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Previewing the Eagles’ defense vs. the Saints’ offense

The Kist & Solak Show #68!

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

We’re days away from the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs and we here at Bleeding Green Nation Podcasts are covering it from every angle. In the beginning of our preview series, The Kist & Solak Show #68 kicks things off by looking at the battle between the New Orleans Saints’ offense and the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles’ defense.

I loosely transcribed a portion of the show, which involved some of my thoughts on how pressuring Drew Brees was only half the battle.

“Weeks 1 -12 compared to weeks 13-17 paint very different different pictures. Brees went from leading the league in completion percentage and QB Rating, to seeing a drop of 7% in completions, shaved off 2.2 yards from his per attempt average, which is massive, and his QB Rating dropped 43 points all the way down to 84.7.

That’s not a dip in play, that’s falling off a cliff in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Here’s the question.. the NFL season is a rollercoaster, so is that a short lived blip for a legend like Brees, or can it continue? I don’t know the answer to that, but I can tell you this…

Ben if you remember back in week 2, Ryan Fitzpatrick had a big day on us and got rid of the ball in lightning speed. I charted this to prove a point about how it wasn’t the pass rush that was the problem, but the coverage that let the defense down.

So I charted every dropback. What I was looking for were dropbacks from Fitzpatrick where the ball got out within one hitch after the natural drop. The number I came to was 71%.

Pro Football Focus charted the Eagles with a pressure rate of 37%, which is high, top ten on the week... but it didn’t matter because the pressure didn’t move Fitzpatrick from the spot and the coverage didn’t discourage him from getting rid of it at the top of his drop. He was free to wheel and deal and not take hits. His QB Rating under pressure was 136.4 on the day, 3rd best of the week.

Fast forward to Week 11, I charted this.. Drew Brees, under less pressure than what the Eagles applied on Fitzpatrick, with a patchwork secondary getting beat like a drum.. The percentage of dropbacks Brees took that were delivered within one hitch of the top of the natural drop was 77%. That’s enormous. His QB Rating under pressure, when they did get it, 105.2, again, 3rd best on the day.

And here’s the last example, Ben…

Dallas Cowboys, Week 13, 37% pressure rate on Brees, the exact same number the Eagles had against Fitzpatrick that still got torched. Except the Cowboys moved Brees off the line. That frequency of throwing from within one hitch of the drop dips to 60% and his QB Rating was an abysmal 69.

Why? The coverage.

This time of year, especially with [Tom Brady] in the playoffs, or really any quarterback, you’re going to hear the talking point that pressure is the way to a quarterbacks heart, that’s if you wanna rip it out, and there’s some truth to that. Pressure negatively impacts quarterbacks, some more than others.

You’re also going to see the magic number thrown around, 40% pressure, we heard it in the lead up to the Super Bowl last year. It’s lazy.

Pressure doesn’t matter if you don’t have coverage at the top of the drop. The Eagles have to force Brees off his line with pressure, but just as important, they have to force Brees off his first two reads, not one, two, because you’re dealing with a fast processor here. You have to get him off those reads with coverage.

I point this out to tackle a narrative that I believe to be garbage, but I also point it out as something that gives some hope, because this secondary isn’t the secondary from Week 11, and the coverage deployments aren’t the same coverage deployments as Week 2.”

You can hear all that and more on The Kist & Solak Show #68! Stream it on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load. FLY EAGLES FLY!

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