Saints’ defensive play call may be more to blame than Marcus Williams for Minnesota Moment

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The Minnesota Moment needed more than a solid route, a great throw, a better catch, and an acrobatic spin and sprint. It hinged also on the blind luck that came from the last line of the New Orleans defense making a mental miscalculation in the “oh sh-t” split second as the ball approached the hands of receiver Stefon Diggs.

Marcus Williams, as one source familiar with the New Orleans defensive scheme explained it to PFT, undoubtedly had been told over and over and over again to not commit pass interference in that situation. Even though the flag will tend to be tucked a little deeper in the officials’ pockets at that moment in a postseason game, Williams risked drawing a penalty if he’d blasted an airborne Diggs before the ball arrived.

By diving to the inside, Williams also was hoping to prevent Diggs from getting out of bounds. No one (other than Diggs) was thinking that the catch could become a catch-and-run to paydirt.

The problem is that Williams dove a little too early and a little too far off the target line, missing Diggs completely (the kill-shot move instead of the form tackle with extended arms was a factor in the whiff), doing nothing to impede his progress, and also wiping out teammate Ken Crawley, who may have had a chance to tackle a stumbling Diggs in the field of play, which would have ended the game.

The play design was a separate issue. There simply weren’t enough guys in the vicinity of the target spot for a potential game-winning field goal and no one playing the deep middle in order to defend against the worst-case scenario that ultimately unfolded.

The Saints rushed four players. They had a defensive back covering tight end Kyle Rudolph who ran a six-yard out. There were two defensive players in the middle of the field near the 50. A safety on the side across from Diggs was playing over the top of receiver Adam Thielen, apparently in the event that Thielen got by Marshon Lattimore in the same way Digg eluded Williams.

If the Saints had used a two-man rush and an umbrella of protection along the sidelines from the 35 to the 25 and with one or two break-glass-in-event-of-emergency safeties guarding the end zone, Williams wouldn’t have been put in a spot where, as a practical matter, he had Diggs in single coverage.

Watch the play. Crawley was covering Jarius Wright, and Williams had Diggs — with no help behind Williams. The instant Williams missed Diggs, it was game over.

That may be one of the reasons why the team isn’t blaming Williams. Pointing a finger at the player could result in someone pointing a bigger finger at defensive coordinator Dennis Allen for a defensive play design that had too many players in spots where they weren’t needed, and not enough where they were.

57 responses to “Saints’ defensive play call may be more to blame than Marcus Williams for Minnesota Moment

  1. It was a horrible defensive call, bad defensive play, and nice throw.

    There’s been a lot of talk of situational football lately and this is another game that came down to that.

  2. What if, what if, what if, hindsite to the moment is bliss… If Earl Thomas was on the field, he wouldn’t score. There should of been a center fielder, without a doubt.

  3. Spot on analysis.

    The Saints defensive coaches should as well have been pushing just as hard to “keep all Vikings receivers in front of you and make the tackle”. As they reportedly were pushing the “no PI” penalty. If Williams had it in mind to keep Diggs in front of him. He very likely would not have charged so hard to the ball.

  4. Rushing 4 was a huge miscalculation by Saints DC Dennis Allen. They should’ve rushed 2 and dropped 9 back into a Prevent defense. The safeties should have been at least 25 yards from the line of scrimmage to “prevent” what Diggs did to them. Big time fail by Allen, but an even bigger fail by Williams. If there’s a lesson to learn from this, it’s don’t be flashy, just do your job. Williams tried to go for the headhunter hit, didn’t wrap up, and will be on the wrong side of history forever.

  5. Why not just tell the d-backs to just grab their men at the line of scrimmage and take a 5 yard holding penalty leaving time for only a hail Mary and taking a field goal out of the equation.

  6. that’s all fine, well & good…but the fact remains that williams missed the tackle. doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie…you’ve been playing football most of your life. know the situation…he could have laid back and gave himself enough space to make the tackle. know that when diggs catches the ball its 4 seconds left and minnesota had no timeouts and no chance to stop the clock w a spike. poor execution on the player.

  7. Exactly. Finally someone who understands it wasn’t all his fault. That was poor coaching/play calling. He did get there too early which would have resulted in a foul and would have been a Forbath kick (Gary and Blair would have been replaying in his head) but I’m glad it didn’t come to that. Great game for Vikings fans anyway. Great to watch as a football fan

  8. Was with you until you said 2-man rush. That’s a recipe for having your defenders covering too long and an even worse situation.
    I’ve been saying this since the play happened: Saints defensive scheme was horrible. Should have been a 3-man rush, giving up the middle of the field and everyone playing 15 yards, with 2 linebackers playing the outsides. Gives you 6 for coverage and would be tough to complete a hail mary, and would give extra blockers.

