After Further Review: Five takes from the tape of Saints win over Raiders

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) stretches for a first down against Las Vegas...
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) stretches for a first down against Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Divine Deablo (5) during the first half an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)(Matthew Hinton | AP)
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 5:27 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Take One: Kamara’s first touchdown reception

Alvin Kamara was a force Sunday and took over the game. His two touchdown catches were perfectly called, executed and designed differently to produce the same result.

On his first touchdown catch, the Saints came out in 11 personnel (three receivers, one tight end, one back) and were in a three-by-one alignment with Juwan Johnson lined up solo to the left. Kamara was in the backfield next to Andy Dalton on the left as well. On the snap, Kamara took an initial step outside. Linebacker Divine Deablo saw this and took a hard step to his right, so hard that he even bumped into Johnson, who released vertical into his route.

Kamara saw that Deablo overplayed the route to the outside and immediately and smoothly broke inside. He was also able to cut under Chandler Jones who started wide on his rush in hopes of chipping Kamara.

With two safeties deep, the Raiders had no underneath ‘rat’ or ‘hole’ defender. Andy Dalton saw the bust and immediately got the ball out his hands and into Kamara’s. He was hit at the seven-yard line but refused to go down and willed his way into the end zone.

Take Two: Kamara’s second touchdown reception

For the second touchdown reception, the Saints had a completely different personnel grouping and formation. They were in 12 personnel in a two-by -two set with tight ends Taysom Hill and Nick Vannett in a bunch formation to the left side of the field. The Raiders responded with a bear front, with three defensive tackles and two edge players. Clelin Ferrel was lined up wide on the edge pre-snap, standing up. They also had just one safety back deep with everyone else pressed at the line of scrimmage, essentially tipping man coverage.

The linebacker responsible for Kamara on this play was Denzel Perryman, who played it the exact same way as Deablo before. Post-snap, Perriman bolted to the outside anticipating a flat route but basically guessed wrong. Once again, Kamara smoothly transitioned inside. Ferrell was supposed to jam Kamara but completely missed. When Dalton threw it to Kamara, Perryman’s shoulders were still turned towards the sideline. Once in the open field, Kamara was off to the races because they had no hole defender in the middle of the field as the Raiders committed five players to the line of scrimmage. He shook a tackle from the safety at the seven and picked up a block from Kevin White on the goal line to get in the end zone.

What was unique about this touchdown was the Saints very rarely run that route out of that bunch formation mainly because of the congestion it creates.

Take Three: 3rd down Dalton

Dalton was steady most of the game for the Saints, and it really came to light on third down against the Raiders. Dalton finished 7/8 on third down and converted five first downs. We went through each one of his attempts.

3rd-4 12:43 1st quarter

His first one came on their first drive. On 3rd &4, the Raiders dropped into a cover three zone and dropped a defensive lineman underneath to have eight in coverage. Dalton didn’t really have much of a choice but to check it down to Mark Ingram, who had some room to run but wasn’t able to convert.

3rd- 6 7:00 1st quarter

Dalton’s first conversion came on the next drive when he found Taysom Hill in the middle of the field for an eight-yard gain on 3rd & 6. The Raiders dropped into a cover two zone, Hill ran a crossing route but made the proper read to sit in the middle of the field as opposed to running across the field against the zone coverage. The Saints were in their ‘pony’ personnel grouping with Kamara split out wide and Dwayne Washington in the backfield.

3rd-9 13:34 2nd quarter

In the second quarter on 3rd & 9, Dalton connected with tight end Juwan Johnson for an eight-yard gain. The Raiders were in what looked like a cover two or four zone with two safeties back. Johnson initially ran his route past the sticks but when he came for the ball on his curl route, he ended up catching the pass short of the line to gain. Chris Olave ran a slot fade on the play, while Kevin White may have been open on the deep in.

3rd-9 2:15 2nd quarter

Later in the quarter on another 3rd & 9, Dalton connected with Olave on a deep curl for 14 yards. The Raiders ran a cover 3 zone on the play. Dalton anticipated the throw nicely and fit it in the window between the deep third safety, hook/curl and curl/flat underneath zone defenders.

