49ers Nate Clements is back with his Clements' Coverage column this year, taking turns each week with receiver Bryant Johnson in scouting out the upcoming opponent. Get Clements' take as he locks down his focus on the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints have the top rated passing offense in the NFL right now, and I think a lot of it has to do with the offensive philosophy of head coach Sean Payton, and also their weapons. He's got guys like Jeremy Shockey, Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, David Patten, and Reggie Bush. So, you have a lot of things that you can do as far as getting the ball in those guys' hands. They've got a lot of real good skilled players so they tend to throw the ball a lot, and quarterback Drew Brees makes the right reads and good throws.
They are banged up, but I still expect them to stick with their offense. They'll still find a way to isolate players and get them matched up to their advantage.
I think their offensive scheme is sort of like a west coast offense where they try to make quick throws, but they also keep you honest because they can go vertical on you. You have to play honest and use proper technique.
As we all know Reggie Bush is a unique player. He's versatile and he has a lot of athletic ability. They are getting him a lot of touches because I'm sure they feel if they can get the ball in his hands, their odds of winning increase.
He's obviously not the type of runner where he can just grind it in between the tackles. They design plays for what he does best. He will run up between the tackles, but he likes to hit the edge and make guys miss. He's versatile and he can do a lot of things. He's fast like a receiver, he has the power to run and the playbook is definitely designed to feature him and so whether he's in the backfield or lined up wide, he's a threat. You definitely have to swarm him when he gets the ball. That's the number one thing. Not just with him, but with any back you want to swarm the ball carrier and gang tackle him.
Bush also has made a difference as a punt returner. He's proven that he can make a big play, and so they want him back there with the ball in his hands to maximize his ability.
Our guys up in the trenches set the tone for the game. Once they get going, they can really make it a lot easier for us in the back end. Their offensive line hasn't given up many sacks, but I am confident in the job that our guys can do this week, and every week.
As for the backend, we've got some talented receivers to handle this week.
Robert Meachem was a first round pick for them and he's shown that he can make a lot of plays vertically. He makes a lot of plays going deep on film so we'll be aware of that. He's a big, strong, physical receiver who can run.
David Patten had a nice game against us last year, and he's been in the league for plus 10 years. He's got excellent speed, quickness and he can catch the ball. He's probably their best route runner in my opinion, and he can still run and get deep. We'll need to disrupt him if he's in there and prevent him from catching balls on us.
Devery Henderson is one of the fastest of the bunch. He can definitely stretch defenses because he can run and he has speed. He can open up a lot of windows in the passing game for Brees.
Lance Moore is coming on strong and playing more of a role in this offense. He's been out wide as well, but I think he's most effective in that slot and we've got to have good tight coverage on him. He's good at finding a crease in your defense, and finding holes.
I haven't seen too much of Terrance Copper. I remember watching him last year, but he's been hurt I think most of this season.
So, we don't really know necessarily who will be out there for them but it doesn't really matter because Brees is going to run his offense. For example, just because Shockey is out, you can't take the tight end for granted. Shockey is a loss for them because he was a big-time weapon in the run and passing game, but I always say you better expect the next guy to step up and be just as productive. Balls are still going to go to Billy Miller. He's a passing tight end, and a veteran.
I will definitely look at the game from last year and I'm sure they will too. They'll try to see what was effective against our defense, just like I'll see what we did that was affective against their offense. I'll scout and breakdown their recent games, but I'll take that past game home with me too to watch.
We have high goals in our secondary and we met most of those last week against Detroit, and now we've got a tall order with the Saints number one rated passing attack. We look forward to that challenge.
We feed off our offense and when they are driving and putting up points, we want to do everything in our power to get them the ball back. I know our offense didn't do that well getting points on them last year, but we don't even care about that because we have so many changes to our offense. There's different personnel, and a different coordinator, so I expect this to be a different ball game, and I'm confident that our offense will do well. Like I said, it's our job to get them the ball as often as possible.
We are taking them one game at a time so this game is very important first of all because it's the only game we are playing this week. We just have to build on what we did last week. We want to rack up these W's as we go along, and especially get this one since it's an NFC conference game.