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Defense: The Butchers’ Toll Part 2

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Posted 07-21-2008 at 05:16 PM by hagan714
Updated 05-04-2009 at 07:47 PM by hagan714

The Butchers’ Toll
Part 2

Now what did the Saints do?
Let’s face facts here. Youth is the main need for our defense. We rented a Defense now for two years and they were not really any spring chickens out there. The Saints’ went all out in FA and the draft for defense. Yes we did add another group of aging vets to one year contracts in FA. Well that is our standard mode of operation. What was surprising was the signing of Randell Gay , Bobby McCray and the trade for Jonathan Vilma. All solid additions and all of them are 26 years of age. Talk about infusing youth across the board. That’s A++ stuff in FA. From the draft we added Sedrick, Terry, and DeMario to fill in the gaps in the defense that FA did not address. Say what? Two DT and a solid CB in the draft? I had to get up of the floor after these picks.

Oh yeah we did add Aaron Glenn to the team. See we had to get an old timer in here somewhere. But he is smart and can play several positions. Jerametrius Butler if he can stay healthy maybe a steal. But he does not get an under the radar signing tag, not yet.

First Level Of Defense
Now how do you give Vilma the best protection a middle LB could want? Answer is DT. So the Saint went all in the draft to protect him by trade up for Sedrick Ellis. What I like about Ellis is he can play the DT (three technique) and NT in the 43 defense. I hope he is in good shape because he will be running in and out of the game a lot to begin with subbing for Thomas and Young. This is just what these two aging vets needed. Then we added DeMario Pressly to the mix. There is no arguing his talent. The issue was injuries during his senior season. He is going to add much needed depth to the DT position. Antwan better keep an eye on this kid.

The saints DL is completed with the DEs all under contract. Grant last year and Smith signed just this year. They both got big time pay to keep them happy. The Saints then added a set of very fast young legs in the signing of bobby McCray. They even gave him a ton of cash. All of sudden the saints have two players Smith and McCray that can out run most of the OT and fullbacks in the NFL.

The addition of youthful legs should help us get more of a push up front all the way through the fourth quarter.. This should cut down the ability of QB stepping up to avoid the DEs and Blitzer’s. So once Ellis signs we will have one of the most expensive front fours in the NFL and with 3 1st round draft picks taking to the field. The pressure is on for the front 4 to perform and let the LBers do there thing.

Second Level
If Jonathan Vilma is healthy and can come back, he can single handedly change the middle of the field for the Saints’ defense. We all hope he returns to his pre injury form. Gee this sounds a lot like Drew all over again. Well his impact would be the same for the defense as Drews’ was for the offense.. If he does return to his 100+ tackle form we then have to worry about resigning him at the end of the season. Well I feel better about this risk knowing Drew and Vilma had the same doctor. If this gamble pays off he will cost a large sum of money and an additional pick to stay in the Black and Gold. He would be worth every penny in my opinion. I know JoeSam loves this move.

The DL has to keep the OL off of Fujita,Vilma and Shanle so they are, free to roam. Well the key as I said is Vilma. To many times last year I watch the defense doing it job only to have the MLB just a step or two too slow to make the play. Maybe this explains Shanle’s drop off in production, that and his hamstring injury early in November. I am not saying to expect a pro bowl out him but he is a solid veteran. We tried to upgrade the position but Dan Morgan decided it was better to retire than suffer any more brain damage. This was a smart move on his part. Scott Fujita is another solid veteran that is not a highlight reel waiting to happen but does his job. 90+ tackles two years in a row is hard to argue with. This is our group and well that’s about all we have. As back up we have nothing but unproven players that play their roles well. Simoneau is our jack of all trades master of none backup. Evans is a special team’s demon that has shown signs of promise. Dunbar is a rookie free agent. Thin at LBer is a good way of saying it.

Third Level
Now we have to look at the secondary. This is hard because unlike the rest of the defensive unit, this piece is in the middle of a major overhaul. Yes there are still some questions whether Mike McKenzie will be ready or not. We all know he is a big key to the unit but we also have to realize at 32 he is no spring chicken coming off of injury. Then you have Jason Craft at 32 also, who is our wily old Vet. Well Aaron Glenn at 35 is the wise old man for sure. He can play both CB and FS but he has lost a step and a half. I am still wondering were besides coaching does he fit in. So time is ticking here.
This is where; Usama Young, Tracy Porter, Jason David and Randell Gay come into play. Here is the future. Out on the Island, as we call it, there was Jason David last year. Jason David, in my opinion, needs to write the saints a check after last years play. He should pay the Saints to get on the field and get the chance to redeem himself. He stunk up the NFL. Granted the lack of Safety did not help but that is not enough perfume to cover the stink of this PePe Le Pew in Black and Gold. Sean promised all of use we will see an improvement this year. I hope so. He can not get any worse. So that was a safe statement for the coach to make. Well I hope not. With M&M getting older this is where I see Gay stepping in. Gay simply does not have the speed to make the safeties look good out there one on one. But at the number two he could be perfect. Out on the Island we need size and speed. Two things both Young and Porter have. Lack of experience is the killer out there but the Saints have refused again this year to go after a top CB in FA. So on the job training is a must. Strap yourself in gang this could be a bumpy ride, again. But heck it can not be any worse than last year.
Bullocks and Harper are the Saints starting Safeties. Recent roomers have Kaesviharn as the starter over Bullocks at FS. Either way Harper seems to be the best thing back there for us and even then his game could use improving. But Harpers 2006 knee injury did set the tandem back in 2007. Remember Bullocks had a good rookie season (2005) and we all looked forward to his play in 2006. Harper was drafted and the two looked to be a good match. But 5 games into the 2006 season it was all over. In 2007 the saints got there starting S tandem back on the field. So 2007 was the first time they played together. Well a lot of factors came into play and well the results were hard to digest. Roman, KK and Bullocks have to do one thing better this year and that is generating turnovers. OK better pass defense is one also.

Conclusion
What do we have to look forward to in 2008? God only knows. This is the same thing we went through in 2006 with the Saints offense. Time will tell. There is way too many new key pieces that have to come together in order to make an educated guess. But as a fan you have to like the approach the saints have taken in just 3 years under Sean. We have an offense that scares people and are just now putting the finishing pieces in place for a defense. All we can hope is that the results are close to what the 2006 offensive turn over yielded. Let see what happens and look forward to the 2009 draft and FA to plug a few more holes in the defense that were not addressed this year. There simply was not enough money or picks to address all of them in one year.

One thing that is for sure, The Butchers’ Toll can not get any worse than in 2007.
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  1. Old Comment
    saintsfan1976's Avatar
    I agree with your summation all the way. And also that "God only knows" what will happen. But I can say this: Payton and company went out and made a solid attempt to upgrade every (almost every) position of need to improve the defense. Who can blame him for coveting Shockey so much...That's his reward for an offseason well spent. Bring on Training Camp I can't wait to see how this unfolds.
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    Posted 07-23-2008 at 03:55 PM by saintsfan1976 saintsfan1976 is offline

 
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