With both Vilma and Smith out, Porter gone, it feels like all Saints games will be a high scoring affair as long as the other teams can keep up with Brees and crew. And they'll have to. If so would it be a good assessment to say all Saints offensive players will see an uptick in production to keep their defense off the field and all capable offenses going against the Saints should see an uptick in production as well? Or the Saints defensive starters coming into Sunday won't miss a beat? I haven't seen any of the preseason game, any input appreciated.
I wish I had something definite here, but I can tell you what I've seen so far.
The D-Line is more emphasized. So are the LBs. The word is less predictability as Gregg Williams full out constant hellpellmell blitzing is out, freelancing d-linemen and LBs is in.
It's been too vanilla in the preseason to say anything definite but so far:
Former 1st round pick DE Cameron Jordan looks terrific. They have been playing Jordan in several positions, both sides and apparently he is loving it, he should be a 3 down player. So has this years top pick 3rd rounder DT Akiem Hicks, he looks like a serious find, just a rook but he will have an impact. Junior Gallette played lights out in preseason. - All three of these guys were in the opponents' backfield for much of their time this preseason.
Will Smith will be suspended of course. That's a hit but Gallette will be in there and they will use a rotation to fill in and that has worked well in the past.
The "losses" on the line include Rogers (Giants, but now injured and out for year) and Franklin (Chargers, he did not live up to hype, good to see him go).
Ellis remains in the middle and he is just damned good.
Vilma is out but the feeling here is that while everyone loves the guy and the defensive leadership he has brought (plus a SB ring) he's on a bum wheel and probably facing his last year...
....which brings us to CURTIS LOFTON. If Joseph for the Texans was the free agent signing of the year last year, Lofton might be that guy this year. Great speed, at every tackle, great skills, he's been awesome.
Martez Wilson is no longer a hybrid LB but he will be on the line; he and Lofton may be the two biggest stars on this defense and if they are effective the defense could truly improve for the first time since 2009.
The Saints lost Chamberlain, expected free agent starter OLB, that's a hit (the Saints basically exchanged Dunbar with the Rams for Chamberlain, oh well). Ruud was brought in to shore up depth, that should help but Ruud who used to be damned good might have lost some speed, especially after last year's injury, but supposedly he's good to go (we'll see). Shanle and Casillas may be filling in at OLB and both have started there before. Shanle's a bit of a weakness, especially on the pass but reliable. Casillas has a good rep. David Hawthorne comes in from Seattle as the other OLB, again should be an improvement over last year and for the first time in years, and I'm talking the 90s the Saints really seemed to invest time and effort and money on the LB squad. Hopefully this is a major upgrade over last year.
DB's: well the safeties Harper and Jenkins appeared to be at the ball and occasionally catching them in the preseason and at camp so that is a heck of an improvement right there. Porter's gone but the idea there is that Patrick Robinson is now due and in his prime. He used to get shook out his shoes but now he is looking more and more legit. Greer is as always reliable and cagey. Backups are kind of shaky, they just (and I mean like this week) brought in a couple journeymen at corner (Murphy and Bush). The backup CB situation is questionable: Johnny Patrick is often hurt and when not he's very inexperienced, plus there's another rookie draft pick Corey White so again very inexperienced.
You have a new Defensive Coordinator Spagnuolo, but the head coach and the interim head coach (who is also LBs coach) are suspended.
The biggest deficiency on defense last year was the total inability to get turnovers. That has to change.
What you said about the Saints being in shootout situations has been the case for a number of years now. Ideally if all goes well there will be an uptick in the running numbers (they were No. 6 in rushing last year anyway, which is nice), and hopefully the defense plays well enough to ensure they do not have to gun it constantly, but facts are the Saints had big leads last year and gunned it anyway, I don't think that will change. The Saints had more yards and more first downs and more passing yards than any team in history, literally; it seems pretty hard to bet against that.
Edited by SaintsInDome2006, 07 September 2012 - 10:47 AM.