Know Your Enemy: Buccaneers vs. Saints
By James Yarcho
What weaknesses have you seen in the defense, which is still struggling? Is it in need of a full overhaul or are the Saints just a few pieces away from getting that defense back on track?
The strange thing about this defense is that every week the problem seems to lie somewhere else. Early in the season, the team had an absolutely abysmal pass rush. Then came a few games in which their LBs were badly exposed in coverage and against the run. And in the last few weeks, it’s been a struggling secondary. The pass rush has recently improved, and Dannell Ellerbe’s return greatly improved the LB play. But the unit still struggles to contain teams.
Early in the season the team had a problem with playing the full 48 minutes. They’d often fall apart in the second half or 4th quarter. Now, suddenly, they’re a very strong second half unit. But to the ire of Saints fans, the team consistently gives up huge plays on 3rd-and-long. Against the pass, the unit really struggles.
The question of how far away the defense is from “getting back on track” is contentious. On the one hand, there’s no position group that you can say is abhorrently weak. The team has solid depth at just about every position, besides maybe DE. And DE Cam Jordan is the unit’s best player, so it’s hard to call the position weak. The problem, on the other hand, is that the team has no game-breaking players. Jordan is very good, and has been playing some of his best football of late. But he’s always been more of a disciplined rusher. He excels against the run and can occasionally struggle to make an impact against the pass.
I am of the belief that a few impact players at DE, MLB, and possibly CB can pull this defense up out of the gutters. And the team has some talent on IR at CB, and possibly at DE as well. I more than understand the desire for an overhaul, but I don’t think most Saints fans feel that way.