    You can keep blaming this kid for the missed tackle, but whoever drew up this defensive scheme for the last play should be fired immediately. It could have been prevented.

  9. If, if, if — NFL post-game analysis – where 20/20 hindsight is the norm. If Brees hadn’t thrown 2 picks, if the Saints DBs didn’t clutch and grab, if the Saints had converted on 3rd and 1 prior to their FG – if those variables which had an equal impact on the game’s outcome had not occurred, the Saints lousy prevent coverage wouldn’t be an issue now. It’s pretty hard to blame that Williams guy from 10,000 feet.

  10. Just stop with this play calling stuff. The defense was to prevent Diggs from catching and getting out of bounds, something he should have had no chance of doing. Extra coverage deep is hard when the sidelines is the more probable goal of the offense. Players need to execute and Williams was given an easy tackle with a WR having to jump for a bad pass. The Saints got exactly what they needed to win the game and they didn’t execute. Don’t over think it.

  11. I don’t think Crawley catches Diggs anyway. He came in too hot and made an adjustment that he had to make or it is a PI.

  12. The call was adequate. A fundamental tackle and the Saints win. If you want to blame coaching , also blame the players association for reducing the ability to practice with pads. This limits tackling drills and thus poor technique.

  13. Annnnnd this is just another example of what’s wrong with the NFL. If defensive players were actually able to hit anyone then we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. Everyone remember the Bengals Steelers game earlier this year? Same thing. Hit a ball carrier with preduice annnnd it’s a 15 yard personal foul! A stupid fool hurting your team. Don’t hit them annnnnd now you’re just a stupid lazy fool making business decisions and hurting your team. Either way the defensive player is screwed. Television ratings are down because the NFL has morphed into garbage. AND I DO MEAN GARBAGE! How many times do we have to see a ‘bang bang’ play where the ball carrier actually lowers their head into the defense player’s helmet and they get flagged? Nothing cheap. Nothing dirty. Just a football collision. I think we all can see the difference between a blatant cheap shot and a regular football play. Brutality is part of the game. Sometimes the brutality is gruesome and unfortunate. But it is what makes the NFL the NFL. Let alone the constant pass interference calls on, what seems like, every single pass. I’m not taking anything away from Diggs and co. Great play. Exciting finish. BUT seriously. Diggs should have been clobbered. Cheap shot withstanding of course. I think over the years the NFL has done a great job of taking the dirty play out of the game. Just good old fashioned football is what everyone wants. And don’t even get me started on the ‘what the hell is a catch anymore’ issue!! That’s another can of worms. The term ‘slobber knocker’ wouldn’t even be in my vocabulary if it wasn’t for Joe Bugel. And the end of this play should have been a ‘slobber knocker’. Game over. Rant over….until the next game.

  14. Are we just now noticing that Dennis Allen is a terrible coach in any capacity? Color me surprised.

    The article says/asks this already, but I’ll ask it here: why would you bother covering the middle of the field with that little time left and with the Vikings needing that many yards to the end zone? You don’t need two guys there. You WANT them to throw it to the middle of the field. Just like Florio said…whomever the second man in the middle was, he should have either been assigned to help in coverage on Diggs (the Vikings’ top reciever much of the time, no less) or back deep to guard against a big play. Or blitzing, if you want to try that. But guarding the spot where it was most advantageous for the defense to allow a catch? That was stupid.

  15. Jim Schwartz would have NEVER let that happen. The dude goes into sticks defense multiple times a game. He knows when it doesnt matter if a team catches a 7 yard pass.

  16. I’m sorry but there is no call in the defensive playbook that can excuse a safety (of all players) from making that type of play. The lack technique -head down and lunging forward blindly – is the reason the ball happened.

  17. Well if coach Payton had been paying attention instead of taunting Viking fans after the go ahead field goal with the SKOL chant they would have been in a better formation. Very good team, the saints with a pompous ass coach.

  18. It might hav been the wrong coverage but…Say what you will but he flat out missed out on the play that would have sent them to Philly. Blame the coach or DC, but he should have made the play by NOT diving. He could’ve let him catch the ball then tackle him inbounds…On to Philly

  19. No!! If he keeps his head up and not try to make the big highlight hit and tackles correctly the game is over.

    It’s that simple. Stop trying to make it more than it is.

