Kenny Vaccaro looking to do big things for New Orleans Saints in 2015


New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro will admit it — 2014 wasn’t his best NFL outing.  In fact, he ended up riding the bench eventually.  Indeed, it was the definition of what we all call a “sophomore slump.” But it seems as if the entire defense was in a depression last season.

The Black and Gold were second to last in total defense, highlighted by an atrocious performance by a secondary that allowed 251.2 yards per game through the air and 26 touchdowns.  I like to call it miscommunication on all ends of the spectrum.

I’m not going to sit here and bash on Kenny Vaccaro.  What’s in the past is in the past.  He didn’t have much help after All-Pro safety Jairus Byrd landed on injured reserve just four weeks into the season.  Plus, for most of the year, Vaccaro was rebounding from broken ankle surgery after suffering the setback toward the end of his rookie campaign, which forced him to miss out on the postseason.  Injuries like that are tough to bounce back from.

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2015 is a new year, and at full health with a potentially dangerous secondary to play alongside after some key free agent acquisitions, the former Texas Longhorn will be looking to get back on track and shine like he did in 2013 when he was named to the all-rookie team.  With more experience, he could have a huge season.

The skill set of Kenny Vaccaro is undeniable — he’s fast, explosive, physical and possesses the uncanny ability to stretch the field from sideline to sideline.  There is a Pro Bowl athlete in this kid.  Coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis didn’t draft him with the team’s first pick for nothing.

With Keenan Lewis, Jairus Byrd and Brandon Browner set to play with Vaccaro, we could see some serious success in that unit.  John Hendrix, our co-editor at Who Dat Dish, hit the nail on the head:

"“If there’s anyone that is going to benefit from the addition of veteran Brandon Browner, it’d be Kenny Vaccaro. Now, I understand that safety and cornerback are two totally opposite spots. However, think about it like this. The addition of Browner gives the Saints a true cover corner to line up opposite of Keenan Lewis. Both will look to play a lot of press coverage. Vaccaro can focus on multiple roles without necessarily having to provide over the top safety help, assuming Jairus Byrd is that help, and the slot/nickel corner (or additional safety) also provides coverage.”"

Look, I can’t sit here and say the Saints will return to 2013 form.  They proved to be a 7-9 team last year, so fixing the kinks will indeed take some work.  But I do think this secondary has the best talent we’ve seen in the Big Easy since the team’s historic Super Bowl run in 2009-10.

Bolstering up the pass rush will be critical in this year’s draft.  It’s quite simple actually — disrupt the quarterback, help the secondary.  There are ball hawks in New Orleans, and they’re starving.  Kenny Vaccaro may be the hungriest of them all.  He’s still young, and with a high ceiling, his potential is almost endless.

Another thing I might add is the addition of Dennis Allen, who will be taking over a role called “senior defensive assistant.”  If you remember, Allen played a key role as the Saints’ secondary coach before taking his talents to the Denver Broncos, then eventually on to the Oakland Raiders.

Allen was the guy in command of that unit when the team brought the Lombardi Trophy home to New Orleans.  His discipline and knowledge alongside Rob Ryan‘s aggressiveness could help Kenny Vaccaro tremendously in the development of his game.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the safety continues to adapt at the next level.  The draft is just around the corner, followed by organized team activities, then it’s on to training camp.  The new season will be here in no time, and the Saints’ secondary is taking shape.  Kenny Vaccaro will be looking to do big things in 2015.

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