Saturday, September 11, 2010

Season Opening Lineups: Minnesota at New Orleans

Author: SHAQ for The Football ERA

     Its easy to see how New Orleans Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams has built up and developed his defense in the offseason to get the Saints to the next level when we analyze the lineups for stability, growth, development, and the infusion of talent.  Roughly eight months from the rematch of last year's thriller of a Championship game, we witnessed a more fast and furious New Orleans' pass rush and coverage unit against a similar Minnesota offensive line on Thursday night's season opener than in that of the 2009 NFC Championship game.  The Football ERA formula calculated a greater pass rush result for the Saints than the Vikings even though both teams registered a single sack each.
     New Orleans maintained stability in their core front four and front seven while adding young talent, experience, and more speed in the arrival of DE Alex Brown from the Bears and with LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar taking over for the departed LB Scott Fujita who is now a Cleveland Brown.  (Unfortunately for free agent DE Charles Grant, he wasn't valued at the level of play needed to justify his new contract to avoid the brutal final roster cuts after training camp competition in Miami).
Here are the Lineups with once again, the changes from the previous season highlighted in bold:

New Orleans


Jo-Lonn Dunbar

Jonathan Vilma

Scott Shanle

Alex Brown
Remi Ayodele

Sedrick Ellis
Will Smith


Jermon Bushrod
Carl Nicks
Jonathan Goodwin
Jahri Evans
Jon Stinchcomb



Chad Greenway

EJ Henderson



Ray Edwards
Kevin Williams

Pat Williams
Jared Allen


Bryant McKinnie
Steve Hutchinson
John Sullivan
Anthony Herrera
Phil Loadholdt

*vikings opened in the nickel pkg;(see LB Ben Leber)
The stability one can clearly see in the Viking lineup from last season lent for a well played game from both defenses which are among the league's finest---even though the game lacked the high scoring aesthetic value that the average fan craves in an enjoyable NFL telecast.  Minnesota wasn't as sharp on their offensive line as the Saints--both coming off a stable offseason--with the Saints camp the more grueling challenge.  Ironically, the Saints (and the Chargers) both suffered from the same season opening starting malaise a few years ago when they both came off the offseason with stability in their roster on their offensive lines from the previous season.

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