Saints Secondary Quiets Opposing Receivers
By Greg Barber
Night and day - that is the difference in the New Orleans Saints defense between the 2012 season and the 2013 season. Of course, everyone has heard about the historically bad 2012 Saints defense allowing a multitude of yards and being one of the main reasons the team went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
The Saints secondary was so terrible that season to the point where it became hard to watch. Opposing receivers would roam freely in the secondary and defensive backs would be nowhere near the receiver when the pass got to him.
Fast forward to 2013 and a lot has changed for the Saints.
Everyone knows about the return of head coach Sean Payton from his suspension and Rob Ryan taking over the defense, but the real stories are those that deal with the players themselves. There is a new life and attitude in the defense because it is playing a defensive scheme that plays much more to the strengths of the players.
Right now, the Saints are playing a 4-2-5 defense - some call it a Big Nickel - and in most situations, they will only rush four lineman and drop the linebackers back into coverage.
It is more of a man-zone scheme as the secondary plays with the corners, playing man coverage and safeties drop into zone coverage with the linebackers.
So far, the Saints defense ranks sixth overall and fifth against the pass, allowing only 192 passing yards per game.
Here is a little information about each player of the secondary:
Player Comb Total Assist Sck Fumb Int
Kenny Vaccaro 21 19 2 0.0 0 1
Rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro has lived up to expectations as a first round pick and his versatility, intelligence and attitude brought a lot of life into the Saints secondary. He will be a leader on this defense for a long time to come.
Jabari Greer 16 15 1 0.0 0 1
Jabari Greer has played well compared to last season, which was the worst season he has had in his career. He is not the same corner from a couple years ago, but he is still a pretty decent cover corner.
Malcolm Jenkins 18 11 7 0.0 1 1
Malcolm Jenkins is the ultimate teammate, and he has been a leader on the team over the past four years. At the same time, however, he has been the ultimate boom or bust player. Jenkins has literally made a bad play and a game saving play in the same game. So far, he is playing very well this year and he is performing like the player the Saints thought he would be when they drafted him.
Roman Harper 9 8 1 0.0 0 1
Roman Harper has been hurt the last two games, but he is having a good season so far. He even made a game saving interception against the Atlanta Falcons. Hopefully, Harper will be back soon because the team can sure use him.
Keenan Lewis 9 8 1 0.0 1 1
Lewis is a free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers and has played well so far this season, but sometimes he has technique issues when covering a receiver. Luckily, it has not burned him yet. Lewis will continue to make plays, and he will get better covering man-to-man as the season goes on.
Rafael Bush 11 5 6 0.0 0
Rafael Bush has been reliable and at best, is not giving up big plays. While he is not making big plays either, he does his job all in all.
Corey White 4 4 0 0.0 0
Corey White is a good player with a lot of potential and is a significant corner who Rob Ryan loves and has a lot of confidence in no matter what happens on a play. He just has to keep getting better, and I can see him becoming a No. 1 or No. 2 corner in the future.
Chris Carr 5 2 3 0.0 0 1
Chris Carr is a nine-year veteran that has been a journeyman. He was with the Saints during training camp before being cut and then brought back again after Patrick Robinson got put on injured reserve. Carr has also been another player who has played very well and he has been a strong addition to the secondary.
Rod Sweeting 1 0 1 0.0 0
Rod Sweeting is another rookie who will possibly be a major player in the secondary in the future. He has not played a lot so far this season, but from what he showed in the preseason, there is some serious potential there. Hopefully, Rob Ryan can get it out of him.
Isa Abdul-Quddus 2 2 0 0.0 0
Isa Abdul-Quddus has been hurt since Week 1 and hopefully, he will be back soon.
Patrick Robinson 2 1 1 0.0 0
Patrick Robinson was placed on Injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season.
Overall, every player in this secondary has played a part in the success this defense has experienced so far in 2013. If they keep it up, this defensive unit will be a significant part in leading the Saints back to the Super Bowl.