Dec 4, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (59) hits Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) as he throws during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Saints Weakside Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe vs. Buccaneers Quarterback Jameis Winston
A, article earlier this week here at Big Easy Believer asked if Saints weakside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was this season’s MVP on defense — despite missing 7 of his team’s 12 games. (Click HERE to read that article).
The main reason for the question asked in that article was because of how much more effective this defense has been when Ellerbe is in the lineup.
Regardless, Ellerbe has had a fine season thus far, seemingly always around the ball, providing the solid pass coverage that he has excelled at his whole career, and even contributing 4 sacks and numerous QB pressures.
With Buccaneers star running back Doug Martin and their other backs struggling with injury issues, Ellerbe’s key role in this game may not be his coverage abilities, but rather his ability to pressure Jameis Winston.
Dec 13, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA;Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) throws the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa’s passing game often calls for Winston to hold on to the ball longer than, for example, the Lions game plan did with Matthew Stafford last week. Winston has the athletic ability to avoid pressure long enough to get the ball down the field, and the Saints will need to pressure him into mistakes.
Cam Jordan, who traditionally has played well against the Bucs, Sheldon Rankins and Nick Fairley are solid pass rushers, but will be matched up against an underrated Tampa Bay offensive line. Ellerbe’s ability as a blitzer has been on full display in coordinator Dennis Allen’s aggressive scheme, and look for an increase in blitz calls for Ellerbe in this one.
He can match Winston athletically, and with fellow linebacker Craig Robertson injured and possibly missing the game, Allen will likely want fast pressure on the young Bucs QB, hopefully forcing him into game changing sacks or mistakes.
One quick note before we go: The ULTIMATE match-up in tomorrow evening’s contest might very well be the Saints players versus THEMSELVES.
Dec 4, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Coby Fleener (82) drops a touchdown pass as Detroit Lions free safety Glover Quin (27) defends during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Last week’s “must win” game in the Dome in which this New Orleans team came out “flat” only highlighted that this team — while progressing nicely — still has a long way to go to be consistently competitive among the League’s upper echelon or “elite” teams.
Last weekend’s loss to the Lions was a regression for this young squad because of the WAY that it happened (an uninspired performance when they should have been genuinely motivated to play well).