I'll concentrate on sets and alignments here, as there's increasing talk about the role our OC has played in our winless season. I'll offer a few value judgments and hope you'll do the same.
Q1, 14:51, 1and10, C37 (after a good KO return by Goodson) From a 2WR set (Smith & Gettis), with King the TE left, Fiammetta and Williams in the I, Clausen UC, we run a nice screen to D-Will, who takes it 14 for a FD.
14:00, 1and10, N49. Panthers take their 1st Time Out, as crowd noise seems to confuse communication between the QB and his line. With 2 TEs set right (King and Rosario), D-Will the lone back, a run by Williams goes nowhere.
13:24, 2and10, N49. A 5WR set, including Williams slot left, empty backfield, Clausen UC, they send 5 rushers. Bernadeau whiiffs on Sedrick Ellis, allowing a sack and a 5 yd loss. Clausen locks in on Gettis from the snap (a little sideways glance elsewhere would've shown that both King and Rosario were wide open over the middle.) Deeper routes to the wideouts didn't have enough time, but the short dumpoffs could've beaten the rusher.
12:50, 3and15, C46. 3WR, Shotgun, Rosario shifts to FB, ahead of Williams. Clausen attempts a quick smoke route to Smith, but throws it in the dirt, leading to a punt.
Q1, 4:13, 1and10, C20. (After their drive to our 1 leads to a fumble-causing tackle by Sherrod Martin, recovered by James Anderson in the EZ, for a touchback.) Two runs by D-Will for 5 and then 4 bring up 3and1 at our 29.
3:10, 3and1, C29. Stewart comes in to spell Williams after the 2 rushes, and his rush attempt can't get started, owing to a second whiff by Bernadeau. So on 4and2, we punt again.
As this is our last possession of the First Quarter, it's worth noting our production (or lack thereof) at that time: 4:20 of possession, 8 rushing yards, 9 passing, 17 total.
Q2, 14:49, 1and10, C28. (After N.O.'s TD on 3rd and goal from our 4. I'll note that though James Anderson played an exceptionally productive game, he missed 3 tackles early, and this was one of them. He had a clean shot at Lance Moore, as he caught the screen pass at the 6, but missed him.) One other note here: on the KR, Brandon LaFell laid the wood to their Safety, Prioleau, knocking him out of the game - nice block!) On 1st down, Clausen scrambles for 5 yards.
14:14, 2and5, C33. 2WR (89 and 12), TEs bunched, Stewart the lone back, UC, Clausen hands to 28, who goes up the middle for 2. This is one of those plays I have to question. They have 8 in the box, knowing we're gonna run. Gettis goes in motion from the right, but settles in next to the 2 TEs we've already bunched right. This brings his defender into the play, and it's this guy who makes the tackle.
13:40, 3and2, C36. 4WRs, 1 left, 3 right, Shotgun, 28 the lone back - complete for 7 to Rosario on a slant from the left, for a FD. This type of pass play is undefendable, and should be used more often. It's PManning's bread and butter; it should be ours, too.
13:06, 1and10, C43. 2 yds on a run by Stewart, which he makes on his own, as the middle is completely clogged.
12:26, 2and8, C45. 5WR, SG, empty backfield - 28 is set wide right, which confuses their defense, and he's left totally uncovered, and hauls in an easy pass, running it in for a 55yd TD, tying the score at 7-7. Kudos to Clausen for stepping up in the pocket, and seeing the open man. Very encouraging for the future.
Q2, 8:45, 1and10, C21. (After the second fumble recovery by Anderson, following a nice strip tackle by Richard Marshall, on the RB Ivory, who'd gotten it to our 20.) 2WR set, Williams runs for 9.
7:52, 2and1, C30. Same alignment, same play, same result, this time for 8 and a FD.
7:12, 1and10, C38. Same 2 WRs out, Rosario the TE right, Clausen has a pass to Williams batted down at the line. The DT had his arms up, and either JC needs to step to the side (plenty of time and space to do it here), or loft it higher. Play would've gained at least 8-10.
7:08, 2and10, C38. UC, 2WRs (Smith wide right, LaFell slot right), it's an easy completion to Smith on a slant, for 6. This is the mirror image of the slant to Rosario from the left, that worked in the 3rd series.
6:20, 3and4, C44. SG, 4WR, Fiammetta the lone back. Clausen gets sacked on this play, forcing a punt. The blame falls on Fiammetta, who inexplicably weaves through the 5 rushers to go out for a pass (we didn't need 5 receivers, Tony; we needed a blocker to pick up the blitzer.) Fiammetta makes too many mental mistakes for me.
Q2, 1:07, 1and10, C20. (After a N.O. FG made it 7-10.) We go 3 and out on this series, the first pass batted down again, a draw for no gain on second, then an incompletion on a widely overthrown ball.
Series 6) Q3, 12:37, 1and10, C20 (After our D finally forces a punt from N.O.) A run by Williams gains 21, but it's called back for a hold on Smith, -10 from the spot of the foul. net result, only +2, instead of +21. I note that we talk about Williams cutting it to the left side, after starting off tackle, the OTHER 2 times (the TD, and the last gasp), but this was a third time, and it worked to perfection, too, leading him to think it would in the last series, I think.
12:21, 1and8, C22. 3WR set, 42 and 34 backs, pass in the right flat to Fiammetta for 4.
11:44, 2and4, C26. 3WRs (Rosario, Smith, and Gettis), SG, Stewart the lone back. Nice timing pattern to Gettis near the right sideline, for 19 and a FD. (Gettis got away with a nifty little pushoff, a la Moose.)
