The Saints seem to be in a lot of trouble. After generating so much buzz about generating a pass rush from the linebacker position in the new 3-4 defense the Saints are implementing, Victor Butler and now Will Smith are out for the year. They traded for Parys Haralson but there is no telling what exactly he will bring to the table at this point. This is not even accounting for the fact that Kenyon Coleman, DE, is out and both Junior Galette and Martez Wilson have been dinged up recently. But, as we lament the linebacker position, something interesting has started to emerge from the Saints front three…pressure.
With all of the emphasis on the linebackers, people have overlooked the front three of the Saints defense. But, consistently, that is where the pressure has come from. While Cam Jordan is certainly the main contributor, Akiem Hicks, and rookie Johnathan Jenkins have all made some serious impact. This front line should give Saints fans reason for optimism, even in the face of so many injuries.
Let us not forget Glenn Foster, who has 4 sacks and 5 QB hits this preseason. This guy has been a pleasant surprise and will most certainly be in the rotation on the front line. Brodrick Bunkley has been solid and steady at nose tackle, where he will sub in and out with Jenkins. Even Tyrunn Walker shows promise and give the coaching staff trouble in deciding who stays and who goes on the defensive line.
Yes, in most 3-4 defenses, the linebackers are the primary pass rushers. But, as has been proved in the past and this preseason, Roman Harper is still a force to be reckoned with. And J.J. Watt with the Texans has proved pressure can come from a 3-4 defensive end. With Kenny Vaccaro still being a wildcard for Rob Ryan to through at the opponent’s offense, expect the Saints to be creative in how they get to the quarterback. Ultimately, though, I believe the front three will be vital to the Saint’s efforts in rushing the passer.