METAIRIE, La. — Newton’s third law of motion states, basically, that for every action, there is a reaction of equal and opposite force.
Taken in the context of football, a dynamic and powerful offense can help lead to a tough and rugged defense.
On the other hand, a weak and sieve-like defense can help lead to an overburdened and overwhelmed offense.
For those who follow the New Orleans Saints, you might recognize the latter formula.
New Orleans’ defense is on a historically dreadful tear, on pace to allow the most yards in NFL history (7,595) by nearly 800 yards while it’s on the road to giving up the most points (494) in franchise history by seven points.
And yet, those on offense said they don’t feel any more pressure to score than they normally do.
“We’ve always won games 40-30-something,” quarterback Drew Brees said Thursday. “The way I look at it is we’re a 30-40 point a game offense. So, regardless of what’s happening on the defensive side of the ball, I know that our execution needs to be what our standard is.”
However, heading into Monday night’s home game against Philadelphia (3-4), the 2-5 Saints know the template to win or lose thanks to Sunday’s lopsided loss at Denver, when New Orleans managed just 252 total yards while giving up 530.
While the Saints are fifth in the NFL in total offense, their balance is askew thanks to the league’s worst running offense.
Though they may not openly be putting pressure on themselves, they’re undoubtedly unhappy with their output this season.
“We’re used to being more productive than we’ve been this year,” right tackle Zach Strief said. “A lot of that is attributed to our inability to have balance.”
The Saints have scored 190 points through seven games this season, their second-lowest total since 2009. And the common theme with 2010, when New Orleans put up only 147 points in the opening seven games, is that the running game has struggled.
In 2010, the Saints were averaging only 92.6 yards per game on the ground. It’s exactly 20 yards per game worse in 2012.
The lack of confidence in the run game was evident against Denver, when on four plays of third-and-three or less, New Orleans chose passing plays instead of runs. All four failed, none of the passes even being completed.
“It makes things harder on everybody,” Strief said. “So it continues to be a focus. It continues to be something that we’re working very hard at. Obviously we’re not there yet. It’s certainly not something that we’ve given up on or that we have decided we’re not good enough to do. We just have to figure out the right pieces and get the running game more consistent.”
Receiver Lance Moore agrees, saying the defense alone isn’t to blame for the team’s troubles in 2012.
“Offensively we have to play better in order to help our defense,” Moore said. “If we’re making more plays on third down then they’re not on the field quite as long. If we’re scoring more points, then their confidence in playing with the lead will be a lot better. It goes both ways. You can’t just look at their statistics and blame that totally on them.
"It’s a team game. Those points are scored on all of us. It’s not just our defense.”