New Orleans Saints defense could surprise with cracks in Arizona Cardinals O-Line


When a defense is able to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks, it usually helps the secondary.  It’s simple football.  Apply pressure and force the quarterback to make mistakes.

The New Orleans Saints open up the regular season on the road Sunday in a tough matchup with the Arizona Cardinals of the NFC West.  Because of injuries in the secondary and a void left by the troubled Junior Galette, who led the Saints with 22 sacks over the past two seasons, question marks continue to surround Rob Ryan‘s unit.

However, between injuries and suspensions, Arizona could very well have some problems of their own on Sunday.  Starting right tackle Bobby Massie will miss the first two games of the season after being suspended for violating the NFL‘s substance abuse policy.  He’ll join Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati on the sideline, who will miss several weeks with a knee injury.

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The New Orleans Saints’ pass rush struggled mightily at getting into the backfield and after opposing quarterbacks during the preseason.  But Arizona’s setbacks could give guys like Pro Bowl defensive end Cam Jordan and rookie linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha (or anybody for that matter) an opportunity to test these less experienced offensive lineman.

Sacks aren’t even all that necessary Sunday, although they wouldn’t hurt.  Just getting into the backfield and applying pressure on Carson Palmer in hopes of him making questionable reads and forcing bad throws could do the trick.  Get into the backfield and let the secondary take it form there — that is how the turnover battle is won.  And the last time I checked, when a team wins the turnover battle, that team usually wins the game.

Whether it’s taking down the quarterback, making him feel pressured, or just simply making a stop behind the line of scrimmage, the pass rush will be critical Sunday, as well as the rest of the season.  With holes in the Cardinals’ offensive line, the opportunity couldn’t be better for the New Orleans Saints’ defense — they must take advantage.

Of course, if the front seven does its job and applies that necessary pressure, it will be up to an injury-plagued secondary to do their part and make the plays.  A 1-0 start on the road is not a bad way to begin the season, but it won’t be easy.  The two teams square off in the desert on Sunday at 3:05 PM CST.  Arizona is currently the favorite to win at home.

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