The (3-1) New Orleans Saints will be seeking to win their 4th straight game in a row in just a few short hours from now; when they host the visiting NFC rivals the (2-1) Washington Redskins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome tonight on ESPN Monday Night Football.
If the slightly-favored Saints are hoping to secure a much needed victory and remain in sole possession of 1st place in the NFC South Division over Carolina, then THESE 3 Saints players specifically need to “show up” and play well tonight against Washington.
RYAN RAMCZYK, OFFENSIVE RIGHT TACKLE
It goes without saying that with all of the “hype” surrounding Saints QB Drew Brees and his quest to break the League’s all-time passing yardage record tonight, that the tough and top-rated Redskins defense will be looking to change the narrative of tonight’s game by shutting down the 18-year veteran and future NFL Hall of Famer if they can.
Last year at the Superdome, the Redskins defense recorded 7 hits and 2 sacks against Brees at the Superdome. It was only the second time all season in 2017 that Brees was sacked multiple times in a game.
But despite the fact that they’re currently ranked as the #1 overall defense in the entire NFL while only yielding 278 total yards of offense per contest in the 3 games they’ve played thus far, the Redskins in tonight’s game will need to make the most out of their QB “hurries” and “pressures”, since they’re also ranked near the very bottom of the League with only 7 sacks total.
That includes their best pass rusher, hybrid defensive end / outside linebacker and 8th year NFL veteran (and perennial Pro Bowl selection) Ryan Kerrigan — who in spite of his otherwise stellar performance during Washington’s first 3 games in which he has graded well in terms of hurries and production, is still chasing his first sack of the season. Kerrigan has zero sacks and just one tackle, according to Pro Football Focus.
In tonight’s contest, Kerrigan will once again be matched-up one-on-one against 2nd year starting Saints offensive tackle right tackle Ryan Ramczyk; who as a rookie last season played well enough to fill in at both tackle positions; and in their contest at the Superdome last year, faced off with Kerrigan on multiple occasions.
Kerrigan tied his season highs in solo and total tackles (4 each) and recorded a sack in that game against Ramczyk; and in tonight’s contest they’ll likely be matched up once again — meaning that the young Saints O-Lineman will need to be on top of his game tonight against a Redskins defensive unit that will certainly be looking to ruin NOLA’s Brees Celebration.
MARSHON LATTIMORE AND KEN CRAWLEY, CORNERBACKS
Obviously if you’re reading this as a Saints fan, then you already know about the Saints defense’s struggles at the cornerback position thus far through the 4 games; in which the shell-shocked secondary has been exposed in blown pass coverage on several “big plays” that now has them ranked 30th overall in pass defense by giving up 311 yards per game.
That could allow Redskins QB Alex Smith — who has been a proverbial thorn in the side for the entire Saints franchise in the past several years — to open up the Washington offense, which has yet to score a second-half touchdown in three games.
Washington could be without their #2 wide receiver Josh Doctson tonight, who is still battling a heel injury, but it won’t really matter who the Redskins put out on the field; given that the Saints currently rank 31st and 32nd against the opposing top two wideouts, according to Football Outsiders.
Part of the Saints’ issues likely stems from the fact that they normally run a defensive scheme which employs the usage of a “single-high safety” (who is almost always 2nd year starter Marcus Williams), but which as a potential drawback means that it tends to favor the side of the field where an opponent’s wide receivers line up to one side to help with trips and bunch formations.
As an unintended consequence however, it often leaves the other side of the field exposed; since the other outside boundary cornerback is left all alone “on an island” on the other side of the field.
Which means essentially that if the Saints pass rush can’t get pressure on Smith tonight in these situations, it once again could see the New Orleans pass defense give up even more huge plays, assuming that Smith and the Redskins passing offense will likely target the isolated receiver on the other side.
And as a result, it means that both starting #1 and #2 CB’s Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley had better play well tonight — if they hope to help the Saints “scalp” the Skins…….