3rd- 4 :41 2nd quarter

A few plays later on that same drive, Dalton moved the sticks again on a 3rd & 4 when he found Marquez Callaway on a slant for ten yards. This was the first pass where the Raiders went man coverage. Callaway set up Anthony Averett nicely and was able to get inside when Averett turned his hips towards the sideline.

3rd-1 :13 2nd quarter

Dalton’s lone 3rd down incompletion came on the final offensive play of the half. Dalton made the correct read to target Olave on the quick out. The Raiders were in a relaxed cover two and giving up the flat/underneath route. The ball sailed a little on Dalton, though it was catchable.

3rd-6 10:11 4th quarter

In the fourth quarter, Dalton went back to Olave on 3rd & 6. The Saints were 12 personnel with two tight ends, two receivers and a back on the field. This was the first 3rd down pass where the Raiders blitzed. Olave ran an impressive deep out route about 11 yards downfield. Dalton threw it before Olave hit his break and connected on the sideline. It was a nice throw and catch.

3rd-5 5:56 4th quarter

The pair connected again later in the fourth when Dalton found Olave on a slant for 13 yards. The Raiders showed a bear front with three defensive tackle and two edge players. On the snap, one of the tackles dropped out in coverage. The Raiders stayed in man, but Olave completely turned Rock Ya-Sin around with his jab step to the outside to give Dalton a nice lane to throw the ball.

Take Four: Tracking Alontae Taylor

What an impressive starting debut for Saints second round pick, Alontae Taylor. He played every single defensive snap (58) of Sunday’s win over Las Vegas and didn’t shy away from anything or anyone. This was evident on the very first offensive play from scrimmage when he tracked down Josh Jacobs for a tackle for loss. He had another tackle for loss on a toss play later in the game.

In coverage, Taylor was fearless and spent most of his day lined up against Devante Adams. When Derek Carr was in the game, Taylor matched up with him ten times and didn’t allow a single catch. Adams came close when he beat Taylor with a double move on the sideline but couldn’t get both feet down on the sideline. In the second half, Adams beat Taylor him on a nine route and even threw his hand up to alert he was open downfield, but Carr was sacked on the play.

There was a route earlier in the game where Taylor pressed against Adams and got a good jam to take away a slant route. His best play in press against Adams came when Adams ran a deep route up the sideline. Taylor knocked the ball away at the last second. The Saints were in man-free coverage, meaning Taylor had no safety help over the top. The only catch I charted that Taylor gave up in man coverage was a back shoulder/stop route to Mack Hollins for a first down.

In zone coverage, Taylor was mostly the underneath flat defender in the Saints’ cover two. He got caught gambling on the first third down of the game when he jumped the route of the slot receiver a little too quickly and let Hollins get up the rail untouched. Fortunately, Justin Evans was there to jar the ball loose at the last second. There was one snap where Taylor rotated to the deep half to be the safety in an inverted cover two.

Taylor also nearly had an interception early in the game when he was matched up on tight end Jesper Horsted when he undercut a dig route.

It’s clear after watching him that Taylor doesn’t play like a rookie, and the Saints must find a way to get him on the field even when the secondary returns to full health.

Take Five: Other Observations

- The Saints essentially put the game away in the second quarter. At the 14:23 mark, the Raiders foolishly tried a fake punt and failed miserably. Three plays later, the Saints kicked a field goal. Three plays after that, Tyrann Mathieu picked off Carr. Seven plays after the interception at the 7:23 mark, Kamara scored his second touchdown of the game. In a span of exactly seven minutes, the Saints essentially got two turnovers and the score went from 7-0 to 17-0.

- After watching the tape of Mathieu’s interception, it was equally impressive plays by both Pete Werner and Mathieu. Werner had to find the over route coming behind him and was able to get enough depth to undercut the ball. That’s not easy to do as a linebacker in coverage. Mathieu was initially an underneath zone defender and helped double Adams, which is where Carr wanted to go. This forced a late throw by Carr, and Mathieu was able to flip around and find the ball in the air off the deflection.

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