Oct 26, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Corey White (24) celebrates with teammates after intercepting the ball against the Green Bay Packers in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans defeated Green Bay 44-23. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Saints are coming off a most impressive 44-23 rout of the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. One might say that it was their best game of the season thus far. The Packers had little answer for the Saints running and passing game, and managed to go without punting a single time.
On paper, you might think that surrendering 491 total yards of offense to the Packers is horrid. You might also think that that constitutes a bad performance. Well you’re wrong.
The Saints defense was able to generate four sacks, two interceptions, and a forced/recovered fumble against the Packers potent offense. The defense was able to negate the Packers on third down efficiency, allowing only one third down conversion in seven attempts. They were further credited with five quarterback hits, five tackles for a loss, and four pass deflections/defenses. They were able to put the ball in Drew Brees’ hands, which in turn led to points.
Is this starting to sound familiar to anyone else?
As we approach the pivot point of the NFL season in Week 9, this Rob Ryan-led Saints defense suddenly starts to remind me of the 2009 unit. The 2009 Saints defense was statistically nothing to look at, as they were 20th in points allowed and 25th in total yards allowed. However, they showed up most when it mattered most. They were second in the NFL in turnovers, and developed a strong reputation for ‘ball-hawking’. They were simply able to make the right amount of plays needed at the right time.
Now, this current unit has more work to do to get to that specific level, as they are still towards the bottom of the league in terms of sacks, takeaways, and yards allowed. We also cannot exactly say that the ‘pick sixes’ like that of Darren Sharper are happening, but that’s okay.
What’s very encouraging is that this team followed up a strong defensive performance against the Detroit Lions with one that was even stronger, overcoming the bitter taste of a last-minute blown lead. Cam Jordan found major success in the sack department and Corey White earned a good bit of respect for having a major bounce back performance. Perhaps the most encouraging part of the Saints defense was some of the play of their depth, mainly Kasim Edebali (or not Will Smith in that #91), an undrafted rookie free agent from this year. Rob Ryan didn’t send ‘the house’ on the majority of his plays, which further speaks to the defensive line’s ability to surge.
The Saints defense continues to improve and heat up, and perhaps it’s at the best time possible. After all, if you go back to last week’s game against the Lions, the Saints defense has seven sacks, eleven quarterback hits, and five turnovers in the past two games against the NFC North opponents. They only had six sacks through five games before that. All of this continues to be done without the services of veteran safety Jairus Byrd, who was lost for the season due to a torn lateral meniscus at the beginning of October.
The main point I’m trying to make here is this: Last night showed that we don’t need to statistically repeat last year’s fourth ranked defense’s efforts, and we likely won’t. In the end, what matters most is the ability to generate sacks, create the turnovers, and responding to the big challenges when needed most from any player that is willing to get it.
The Saints defense will continue to be put to the test in the next coming weeks, facing the Carolina Panthers on the road as their next test.
I’m wondering where the ‘Fire Rob Ryan’ following is now?