  20. This has gone beyond stupid. All he had to do was let him catch the ball and tackle him. Pee Wee Football 101. He didn’t miss. He closed his eyes and ducked his head. Again, Pee Wee Football 101.

    No one’s to blame except him. If he does his job, we’re not even having this conversation.

  21. Ridiculous. Williams had an easy tackle in front of him, Diggs was off the ground, unable to change direction, a complete lame duck. And Williams ducked his head, took his eyes off the player and didn’t even attempt to wrap him up with his arms. A pathetic attempt – Williams fully deserves to be scapegoated, the defensive call put him in position to make the tackle and he bottled it.

  22. It’s easier to hit a target if you are looking at it. Keep your head up and make the tackle.

    Although… I’m glad he took his eyes off Diggs and went low for the legs. Mom’s a Vikings fan so SKOL!

  23. I know I wondered why they didn’t drop back like 9 or 10 players on that play. I mean it was like 10 seconds left, so even getting enough yards to try an FG was a long shot.

  24. There sure is a lot of excuses being made for this play when it should land on the tackler. We see this week after week in the NFL where these guys come in and don’t wrap up. It looks like he may have even had his eyes closed on this play. Coaching sucks in the NFL to even allow players to come in and try tackling like this.

    Wonder if this guy would even be on the Patriots team the next morning after such a bone headed move. I bet this film made the Patriots team meetings this week and they were told if you don’t wrap up your not long for this team.

  25. Ridiculous. Williams had an easy tackle in front of him, Diggs was off the ground, unable to change direction, a complete lame duck. And Williams ducked his head, took his eyes off the player and didn’t even attempt to wrap him up with his arms. A pathetic attempt – Williams fully deserves to be scapegoated, the defensive call put him in position to make the tackle and he bottled it.
    ——————————————————————————–

    Not in todays society. It can’t possibly be the players fault. That would be a form of bullying if we blamed him.

  26. The kid was having a good game. He was the guy who intercepted Keenum earlier. But like they say, see what you hit and hit what you see. If he keeps his head up, he makes the tackle. sad for the Saints but happy for the Vikings. They were due!

  27. The best is how Keenum’s bad game where he threw away the Vikings season turns into a great game because he exposed his receiver too far from the sideline but a miracle saved him. Bradford may be in after halftime next week.

  28. As brilliant as Brees is and always was, he is the person I feel for the most. Played great against Seattle then the Lynch run happened. Played great against San Fran then the D fell apart and let Alex Smith run for a TD and throw for one to Vernon. And was light out in the 2nd half against Minnesota and Williams messes up like that.

    FIX THE DEFENSE !!!!!!!!!!!

  29. The Vikings Would have Won Regardless as he would have at the minimum gotten out of bounds at about the 27 Yard line Considering the Play. A 45 Yard Field Goal Wins it. I believe he was good at at least 55 yards.

    Anyway sometimes these plays cannot be stopped!!! With all due respect to Brett Farve, Keenum’s Throw had a Near Perfect Arch which was NECESSARY Here! It gave our guy time to “Make A Play” on the ball. Keenum has the Best Touch and easiest to catch balls in the NFL! Had Farve Threw that, it would not be the same. Too Hard. Second was Diggs. He has Superior Talent compared to the defenders. He also has Great Instinct, Speed, Hands, Route Running and a Will to Win like few in the game. I believe that sometimes there can be 3-4 players in front of Diggs and STILL somehow he gets the Touchdown. God was with us for sure. It is Wonderful to have Not One but Two of the Top Four Receivers in all of Football!!!

    I was so wrong as I thought we could not win without Adrian Peterson. To Top that off we lost his replacement Cook and a Top QB in Bradford. It is High Time to acknowledge what be people who KNOW FOOTBALL already know. That Case Keenum is not just a Starter but the TOP Quarterback and NFL MVP this YearMy Faith in God is Stronger than ever!!! We are Truly a TEAM and a team of Destiny. It is the 1987 Twins all over except the Vikings have Much More Talent!.

  30. BuckyBadger says:
    January 16, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Just stop with this play calling stuff. The defense was to prevent Diggs from catching and getting out of bounds, something he should have had no chance of doing. Extra coverage deep is hard when the sidelines is the more probable goal of the offense. Players need to execute and Williams was given an easy tackle with a WR having to jump for a bad pass. The Saints got exactly what they needed to win the game and they didn’t execute. Don’t over think it.

