Everyone at some point has heard the old expression: “It’s so bad, it can only get better from here.” Let’s hope the New Orleans Saints defense can go up from the dreadful pit of misery, that it currently finds itself in.
The Saints are giving up over 10 yards per pass; which basically means that whenever the opposing team throws a pass, either they get a first down or a touchdown.
Thankfully for the 'Who Dat Nation' fan-base, future Hall of Fame starting QB Drew Brees gives New Orleans a fighting chance to still win every game.
Brees has proven his unbelievable talent, time and time again. After setting the record for most career completions, Brees is inching his way toward overtaking another record—Most Career Passing Yards.
Drew’s career speaks for itself. He is an 11-time Pro Bowler, he won the Super Bowl MVP in his only appearance, and following a strict and effective fitness lifestyle, he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Sunday’s victory over the rival Atlanta Falcons may have been one of Brees’ best performances in an NFL uniform. Answering every Falcon score with a score of his own, Brees methodically marched his team up and down the field, carving up the Falcons defense in the process.
Drew may have saved his best for the final minutes of the game however. Down 37-30 with just over a minute to play, Brees, desperate to find an open receiver, was forced to make a play with his feet: and he did just that.
Closing in on Brees, Falcon teammates Robert Alford and Brian Poole looked as if they were going to lay the wood on Drew; before he made a terrific spin-move, and then managed to shed both would-be tacklers before diving into the end zone.
The tying score took the two teams to overtime, and after winning the coin toss, the Saints elected to receive the ball. It was evident to me that Brees was trying to contain his excitement, knowing the ball at some point would eventually be in his hands with a chance to win the game.
Brees was even more impressive in overtime. He quickly led his team down into Falcons territory before hitting Alvin Kamara for what looked to be the game winner. After video review overturned the score, Brees took it upon himself to decide the outcome with his signature leap and stretch of the football over the goal line.
A much needed division road win was secure. DESPITE another dreadful performance by the defense, Drew Brees once again clearly demonstrated why he is a 1st-ballot NFL Hall-of-Famer. Thank God he plays for the Saints, because without him, its hard to imagine this team winning any game that he isn't a part of.
Following the victory, all the pundits talked about was the dreadful Saints defense. Because of the awful numbers the Saints are putting up defensively, its hard to imagine them making the playoffs, much less having another shot to win the division.
Simply stated for the time being, the offense (in particular, Drew Brees) will have to continue its heroic output. The Saints defense cannot stop anyone, regardless of the quarterback they face.
This was evidenced by the first two games of the season.
What if I told you the Saints would score 40 points at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and lose?
Well, it happened.
What if I told you that leading the Cleveland Browns at home by 6 with under 3 minutes to play, the Saints would surrender a game tying TD on 4th down from mid-field, be forced to drive down and kick an apparent game winning field goal, only to sweat out a missed FG by Cleveland to end the game?
Again, it happened!
I don’t know what problems the rest of the schedule will present to this team, but the defense HAS TO IMPROVE for the Saints to remain serious contenders at getting back to the NFL Playoffs for a 2nd straight year and hopefully a berth in Super Bowl LIII.
Remember the Saints' new mantra on defense now from here on out:
“IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER FROM HERE!”
In all seriousness: do I feel discouraged?
Yes, however, what is encouraging is the Saints defense has recorded 6 sacks over the last two games.
They are getting pressure on the quarterback. Unfortunately, it’s hit or miss. Several times against the Falcons, Matt Ryan could have read a book in the pocket.
I don’t care who is playing in the secondary, when ANY NFL quarterback has that much time to find an open receiver, the defense will give up embarrassing statistics all day long. Dennis Allen made the decision-pregame, to start PJ Williams over Ken Crawley.
Steve Sarkisian, the Falcons offensive coordinator must have been salivating to see that. His plan from the opening possession was to attack Williams, and boy did he ever. Calvin Ridley absolutely toasted him for an absurd 7 catches, 146 yards and 3 touchdowns. To say it was the rookie’s "coming out party" would be an understatement.
Nevertheless, I will give the defense credit.
They made a terrific stand when they had to. They were able to force a punt right before overtime. That would be the last time the Falcons would have the ball.
With a very difficult schedule remaining, particularly after the Saints’ bye week, the defense MUST IMPROVE. Rather amazingly, their run defense has been a big surprise this season. They are #1 in the NFL at yards per carry allowed (3.0 ypc).
But they absolutely and unequivocally have got to improve at defending the opponent's passing game, or else Drew Brees’s elite performance and potentially record breaking season will be for naught.
IF (and that’s a BIG "if"), the pass defense could even just slightly improve to say 19th-23rd in the league, this team will be a tough out for ANYONE in the NFL.
But, as of now, that seems to be asking an awful lot.