Saints Defensive Turnaround Should Be Praised


Dec 8, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) celebrates with teammate outside linebacker Junior Galette (93) after sacking Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (not pictured) during the first half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

La’Roi Glover, Joe Johnson, and Darren Howard. For any seasoned Saints fan, this means only one thing. Terror on the defensive line. This season, Saints fans were reminded what a fearsome tandem can bring to the table, as the Saints amassed their most team sacks since 2001, and the most under Sean Payton. The team’s record belongs to that outstanding 2000 club, which saw La’Roi Glover lead the league in sacks with 17. Glover was complimented with Joe Johnson (12) and Darren Howard (11) helping as ‘sack artists’.

We often talk about the change of one player, or that one coach who makes the difference for a team during the course of a season. Rob Ryan proved to be that person. The Saints duo of Pro-Bowler Cam Jordan and Junior Galette (who should be in the Pro Bowl) got the job done. Of the 49 regular season sacks the Saints had, Galette (12) and Jordan (12.5) accounted for half of those.

"“I know one thing — I’m betting on Junior Galette, I think he’s going to be special. I do. People can say whatever they want. He ain’t sneaking up on anybody, but they’re not going to be able to block him, either.” -Rob Ryan (8/6/13)"

Courtesy of, it’s worth pointing out the Rob Ryan Defense took the least amount of defensive snaps of any team in the NFL for 2013.

Compare that to the 2012 season, when the Steve Spagnoulo defense took the third most defensive snaps, just behind the Jaguars and Browns. Yikes.

All in all, many things changed with the addition of Rob Ryan. The Saints finished the season ranked 2nd overall in passing yards (194.1/game) and 19th in rushing yards (111.6/game). If you mentally blocked out last season, it was dead last in rushing yards (147.6/game) & 31st in passing yards (292.6/game). We have guys like Keenan Lewis and Parys Haralson to thank there. Here’s some other categories that show the improvement year over year.

We can’t praise Rob Ryan enough for what he was able to do to help the Saints this season. If you had to beef about anything, it would be the turnover drought. However, overall, given the injuries to all of the starters over the course of the season – Victor Butler, Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Kenyon Coleman, Patrick Robinson, Jabari Greer, Kenny Vaccaro, and Parys Haralson – the Saints defensive turnaround from a season ago may have been the best in NFL history.

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