11:05, 1and10, C47. Stewart runs for 7 around right end.
10:36, 2and3, N46. Attempted pass is batted down AGAIN, this time by Ellis, as Bernadeau again misses his block.
10:31, 3and3, N46. 4WR set, but also King and Rosario in at TE's, empty backfield. Clausen rolls left and throws to Jarrett near the left sideline, but the CB makes a good jump, and deflects the pass into the air. Luckily, King's nearby and brings it in for a FD. This is one of the few lucky breaks we not only got, but capitalized on, as the next play will show...
9:55, 1and10, N39. QB UC, Williams the lone back, Smith and Gettis wide. Rosario shifts to FB. The run by Williams is designed to go off tackle, but (like the 21 yarder he had earlier this series that was called back) he cuts it to the outside left, and goes in almost untouched. Big props here to a great block by Smith to clear the corner - this time he didn't hold. We go ahead 14-10, for the first time.
Q3 4:25, 1and10, C48. (After their FG cut the lead to 14-13, Goodson made a fine KR) False start on Gross moves it back 5.
4:20, 1and15, C43. A run by Stewart gains back 4 that was lost.
3:45, 2and11, C47. SG, Stewart the lone back, a quick pass to Smith gains 4, but Smith is out with a high ankle sprain on the play, and doesn't return.
3:28, 3and6, N49. 3WRs, SG, Williams the lone setback. Clausen locks his vision on Gettis, wide left, and either his throw is off mark, or Gettis ran the wrong route. Incomplete, and punt.
Series 8) Q3, 1:27, 1and10, C30. (After our D forces a 3 and out punt.) Williams runs for 5.
0:50, 2and5, C35. A smoke route to LaFell only gains 1.
0:10, 3and4, C36. For the 3rd time, a quick slant to an outside WR (this time Rosario, out wide right) works to perfection, for 10, and a FD. This has GOT to become our staple possession pass!
Q4, 15:00, 1and10, C46. An ill-timed run, into an 8-man box, loses 2.
14:20, 2and12, C44. Another boring run only gains back the lost 2.
13:37, 3and10, C46. 4WR set with a double slot and Williams the lone back, from the SG, Clausen makes the same mistake he'd made before - he only looks to Gettis. The CB jumps the route, and almost makes the pick. I'm assuming if this is so obvious to me, that our QB coach can see it in film study, and coach Clausen out of the habit. There are other guys out for the pass besides Gettis, and they MIGHT be open if he'd look for them. We have to punt.
Q4, 3:50, 1and10, C28. (After their 3rd FG put us behind 14-16) On the KR, Goodson is injured with a vicious face mask tackle. "Inadvertent? I don't think so! UC, with Smith now out, Gettis and LaFell are the 2WRs, Fiammetta and Stewart in the I. A run by Stewart gains 3. For whatever reason, the Panthers burn their second timeout (first went on a lost challenge), before they can get the next play off. This poor clock management comes back to haunt them soon thereafter.
3:12, 2and7, C31. Clausen scrambles for 5 yds.
2:46, 3and2, C36. Stewart runs for 4, and a FD.
2:25, 1and10, C40. A run by Williams, the lone back, up the middle, gains 6.
2:00, 2and4, C46. A pass intended for King is batted down at the line (4th time? too many)
1:57, 3and4, C46. SG, 4WRs, Williams alone, Clausen again tries to hit Gettis, but underthrows him badly, in the dirt.
1:53, 4and4, C46. Redemptive throw by Clausen, rolling right, for a FD to Gettis on the right sidelines. Gettis makes a special reception, getting both feet inbounds as he goes OOB. Before the play, Fox had to call our last timeout, as the play clock was running down, unbeknownst to Clausen.
1:46, 1and10, N38. Right on the edge of Kasay's FG range (in the dome, that is), we have a chance to run down the clock, move closer, and let him win it in dramatic fashion. But with plenty of time (but with 2 timeouts wasted earlier), we implode. A run by Williams gains only 2. We weren't wasting time with this run, as scoring too quickly would've given Brees a lot of time to score back. But N.O. stops the clock with a player hobbling off (?)
1:35, 2and8, N36. They put 9 on the line, and nobody blocks S Osama Young, who has great contain on our left side, stopping Williams' cutback attempt for a crucial 4 yard loss. Kasay might've been able to make it from 53, but not from 57. Can't blame Williams for trying to make a play that had worked twice before for big gains; in fact, it might've been the call all along. But Young hid behind Gross and the guy he was blocking, only to appear after Williams had made his cut. He made a great tackle.
1:00, 3and12, N40. SG, 4WR, Stewart alone, they rush 6. Jarret is wide open on a slant from the right, at their 36, LaFell is open on a cross from the left, at their 35. The pocket is intact for long enough, but JC's looking further downfield, doesn't see them, and is eventually sacked by the blitzing CB. A completion here would've left enough time for a spike and a FG try. But no timeouts left now; too far for a FG try.
0:08, 4and16, N44. SG, Stewart lone back, 4WRs out. Clausen fires to Jarrett at the 29, but Jabari Greer breaks it up. Time would've run out anyway, had it been caught, as it was thrown in the field of play. Had there been a DPI call, however, the game wouldn't have ended, and we could've tried the FG. But no call was made, even though it was close.
We were <that close> to a win. Bad set of circumstances conspired to let N.O. get away with one.
But we're getting closer. Just need to manage the clock better, stop having passes batted down, learn to look off defenders, keep throwing those slants, and get somebody in at RG who can block, and we'll be good to go.
(James, the usual, please - if you want to put this onto the Front Page, add a pic of your choice.)