6 areas that will make or break the 2016 New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints finished as the league’s second-worst run defense in 2015 after allowing 129.8 rushing yards per game (or 4.9 yards per rush). Between the Rob Ryan and Dennis Allen defenses, the black and gold gave up 2,071 total rushing yards. It didn’t matter who the team faced last season, the defense was the equivalent of a hot knife through butter.
If you cite the Sporting Charts, the Saints were the worst team in the league when it came to big plays given up on the ground. By their count, there was a total of 68 times the team gave up a rushing play of 10 yards or more. Fundamental football around tackling wasn’t in the mix, as there seemed to be more of an emphasis of creating turnovers over bringing the man down.
The team invested many resources into improving their defensive line, and it looks to offer a big payoff with Nick Fairley and Sheldon Rankins anchoring the front line as 3-technique defensive tackles to help eat the space. The Saints also wisely had a linebacker makeover after picking up James Laurinaitis, Craig Robertson, and Nathan Stupar, and moved over Stephone Anthony to the team’s SAM (or strong side) linebacker.
Next: Getting after the quarterback