New Orleans' change from Gregg Williams to Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator changes how the San Francisco 49ers are approaching their playoff rematch with the Saints in Week 12.
Williams was known for blitzing frequently and significantly compromising coverage to do so. Spagnuolo is known for showing greater discretion.
Pressure Percent: 5-plus Pass-Rushers
The chart shows the Saints deploying five-plus pass-rushers 29.3 percent of the time this season, down from 51.1 percent last season. The drop of 21.8 percentage points is the largest in the NFL.
Seattle also shows up in the top 10.
The Saints used added pressure 65.1 percent of the time against the 49ers in the divisional playoffs last season. Alex Smith completed 13 of 26 passes with two touchdowns, four sacks and a 28.4 Total QBR against the Saints in those situations last season. He completed 11 of 15 passes with a touchdown, no sacks and a 96.0 QBR score when New Orleans rushed him with four or fewer defenders.
Second-year pro Colin Kaepernick, not Smith, is expected to start for the 49ers against the Saints on Sunday. He has completed 9 of 17 passes for 137 yards with one touchdown, five first downs, one fumble and a 16.1 QBR score against five or more rushers. That included 6 of 9 passing for 100 yards with a touchdown, no sacks, three first downs and a 99.6 QBR score against Chicago in his lone start.
Kaepernick hasn't played enough for us to draw much meaning from those numbers.
Smith has completed 52 of 72 passes (72.2 percent) for 614 yards with eight touchdowns, one interception, three sacks, 38 first downs and an 83.6 QBR score against added pressure this season.
Some teams are pressuring at a higher rate this season. Coaching changes have influenced some of the numbers on both ends of the spectrum.
Indianapolis (plus-23), San Diego (plus-18.3), Atlanta (plus-6.6), Oakland (plus-5.1), St. Louis (plus-4.8), San Francisco (plus-4.5) and Miami (plus-2.7) are at the other end. They are the only teams increasing their pressure percentages by more than one point.