    ———————————————————————————–

    Bad Pass? Really? Sounds like a typical Sour Grapes packer fan! That was “INTENTIONAL By Keenum!” He Gave Diggs an “Opportunity” to use his Superior Athletic Ability to Go Up and get the NEAR PERFECT PASS while angling out of bounds. However Diggs did Even Better by recognizing the situation to see that no one was going to catch him and Score!!! As Good as Farve was, he would not have been able to make that play with a Rocket Throw. (Probably would have been intercepted). The play called for some “TOUCH” which no one in the NFL has more of than On Your Case Keenum!

    By the way did anyone catch his dancing footwork on the other Third Down play to Diggs which resulted in a First and Goal? He had about 10 Full seconds to Keep the Play Alive and make the play? He is the New Fran Tarkenton!!! His Ability to keep plays alive are Unmatched in Football!

    It is time for people to get off his CASE and acknowledge his “GREATNESS!!!” His Arm Strength is only upper middle but that is Not necessary to be successful He just gets results!!! He is NOT a Backup but the All Time Career Passing Leader in the NCAA and SHOULD be Voted this years NFL MVP!!!!

    Finally Mr. packer mike florio referred MR. KEENUM as get this a “SCRUB” He and everyone else who doubts Keenum’s Preparation, Work Ethic, brains and Superior Quarterbacking Abilities, Obviously know little about football. They Said Tarkenton had a weak arm and yet he retired with nearly All The NFL Passing Records!!! Stick that where the sun don’t shine Mr. Florio and all the other Ignorant Haters!!! CASE IS FOR REAL!!!!!!!!!!.

  31. Keenum has the best touch throws in the NFL?? Really? The Vikings have not one but two of the top four WRs in the NFL? So who are they better then Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, AJ Green, OBJ, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, Devonte Adams, TY Hilton, Larry Fitzgerald,Jarvis Landry, DeMaryius Thomas and even Julian Edelman..I think you see my point. Diggs and Thielen are nice but neither is even in top 10.

  32. We all saw Payton celebrating like a little girl and counting his chickens before they hatched, but the media is giving him a pass.

  33. I root for the Saints more often than not, but to see Sean Payton mocking the clapping chant in Minnesota then have a bad defensive formation to lose the game was a bad look for a gererally likable team.

  34. 1phillyphan says:
    January 16, 2018 at 11:56 am

    Keenum has the best touch throws in the NFL?? Really? The Vikings have not one but two of the top four WRs in the NFL? So who are they better then Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, AJ Green, OBJ, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, Devonte Adams, TY Hilton, Larry Fitzgerald,Jarvis Landry, DeMaryius Thomas and even Julian Edelman..I think you see my point. Diggs and Thielen are nice but neither is even in top 10.
    ______

    Well, Thielen was second-team All-Pro so that puts him in the top four. Diggs missed some games with injuries so didn’t put up the same numbers but people around here generally acknowledge that Diggs and Thielen are very similar in terms of their route running, catching ability, athleticism, and production. It’s all a matter of opinion.

  35. hardly a bad play call. williams was in position to make the play; he blew it in as bad a way as can be blown. tackle diggs (in/out of bounds) = game over
    that was the vikes superbowl; enjoy the win. a bummer was to lose.
    a bad play call would have been preferred.

  36. Teddy we trust
    I love your Homer attitude we in Philly have it also but, your kinda off with your reasoning. I do think Adam is a great story and a good WR. He is second team all pro because he caught alot of passes THIS YEAR. Pierre Garcon lead the league in receptions a couple years back and also was showered with yearly awards. Is he an All Pro WR? Is he top 4? Most ( including myself) would say he isn’t even the best WR on his team. Enjoy his success and your teams success. Nobody with a working B ain puts him ag ad of Hopkins, OJB, Green, Fitz, Thomas ect. The Vikes have had a great year. Enjoy it for one more week. If we had Wentz it wouldn’t be a close game. With Nikki Foles we will still win but only by 7 instead of 14. SKOL…lol

  37. phillyphan –

    Like I said, it’s a matter of opinion. All-Pro voters don’t hand out the awards based on how many receptions you had. That’s why Jarvis Landry isn’t All-Pro. Thielen had two catches on Sunday that were worthy of anything any of the other best wide receivers in the NFL have done, and he did it while the other guys you mentioned were home watching on TV. This isn’t the first year he’s done it either. If he were a high draft pick and had a darker complexion, everyone would be saying he’s one of the best in the NFL. Let’s just say the Vikings have two really good wide receivers and it’s splitting hairs to try to rank order these great players.

