Football

Saints aren’t the Ain’ts without Brees, but the Steelers without Roethislberger …

New Orleans quarterback Taysom Hill stiff arms a defender to the turf during a preseason game Sunday. The Pocatello native turned in his best performance under center yet,  rallying the Saints to a 19-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
New Orleans quarterback Taysom Hill stiff arms a defender to the turf during a preseason game Sunday. The Pocatello native turned in his best performance under center yet, rallying the Saints to a 19-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. AP

It will be interesting to see what the Steelers and the Saints do with Ben Roethlisberger out for the season and Drew Brees out for six weeks and maybe longer.

But the Saints, they’re definitely not in the same type of trouble.

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David Carr

New Orleans has a replacement in Teddy Bridgewater and they have a coach in Sean Payton who is extremely good at creating offense for his quarterback and giving him the answers to the test before the snap. The Saints can line up guys like running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook in positions where Bridgewater will know the coverage before the play.

If they take Kamara or Cook and put them outside a wide receiver in the formation, the defense is going to have to align either in man-to-man with a linebacker or safety out there, or they’re going to have a corner on them and then Bridgewater will know it’s some kind of zone look. From there, he can get into the appropriate play. That will help his decision-making.

The Saints also have Taysom Hill, who was a quarterback at BYU but has lined up all over the field as a pro. It’s going to be fun to see what Payton comes up with. I think he’s going to be a little more creative with Hill now. I think Bridgewater and Hill will be on the field at the same time. I think there will be scenarios where Bridgewater isn’t on the field. I think there will be 20 or 25 plays a game where that’s the case.

Payton thinks highly of Hill – he compared him to Steve Young this offseason. I think Hill will get more touches. He’ll put pressure on the defense. I like that scenario in New Orleans a whole lot better than the one in Pittsburgh.

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws to running back Alvin Kamara (41) during a 28-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. Jason Behnken ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Steelers, they just don’t have those guys. They don’t have that luxury.

Roethlisberger was really the only thing the Steelers had going, because they’ve lost Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown and those are two guys that are going to dictate coverage.

Roethlisberger was left to rely on his experience and try to bring along Juju Smith-Schuster and those young receivers, then utilize running back James Conner.

But they don’t have a matchup problem like the Saints – if they put Connor out there, defenses will line up with anybody. That’s just not the case in Pittsburgh.

Josh Allen and the 60% solution

Josh Allen has completed 64.9 and 63.3 percent of his passes the past two weeks and if he makes it three in a row – and he easily could with a game against Cincinnati up next – it will be the first time since … maybe Firebaugh High.

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Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen throws a pass during the first half of a 22-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. Allen, from Firebaugh, completed 16 of 33 passes for 151 yards with two interceptions. Mike Roemer ASSOCIATED PRESS

He didn’t do it last season with the Bills, didn’t do it in three seasons at Wyoming, didn’t do it in his one season at Reedley College.

It’s rare to see a quarterback with a completion percentage in the 50s in college make that kind of jump once he’s in the NFL. But I really like what Buffalo has done, and Allen has made a really nice step in his second year. It’s a credit to him because he could have come back and still been the guy who just throws it down the field.

What the Bills did, and I love the move, they brought in receiver Cole Beasley to attack the middle of the field and he has been able to give Allen an intermediate outlet. He has a place to go, and Zay Jones also has stepped up and made some nice plays.

There were games last season where safeties lined up at 25 or 30 yards against Buffalo and it’s easy to understand why – they knew it was either a run or a deep ball.

Coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City, they talk about, “Touchdown, check down.” That was the mode that Allen was working in last year, but a lot of the time he was skipping the check down part. Now, with Beasley and Allen’s knowledge of the system, the Bills have that intermediate game and Allen’s completion percentage has gone up because he has been willing to take that underneath throw.

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. In his rookie season, Roethlisberger attempted 21.1 passes per game. By his third season, that was up to 31.3. NFL Network analyst David Carr said there is a blueprint there that can help Buffalo rookie Josh Allen. John Sleezer KANSAS CITY STAR

Buffalo is also utilizing his legs and his running ability and that has him in situations where he’s getting a lot more single-safety looks, a lot more one-on-one throws.

It’s exciting because not only is he a local kid, he has a big arm. He has a lot of talent. It’s one of those things where you really want it to work out because of the sheer potential to his ability. I mean, he has Mahomes-type ability throwing the football down the field and utilizing his legs to make plays.

Defense wins championships, and fantasy leagues

Carr was talked into joining a fantasy football league a few years ago by his brother, Darren. He won it. His strategy — picking a defense off the waiver wire each week that had a chance to score points based on their match up.

Two weeks into the season the defense pick is obvious — whatever team is playing the Dolphins — so we’ll put a player out there who might be under the radar a bit.

The 49ers’ Matt Breida is a player to put on that list. San Francisco has Pittsburgh at home and the Steelers have been struggling on defense. They’re giving up 125 rushing yards per game and the 49ers just ran the ball 42 times against Cincinnati on the road and they looked pretty good doing it.

Breida is interesting because they’re down a couple of guys on their depth chart, but he looks like a guy who has really good vision and I think they’re going to use him as their guy going forward. That zone scheme has looked pretty good for them.

David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.

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