Aug 23, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Brian Dixon (44) makes an interception in the end zone against Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Josh Lenz (11) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s face it — the miscommunication on defense has been horrendous through two weeks for the New Orleans Saints. This “no-fly zone” secondary that we speak of has yet to show its face, but the mistakes can be fixed.
The cornerbacks have been getting exposed. Even Keenan Lewis has been uncharacteristic up to this point, but no worries — he will rebound. It’s the other side of the field that should not yet be, but is beginning to cause panic across the Who Dat Nation.
I, myself am not going to point any fingers because the defense plays as a whole. We can look at the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks as well. Giving the offense enough time to make choice decisions can be a burden on the defensive backs, but there really is no excuse for the porous play during the first two games.
With a favorable matchup against the Minnesota Vikings for the home opener this Sunday, should Sean Payton and Rob Ryan try something new? And by new, I’m talking rookie cornerbacks Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Brian Dixon.
Keeping Keenan Lewis out of the conversation and maybe Corey White, can the two fresh faces do any worse than the remaining corner(s)? Okay, it’s coming out — Patrick Robinson has been getting exposed. It’s mice to men for him when on the field with opposing offenses.
While P-Rob is not the only problem on the defensive side of the ball, he’s certainly been the most apparent. Payton and Ryan will likely give him one more shot on Sunday before he becomes closer friends with the bench, but I do believe upping the playing time of Dixon and SJB (if active) would be a good decision by the coaching staff.
Jean-Baptiste was the Saints’ second-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, but struggled a bit during the preseason. However, rookie mistakes are expected from rookie players. His time at the University of Nebraska was exceptional with frequent displays of shutdown ability, which is one of the reasons why New Orleans called upon his talents.
While the speed to match up with some of the NFL’s quicker receivers is not there, the 6-foot-3 former wideout has the length, balance, ball skills and ability to jump routes, deeming him an impressive prospect for the future of the organization.
Dixon, an undrafted free agent out of Northwest Missouri State looked nothing less than impressive during the preseason, beating out guys like Trevin Wade, Rod Sweeting and even 12-time Pro Bowl CB Champ Bailey. His toughness and competitiveness could grant him well at the next level. Dixon brings great size, speed and press ability and also has experience at free safety.
While nothing is guaranteed, the Saints should have Sunday’s game in the bag, so why not give these younger guys a little test against the Vikings? Of course, rookies are prone to the mental errors that come with making the transition from college to the pros, but can they really do any worse than what we’ve seen so far?
I’m not saying to start one of the newbies opposite Keenan Lewis — I do think Corey White should hold that duty though. I’m just flirting with the idea of using them more often in nickel and dime packages and maybe occasionally on the outside to give the two a little practice. With Adrian Peterson out, Minnesota will likely be relying on the passing game, so now is a good chance to get that experience in against a lackluster air attack.
Sunday’s contest between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings is just days away, so regardless of who starts where, it will be interesting to see what sort of adjustments have been made to improve the Black and Gold’s struggling defense. It’s time to turn things around, Who Dat Nation.