METAIRIE, La. ― Through six plays in New Orleans’ preseason opener at New England, the Saints had compiled minus-1 yard in total offense and quarterback Drew Brees was sacked once and pressured another time.
The offensive line was giving up space through the middle and Pro Bowl right tackle Jon Stinchcomb was giving up room on the outside.
But then came the third series after the offensive line made some minor adjustments on the sideline.
The result – a 20-play, 86-yard scoring drive that ate up 10 minutes of the game clock and culminated with a 2-yard Reggie Bush touchdown run.
“We’ve played together,” Stinchcomb said. “After you make a couple of adjustments and come to the sideline and see some (pictures) of what we’re doing, we’re able to make those changes that lead to success on the field.”
Opponents sacked New Orleans quarterbacks only 20 times in 2009, fourth fewest in the NFL. And since 2006, Head Coach Sean Payton’s first year with the team, quarterbacks have gone down only 72 times, second fewest over that period of time.
Yet, when one guy isn’t completing his job on the offensive line, the overall play becomes a failure. It’s also the only time linemen are generally noticed.
“You have to work together as a group,” Stinchcomb said. “One player breaks down and it looks bad on all of us. It’s not one of those situations where you can hide. It’s a very fine line when it comes to what succeeds and what turns to failure.”
“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “The thing about good offensive line play is that you need five guys in concert with each other.”
He added, “We will learn from those mistakes. It’s a group that we return all of our starters. We feel like it is one of our stronger positions.”