2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Saints offense struggling to meet lofty standards

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2013-11-07 19:47

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - Sean Payton has been back on the sideline calling plays for half a season now, and the record-setting offense he designed hasn't quite lived up to its usual standards.

The Saints' offense remains the envy of most of the NFL, ranking seventh in total yards and scoring. Drew Brees is on pace for a third straight 5,000-yard, 40-touchdown season, and ranks third in the NFL in passing.

Still, the Saints have struggled running the ball, and that has emboldened opponents to dial up more exotic blitzes, producing more sacks and hits on New Orleans' franchise quarterback.

Payton - who has had four No. 1 offenses and none worse than sixth in six previous seasons on the sideline - generally dismisses statistical comparisons between his 2013 offense and more productive units of years past. But that doesn't mean he's satisfied.

''There's a lot of things we're working to get better at, clean up,'' Payton said. ''There's always change. There's nothing given because of the year prior or the year prior to that. We're looking to improve each week to be efficient and understand the strengths of this team and what this team does well.''

When Payton reviewed video of the New Orleans' 26-20 road loss to the New York Jets last Sunday, he was struck by how few opportunities he gave the Saints' running game, even though it had shown promise that afternoon.

The Saints finished with 41 yards rushing, but ran the ball only 13 times out of 64 plays.

''It's just paying attention,'' Payton said as he criticized himself. ''The efficiency level we operated at last week when we ran it was pretty good, so that's something you look closely at and how the game is unfolding.''

Since Payton returned from his 2012 bounty suspension, he has stressed the importance of the running game. Yet New Orleans now ranks 26th in the league in rushing, averaging 79.8 yards, heading into its Week 10 clash with Dallas in the Superdome on Sunday night.

The Saints acknowledge that the lack of a credible running game has hurt their play-action passes because defenders are less likely to bite on fake handoffs.

Brees has been sacked 20 times, and as pressure on the offensive line has mounted, so have pre-snap and holding penalties, which, in a vicious cycle, have forced the Saints into more predictable passing situations.

''We've got to start from the beginning,'' running back Pierre Thomas said. ''Start with not jumping offsides, finding that smooth tempo, not having the delay of games and so many penalties. There's a lot of things we've got to fix on our side to get better and that's what we're doing.''

Brees said he is not so much concerned by the ranking in yards per game as scoring. The Saints' points-per-game ranking also is down from most previous seasons, when they were usually in the top five.

''You can have a bunch of yards but that doesn't necessarily lead to points,'' Brees said. ''Certainly it gives you chances, opportunities, but it doesn't guarantee it.''

Right tackle Zach Strief, who was part of Payton's first draft class in 2006, said no one on New Orleans' offense is pleased with the unit's production right now, even if it is better than most of the league.

''That's a product of expectations here,'' Strief said. ''There's nothing being said outside of here that we don't say in here. There's no more sense of urgency anywhere than in here. And if you don't think that linemen want to start running the ball better then you're crazy, because it is hard to go on the road and pass protect 55 times. It is not easy. That is the worse-case scenario for us.''

Notes: Three players missed practice Thursday: S Malcolm Jenkins (knee), LB Davis Hawthorne (toe) and DE Cameron Jordan (ankle). However, Jenkins said he has been able to run off to the side and is getting close to returning. ... Those listed as limited in practice were: WR Marques Colston (knee), RG Jahri Evans (hip) and TE Jimmy Graham (foot, elbow). ... Payton commented for the first time about his decision Wednesday to place LB Jonathan Vilma on injured reserve, ending his 10th season only three days after he returned from left knee surgery to play his first game of 2013. ''Obviously it is a difficult decision. He didn't have any setbacks. There is still some work to go in regards to his rehab,'' Payton said. ''Time will tell with respect to where he goes, where we go long-term. ... He has been one of the all-timers to coach now. He is a standup guy, a guy that prepares and a guy that takes everything he has done in the film room and brings it to the field.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

A.J. McCarronMay 25 10:37p

Cincinnati Bengals QB AJ McCarron (shoulder) is healthy and hoping to push QB Andy Dalton in 2015. 'We wanted him in our building so bad and it happened and [ More ]

Ray McDonaldMay 25 04:42p

Updating previous reports, Chicago Bears DE Ray McDonald has been released Monday, May 25, just hours after being arrested for alleged domestic violence and child endangerment.

Adrian PetersonMay 25 02:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson still wants to be traded, according to a source. Peterson intends to skip all organized team activities, which would cause him to lose $250,000 in workout bonuses.

Adrian PetersonMay 24 09:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has informed head coach Mike Zimmer that he will not attend the optional practices that begin Tuesday, May 26, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Tom BradyMay 22 04:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will have the appeal of his four-game suspension heard by commissioner Roger Goodell after the NFL rejected a motion by the NFL Players [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 22 03:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension has not been scheduled at this time.

Ray RiceMay 22 11:42a

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) could be a consideration for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, speculates The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota. He cites Cowboys owner and general [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 22 09:52a

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains in pursuit of being traded or receiving a new contract and remains away from the organization during voluntary workouts. [ More ]

William BeattyMay 21 12:02p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty (chest) underwent successful surgery Thursday, May 21, to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Beatty will need approximately five to six months of recovery time.

Derek CarrMay 20 10:23p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) will not need surgery on his injured finger and may be able to throw again before the end of offseason workouts, according to his agent.

Joseph RandleMay 20 09:23p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle is the most likely option to lead the team's running back by committee approach in 2015. Randle has the most experience in the system, [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:53p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty's (pectoral) torn pectoral will require surgery and Beatty's recovery time is expected to be around five months. Beatty suffered the [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:33p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) tore his pectoral while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source, and will undergo surgery. One [ More ]

Josh HillMay 20 03:23p

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is slated as the starting tight end this season with TE Jimmy Graham now in Seattle. TE Benjamin Watson could give Hill a run for his money, however.

William BeattyMay 20 03:13p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) suffered a potentially serious shoulder injury while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source. Surgery is a possibility.

Geno SmithMay 20 03:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith is the starting quarterback and will not see competition in training camp, according to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Tom BradyMay 20 03:03p

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal will not be affected by the team's decision to accept their sanctions. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants to [ More ]

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

Jimmy GaroppoloMay 17 08:42p

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo's quick decision making and accuracy fit well with New England's playbook that includes quick-rhythm passes as part of the foundation, and Bucky Brooks [ More ]

Zach HockerMay 17 04:42p

The New Orleans Saints have signed free-agent PK Zach Hocker (Dolphins).

Joseph RandleMay 16 07:32p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle has the skills to lead the team's backfield in 2015 but he'll need to work on his off-field issues, according to Jon Machota of [ More ]

Matt CasselMay 15 07:52p

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Cassel is likely to enter Week 1 of the season as the team's backup quarterback, in the opinion of The Buffalo News' Vic Carucci. He [ More ]

Santana MossMay 15 07:12p

Free-agent WR Santana Moss (Redskins) is not ready to hang up his cleats and retire this offseason. 'I'm a free agent right now, you know how they do [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group