It wasn’t an outright ugly performance. In fact, there were many positive signs from the defense that show they are ready to take a step forward. The young guys and backups made some plays and showed signs that better times are coming for the defense of the Black and Gold. But will those improvements come in time?
New Orleans hasn’t necessarily had it easy in the preseason. Thursday’s loss to the Browns makes it 10 straight losses in those exhibition games. Be it just a lack of execution or a lack of talent, the team just can’t seem to win in August.
However, looking past that bad stat, I think Who Dat Nation can say they learned something from this most recent defeat. That lesson is we still have a little way to go on defense.
The offense, while rather unimpressive in Thursday’s contest, will be just fine. Quarterback Drew Brees and running backs Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram will make sure of that. We even saw flashes of excellence from Alvin Kamara out of the backfield. He has seemingly taken hold of the Joker position that Sean Payton loves to utilize. While Ted Ginn Jr. looked pretty abysmal, there were other receivers who showed some excellence, most notably Tommylee Lewis.
Some good on defense
Even on defense, there were some good plays made and some players who stepped up when needed. The defensive line looked excellent for the most part, especially the play of Sheldon Rankins and Alex Okafor. Rankins looks like he could step in and fill the void a little more now that Nick Fairley is gone. Okafor could very well have cemented his place opposite defensive end Cam Jordan.
The secondary looked fine mostly, apart from Damian Swann being burned on a 4th and 2 late in the game. The coaching staff didn’t exactly put him in a great position, however. He was left in one-on-one coverage with absolutely ZERO help behind him. Late collapses and getting beat with the deep ball, however, have been things that have doomed the Saints in recent history.
Payton not standing pat
Apparently, Sean Payton is still looking to spice things up and see if there are better quality players on the market. The team, on Saturday, signed five players, 3 of them being on the defensive side of the ball. Although the defensive line looked pretty solid, the team still brought in veterans defensive tackle John Hughes and defensive end Jason Jones. The Saints also seem to be looking to experiment with their defensive backfield depth as well, bringing in Malik Foreman, an undrafted free agent in 2017.
Sean Payton says not to read too much into it apparently, as far as a sign of the team making all these moves in distress.
"“Periodically, we’ll bring in a large group of players to work out. We’re early enough in camp to see these guys have done some good things on film, had good grades on them, so we wanted to look at them.”"
Whatever Payton says, he knows he needs the defense to take a step forward, as does defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. The fact they seem to be exploring all their options is definitely a good sign. But the defense definitely is still what we believe it to be: a work in progress. Payton and Allen will work harder than ever to make sure that the unit put on the field is better than what we saw last year. There were flashes of it in game one, and as cuts begin to come, you should expect to see more players stepping up and trying to stick out from the pack.
So, if any free agent defensive players are reading this, give us a call. We are still in need of help to shore up the defense as a complete unit. The “Help Wanted” ad is still there, just not necessarily as prominently displayed. A lot of jobs are still open, and if the holes aren’t fixed, you could have another spot open up after the season; the defensive coordinator job.