  38. thetruthstings says:
    January 16, 2018 at 10:40 am

    “I believe that sometimes there can be 3-4 players in front of Diggs and STILL somehow he gets the Touchdown…….. easiest to catch balls ……… Case Keenum is not just a Starter but the TOP Quarterback and NFL MVP this YearMy Faith in God is Stronger than ever!!!
    _____________________
    There is so much material here. But I am unsure whether the OP is being honest or not.

  39. Teddy we trust…: Ill agree with that. Matter of Fact I stole Thielen in my Dynasty Fantasy League and won my league ( again.. Lol) so any player that gives me cash…um a fan. I do think the Vikings are a very good team with TWO very good WRs. But BOTH of our teams did benefit this year with Rodgers getting hurt the Falcons not playing as well as last year,Zeke Elliott getting hurt. The Vikings and Eagles ( especially with Wentz) are built to win for years to come. So we BOTH have reason to be happy. My sister lives in Red Wing, MN so this game ( ill be there) has extra meaning…I do love your attitude with living your team though…good luck next yr( I can’t wish u luck this yr obviously)

  40. 1phillyphan says:
    January 16, 2018 at 11:56 am
    Keenum has the best touch throws in the NFL?? Really? The Vikings have not one but two of the top four WRs in the NFL? So who are they better then Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, AJ Green, OBJ, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, Devonte Adams, TY Hilton, Larry Fitzgerald,Jarvis Landry, DeMaryius Thomas and even Julian Edelman..I think you see my point. Diggs and Thielen are nice but neither is even in top 10.

    0 7 Rate This

    ___________________________________________________________________________________
    Absolutely!!! It is not even close! Did you not see how PRETTY and Easy To Catch Keenum’s Balls are? Have you noticed his Footwork and Scrambling Abilities, Or his Ability to keep plays alive! Are you really comparing a washed up DeMaryius Thomas. Plus AJ Green Ty Hilton and Jarvis Landry??? WOW! Adams LOL. Larry Fitzgerald a Minnesota Boy has HAD a GREAT HOF Career, but is No Longer as good as Our Pair. Mike Evans??? Nope!!! Who the heck is he? DeAndre Hopkins? Good but NO! Odell Big Mouth is a Great Talent but a HEAD CASE. Scratch that HEADACHE!!! I do not want to use Beckham and Case in the Same Sentence!!! NOT A TEAM PLAYER! Do you Actually WATCH Football???

    Now Antonio Brown can Straight Up Ball!!! Will not argue with that cat. Finally we have Julio Jones. MAYBE but Not This Year! He was SILENT in Crunch Time!!! How did he do in Philly? Diggs and Thielen BOTH are Dominant in the most dire of circumstances. They Both are Superior Route Runners with Superior Hands, Drive and Football IQ. Did you watch the Game against the Saints?

    These guys are Still Young and Improving and both are “Team Players” Both are Humble and Gave Credit to God! I am so impressed with that. These Kids and Case are ALL Easy to Root For. I have Thielen and Brown 1-2 (Not Necessarily in that order) and Diggs, Jones 3-4. We have a SOLID COMPLETE UNSELFISH AND CARING TALENTED “TEAM”. This is our year… SKOL Vikings!!!

  41. Mathew Keen says:
    January 16, 2018 at 3:36 am

    Jim Schwartz would have NEVER let that happen.
    ))))))))))))))))))))))))
    Vikings remember Schwartz from Detroit. He aint that great.

  42. “purpleguy says:
    January 16, 2018 at 12:32 am
    If, if, if — NFL post-game analysis – where 20/20 hindsight is the norm. If Brees hadn’t thrown 2 picks, if the Saints DBs didn’t clutch and grab, if the Saints had converted on 3rd and 1 prior to their FG – if those variables which had an equal impact on the game’s outcome had not occurred, the Saints lousy prevent coverage wouldn’t be an issue now. It’s pretty hard to blame that Williams guy from 10,000 feet.”

    All of this and plus. If the referees had called the blatant offsides at 33 seconds left on the 3rd and 1. This would have ended the game.

  43. Just a reminder this isn’t the Marcus Williams from Hopkins MN that played with Wentz at NDSU. He is a cornerback for the Texans and has been in the league for 5 years. I’m a Bison fan so please stay off of his social media.

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