Top Five New Orleans Saints Defensive Playmakers in 2015
By Jake White
The New Orleans Saints have always had a high-powered offense under Sean Payton, but the year the Saints won the Super Bowl they had a good defense and playmakers in all areas of the defense. They put pressure on the ball and created a lot of turnovers, which helped the offense become more explosive and well-balanced. The Saints defense lacked in all phases of defense last year, they struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and create turnovers. However, this year is going to be different. With the additions in free agency, the draft, and veterans coming back off injury there should be a lot more playmakers to help the defense shine in the upcoming year. That being said, here are the top five playmakers that I believe will step up and help the New Orleans Saints defense become intimidating and ball-hawking like it once was.
Athletic, smart, instinctive, ball skills, and can cover is what teams are looking for out of their middle linebackers. The Saints got that with the 31st pick in this year’s draft. Standing at 6 foot 3 inches, weighing 245 pounds and running a 4.56 forty yard dash, Stephone Anthony is the prototype middle linebacker. He is a great blitzer, run stuffer, tackler, and has all the tools to become one of the best at his position. He seems to be the perfect fit in Rob Ryan’s system. He has already caught coach’s eyes by his play on the field during camp. He made an athletic interception last week that was considered the play of the day. Expect more of those types of plays to happen in the upcoming season.
Next is another new addition to the Saints and that would be the big cornerback Brandon Browner. He is a back to back Super Bowl champion that will bring a presence to secondary that will give them that edge they was missing last year. This guy is a heavy hitter and a great leader and communicator on the field. Last year it seemed like the secondary was not talking enough and kept getting their signals crossed, with the addition of Browner I don’t see that happening. This guy is long and a great press corner, which Rob Ryan loves in his corners. With Keenan Lewis and Browner on the outside it’s going to be tough for opposing quarterbacks. They will cause the quarterback to hold on the ball a little longer giving the Saints pass rushers more time to get to him. The additions of Browner, Breaux, Williams, Swann, and Wilson the cornerback position went from one of the Saints most vulnerable position to one of it’s best.
A hard-hitting safety that is versatile and can cover is always a good thing to have. That is exactly what Kenny Vaccaro is. He had an off-year last year, but he was coming off injury and was never one hundred percent the whole year after hurting his hamstring in week one. Expect him to have a bounce back year and be the dominant first round pick everyone knows he is. Having reliable corners on the outside should help him tremendously. I think a lot of his problems last year came from not just his injury, but having to help and worry about others that were on the field might have affected his game some. Vaccaro will come back on a mission to prove that he is one of the top safeties in the league this year.
The 60 million dollar man, Cameron Jordan is the next playmaker on my list. Like most New Orleans Saints defensive players he had an off-year last year when you look at his stats, but he also got the most attention when it came to defensive lineman. He stayed getting doubled teamed and seemed to be the main focus of most team’s offensive lines. He is a very versatile defensive lineman and good when it comes to rushing the passer and playing the run. Hopefully with this new deal it helps take some pressure off him and he can just go out there and play like he did in 2013. He is easily the Saints best defensive lineman and they will need him to have a great season and step up, especially if Junior Galette is out for a significant period of time.
The best playmaker and top ball-hawk on the New Orleans Saints team is Jairus Byrd. His season was cut short last year due to a knee injury, which really hurt the Saints secondary. Some people were saying Byrd and Vaccaro could be the best safety tandem in the NFL. However, they really didn’t have a chance to grow their chemistry together because Byrd didn’t get to have a full training camp last year and then he got hurt during the season. If Byrd is able to stay healthy the Saints secondary could easily be one of the top in the NFL. Having only played in four games last year he still had a lot of plays that stood out to me. The hustle play against Atlanta to strip the ball from Julio Jones before he got in the end zone might have been the best defensive play of the whole year. As long as Byrd can stay healthy expect big things out of him this year.
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