Making adjustments at half-time. In the National Football League, it’s often times the most critical aspect of success; and for the past year and a half specifically on the defensive side of the football, no other NFL team has been making half-time adjustments effectively as New Orleans has.
After 13 games played in the current 2018 NFL Regular Season with 3 games still left to play, the Saints are the #1-ranked team in the entire League in 2nd-half scoring differential with a 17.1 average; which means that the Black and Gold is capable of making the necessary adjustments needed every single week, to win games.
The priority that the Saints coaching staff has put on making adjustments helped New Orleans score 25 unanswered points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Sunday at rainy Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, after the Buccaneers had jumped out to a 14-3 lead at halftime.
(11-2) New Orleans went on to win the game by a score of 28-14 and clinched their 2nd consecutive NFC South Division Championship in the process.
Those numbers certainly are worthy of a team that’s looking to make their mark in the upcoming NFL Playoffs, and one could easily argue that it;s a statistic which makes the Saints “Super Bowl-worthy” this year,
The reason for that observation is for one simple fact:
New Orleans led the entire NFL in 2nd Half Scoring Differential last season in 2017 as well; as they finished with a 14.3 average for a team that lost in the Divisional round of the Playoffs.
And given the fact that it’s actually nearly 3 points higher this year, one could make the solid argument that it’s a number atypical of a defense that has gone into the locker room at halftime and made a key adjustment that allows them to counter-act the success enjoyed by the opponent.
“Coming out of halftime, guys are really taking those coaching points and applying them to the field, and it’s making a difference,” Saints 3rd year defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said.to Times-Picayune / NOLA.com writer Amos Morale III last season.
“Those little things go so far. Whether it be adjusting your alignment six inches to the left or six inches to the right, those little things go so far in being able to help your team, and I think guys are really putting the onus on that.”
Not all that surprisingly: the two other teams that have been lumped in with the Saints as the NFL’s best teams this year — the Kansas City Chiefs and the L.A. Rams — are ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Kansas City is currently averaging 16.6 in 2nd Half Scoring Differential; while Los Angeles averages 16,2.
Much of the Saints’ success on that side of the ball however, seems to have come in the most recent weeks that began with the contest at Cincinnati. In their past 5 games alone, the Saints defense has only allowed 55 total points, or an average of 11 points per game.
THAT ladies and gentlemen, is a number associated with teams that are Hell-bent on winning a Super Bowl, as we all know that the Saints are intent on doing once the Playoffs begin next month,
Saints last 5 games, Points allowed:
-Bengals – 14 (1 TD in garbage time)
-Falcons 17 (1 TD in garbage time)
The Saints’ emphasis on making critically-needed adjustments dates back to last year’s defensive unit, which is essentially (with the notable exception of a couple of players such as Demario Davis, Eli Apple, and Marcus Davenport) is the very same unit New Orleans is putting out on the field this season.
The coaching staff obviously was inspired to do so mainly because of the team’s failure in previous seasons with 2nd Half Scoring Differential, especially after their (7-9) season of 2016; when the Saints lost 7 games that were decided by six points or less. Five of those losses were decided by three points or less.
“We knew we were way better than that,” Rankins said. “And the guys came in wanting to prove themselves, wanting to be a part of something special. So when you combine those two things, we took the onus on ourselves this camp to not allow the little things to beat us, and I think we took that into the season.”
New Orleans also leads the NFL currently in the most games holding opponents to 20 points or less this season; as they have done so a total of 9 different times in 13 games.
— Ellias J Williams (@ElliasJWilliams) December 10, 2018
Clearly the Saints defense has been playing as well as they have in quite some time; and definitely much better in the past 2 seasons as opposed to the three seasons prior to that from 2014 thru 2016.
But this season in particular they’ve been playing at an entirely different level; and it’s been evident thanks to those numbers compiled from all 13 weeks of NFL game-action thus far.