Saints News

Is the Saints secondary becoming primary?

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 11: Delvin Breaux #40 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after making an interception in the end zone during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 11, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 11: Delvin Breaux #40 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after making an interception in the end zone during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 11, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) /
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The New Orleans Saints defensive backs of recent memory are usually thought of as third or fourthdary more so than secondary.

 The unit has and is considered one the weakest areas on the New Orleans Saints. There is obviously plenty of blame to go around being the secondary is consistently ranked in the bottom five over the last three or four seasons.

The play from this area of the team has been so dismal that it brings me back to the days of Fred Thomas playing his heart out with a cast on.

The focus — to Coach Payton’s credit — has really been zeroing in on improving this unit after that record-breaking 2012 catastrophe of a season. The hiring of former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and the signing of DB Keenan Lewis gave promising results in 2013.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – OCTOBER 26: Randall Cobb
NEW ORLEANS, LA – OCTOBER 26: Randall Cobb /

The team made the playoffs and the defense ranked in the top ten for the first time in a while. The Saints were trending upward, with the addition of former Bills All-Pro Safety Jairus Bird in free agency.  

NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 24: Jairus Byrd
NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 24: Jairus Byrd /

The Saints didn’t stop there as they proceeded to draft the next Richard Sherman in DB Stanley Jean-Baptiste. So they thought. The unthinkable happened to New Orleans as they took a swan dive and were grounded by the broken wings of Jairus Bird.

The culmination of a career ending injury to productive CB Jabari Greer depleted the position further. The 56 million dollar bird man only played four games and Stanley Jean-Baptiste turned into a phantom in the Saints secondary.

ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 8: Stedman Bailey
ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 8: Stedman Bailey /

 The Saints defensive secondary broke more futility records in 2015 before making the change at defensive coordinator (Dennis Allen). They showed some improvement in 2016.  

The injuries begin to mount in an unfortunate circumstance which landed the Saints with the #11 overall pick in the 2017 draft. 

The Saints, persistent as ever, moved forward. They added DB’s through the draft or as undrafted college free agents to revamp the secondary. Those names included: PJ Williams, Delvin Breaux, Damian Swann, Vonn Bell, Ken Crawley, Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Williams, Arthur Maulet and De’Vante Harris. 

As the old adage goes “Things usually get worse before they get better”.

With the drafting of top CB prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft Marshon Lattimore and dual threat hard-hitting safety Marcus Williams, Coach Payton can envision a major upswing with the unit in 2017. It should be noted that this the first time in the Sean Payton era, that he selected secondary players in the 1st & 2nd rounds.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 27: Marshon Lattimore of Ohio State reacts after being picked #11 overall by the New Orleans Saints during the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 27: Marshon Lattimore of Ohio State reacts after being picked #11 overall by the New Orleans Saints during the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

With this new injection of youth and good fortune on the injury side of things, the Saints look to shore up the back end of the defense.  The commitment to finally fix the secondary will play a major role this season as the saints gear up for a deep playoff run.

It does appear like the Saints are duplicating personnel from the 2009 secondary that help secure the city’s 1st & only Super Bowl. 

Marshon Lattimore is a young and injured Mike McKenzie. Delvin Breaux can be the next Jabari Greer.  P.J. Williams has the size and skill to be Tracy porter. Sterling Moore is sure and steady like Randell Gay.  Von Bell is our young Malcolm Jenkins & Kenny Vaccaro is roman Harper with coverage ability. 

We are wishing, hoping and praying Marcus Williams can be half of what Darren Sharper brought that year. With all this talent &  the coaching of Aaron Glen the saints secondary is primed to make a serious impact.

D.C. Contributed To This Report

 

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