We're counting down the six best reasons the Saints are going to kick the Falcons' ass on Sunday. The first reason? Jimmy Graham.
(via Football Schedule)
To be more specific, one major reason the Saints should beat the Falcons for the 14th of 17 games since 2006 is the matchup of Graham vs the Falcons' secondary, specifically Atlanta safety William Moore.
Moore has been a mainstay of the Falcons' defensive backfield since 2010, which is also when Jimmy Graham arrived in New Orleans. Since then, Graham has played the Falcons eight times, catching 35 passes for 500 yards and seven touchdowns. Those are big numbers, obviously, and facing off against Moore, a solid if unspectacular player (especially in coverage) is one reason Jimmy has managed to produce them.
It's no surprise that the Falcons sought to upgrade their secondary by signing the Saints' third safety, Rafael Bush, only to have Mickey Loomis use Loomis Math
to thwart Atlanta's plans. Bush, a physical safety, like Moore, though probably with better coverage skills, would have given the Falcons more flexibility as they try to avoid being stomped by him yet again.
Instead, they can expect more of this:
This is a play from the second Saints/Falcons game of 2013. Jimmy Graham — lined up at true tight end, by the way, on the line — is matched up on William Moore, and Graham makes an absolute mockery of Moore. He beats Moore with his route-running. He outruns him down the sideline. And then he simply outmuscles him physically, dragging Moore into the endzone. (Jimmy then broke the Falcons' goal post and caused the league to outlaw goal post dunks. Oh well.)
Plays like this one are why those fans and writers who opine about Jimmy Graham's perceived softness, or grumble that he might be overrated, are simply wrong. Above, Graham does everything a great offensive weapon can do, and provides his team with the points that ultimately resulted in a win.
There is little reason to expect things to change this Sunday. Even if the Falcons are improved from the 4-12 team of 2013, with a better defense than they put on the field last year, they'll still have the same matchup issues vs Graham they've had for the duration of his career.
And if, as you might wonder, the Falcons choose to mimic the infamous Patriots' strategy of putting a number one cornerback on Jimmy — well, this isn't 2013
. That's exactly the sort of choice the likes of Brandin Cooks are hoping for.