Thank God for Michael Oher and Dave Gettleman.


Okay, let's sum all this up. Through two games we've established that there's a target rich environment on the field for offenses and defenses playing the New Orleans Saints. The Carolina Panthers are the USS Barb, sneaking into a harbor full of sluggish, impaired enemies and manning the torpedo tubes. Here are two key things they can do to drub the Saints for four quarters on Sunday:

1) Inform Charles Johnson to utilize the speed rush. Forget the bull rush and inside spin, just haul around the outside corner. Streif couldn't handle it all game, and the return of Star Lotulelei will leave Streif by himself most of the time. Big Money will get his. 

2) Run this play until they figure out how to stop it.





The above play takes advantage of two Saints weaknesses: OLB/Nickel, and safety. In this scheme Funchess is the Z at the top of the screen, Philly Brown is the X at the bottom, and Kevin Norwood is the Y, in the slot. When the Panthers interviewed Norwood they wanted him to run the spear route, which, incidentally, works beautifully with Philly Brown's skillset. Here the quarterback reads the right side of the field. If the linebacker (or nickel) drops back to cushion Philly Brown's curl (X) then Cam hits Norwood (Y) underneath. If the linebacker (or nickel) drops down to cover the spear, then Cam hits X on the curl. The tight end splits both terrible safeties, demanding their attention and ensuring either the X or the Y will have advantageous matchups; if the safeties move down they're leaving Olsen unbracketed and Funchess streaking upfield on a deep curl against a single man.

Periscope up, boys and girls, we're scoring forty points. Bank it.





View full article

You had me at "WW2" and "Navy" and "Panthers", dear. <3


  • Pie 1

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Even with their OLine looking like a bunch of wannabe Byron Bells the OT they used the 13th overall pick on has been so terrible he can't even beat out these scrubs for playing time.

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I envy OP's available time in life.

i'm in grad school, work 50-80 hours a week, manage rental properties, and raise a 2-year-old. writing about the panthers is an enjoyable way for me to relieve enormous amounts of pressure, but establishing deadlines for myself by writing a weekly column has actually intensified things a little bit. i'm taking this thing seriously though, which is why i stayed up until 4am last night to finish the article, at the expense of a full night of sleep.

i admit i sure as hell miss the days when i was 11 and could read, re-read, and re-re-read books like thunder below.

  • Pie 3

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For half a second, I thought about going to Saints report to post this there, then I remembered that I hate going to Saints report and all of them are lurking on this far superior fan site any way.

i just registered for an account over there. i don't wanna use my troll account because i'd actually like to get a few of their opinions on the schematics i've laid out. they seem to have a pretty high opinion of the MLB and OLB i highlighted, so i'm interested to see if they've tracked things i haven't noticed or if they're just a bunch of dumb taints fans that think everyone on that team is a minor deity.

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