A lot of teams would like to have the Saints’ 4-2 record (tied atop the division) at this point in the season, but there are still plenty of reasons for concern in New Orleans.
The defense continues to be a below-average NFL unit. Really, in Sean Payton’s tenure, only the Super Bowl team had a good defense.
Yes, I know they were not a “lock-down” defense in every sense and that they benefited from opponents having to play catch up against New Orleans’ incredible offense that year, but they were not a liability.
That 2009 team pressured opposing quarterbacks and made plays.
The 2007 and 2008 defenses were notoriously bad; last year’s squad had better numbers, but the statistics were skewed by a weak schedule, and we all know what happened at Seattle.
This year’s defense does not look any better than those teams. They are good against neither the run or pass. They simply generate no pressure up front, and Gregg Williams’ blitzing has generally backfired.
The Saints’ defense is supposed to rely on speed, but their front seven doesn’t appear very quick; and while good defenses “fly to the ball,” the Saints seem to be guilty of a lot of over-pursuing.
The one impressive performance by the defense this year was at home against the Bears–only one of the worst offensive lines in NFL history.
The Saints offense is good again this year, but it is not as good as the Packers’, and it is not better than the Patriots’.
The Saints’ defense is inferior to both the Packers and Patriots (who have also struggled), and way behind several other playoff contenders. The defense must improve or the Saints cannot compete with upper echelon teams.
With all of the off-season talk about establishing a better run game and the selection of Mark Ingram in the first round of this year’s draft, the Saints still have a poor running game.
Mark Ingram has not shown much explosiveness, and there just seem to be few holes for any of the Saints’ backs to run through. By far the most effective runs have come from Sproles on the outside.
(I am of the opinion that Chris Ivory was the best pure running back the Saints have had since Deuce McCallister was in his prime, but that’s another story for another day.)