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Saints Report on Saints D (Good Read)

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; WARNING... the following article contains football related material. Pessimists may want to avoid... http://www.saintsreport.com/cgi-bin/...&id=1055892621 Saints Defense: Read Between The Lines We've heard it all before. Cliche's such as "speed kills" and "you can't coach speed" or "the best offense is ...

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Old 06-18-2003, 03:20 PM   #1
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Saints Report on Saints D (Good Read)

WARNING... the following article contains football related material. Pessimists may want to avoid...
http://www.saintsreport.com/cgi-bin/...&id=1055892621
Saints Defense: Read Between The Lines

We've heard it all before. Cliche's such as "speed kills" and "you can't coach speed" or "the best offense is a good defense" and "defenses win championships." In a league of trends and copycats, these catchy phrases have started to dominate the psyche of fans, players, and coaches alike.
If you hear it enough, there must be some truth in it. Right?

So is speed and speed alone what makes championship defenses? Or offenses for that matter? What constitutes "team speed?" Is it as black and white as the average 40 yard dash times of particular teams?

If this were true, we would have Super Bowl predictions down to an exact science.

Enough questions, let's get to some answers. Great defenses are built on more than just speed. A great organization knows how to create the near-perfect balance of speed and savvy, veterans and youngsters — role players and play-makers.

Role Player: player who executes and takes care of assigned responsibilities within the parameters of a given scheme
Play-Maker: Gifted athlete with the ability and skill to operate outside of the parameters of a given scheme (and therefore make plays as opposed to having plays made for him)

Case and point: in the 2002 offseason, Dan Snyder signed perhaps the highest profile group of linebackers of any team. Jeremiah Trotter, Jessie Armstead, and LaVar Arrington had each played in the Pro Bowl the previous season. Snyder then proceeded to sign Baltimore Raven defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis to tutor this corps of athletes in hopes of recreating the historical Super Bowl defense the Ravens had in 2000.

While the Redskins' defense held their own against the run, their pass defense was horrendous and the linebacker play was not what one would expect from three perennial Pro Bowlers and a coach who had tutored such greats as Ray Lewis and was responsible for the Ravens' defense of 2000. So what went wrong in Washington?

So now we're back where we started. If Marvin Lewis and a collection of All-Pro linebackers couldn't create a Super Bowl defense, who can?

The answer lies in this simple philosophy: too many play-makers, not enough plays to go around. The Saints should not encounter this problem.

The revamped Saints defense should showcase an encouraging collection of complementary players. This offseason could prove to be almost as awe-inspiring as the influx of 32 free agents in 2000 that produced such stars as Joe Horn and Aaron Brooks (acquired via trade). The front office, instead of going out and signing the most expensive high profile players (pieces too big for the puzzle), has beautiful pieced together a defense that should exceed the expectations of even the most optimistic Saints fan. I took the liberty of breaking down the new-look Saints defense.


DEFENSIVE LINE
The acquisition of Johnathon Sullivan should provide a much needed cog in the middle. And while our instincts may tell us to expect instant record-breaking statistics from the young newcomer, we should fight these thoughts and instead observe the other three players on the line, most notably the Ends. What Johnathon Sullivan brings to the Saints line is speed and athleticism to not only collapse the pocket on passing plays, but also to redirect many running plays simply off of presence alone. It is a lot easier for a running back to read and find his hole when the defensive bodies nearest to him are stationary. Last season Grady Jackson and Norman Hand simply carried too much weight to provide any penetration and also lacked mobility to pursue the ball carrier and collapse the pocket. Expect Sullivan to provide play-makers Charles Grant and Darren Howard with more sack opportunities while grabbing a respectable 4 or 5 for himself along the way. The run-stopping production from the linebackers should increase statistically as well as the playmaking opportunities for the safties and cornerbacks. Kenny Smith will provide a decent compliment and Willie Whitehead should get in the mix inside as well.


LINEBACKERS
Many of us frowned early in the offseason when the Saints announced the free agent signing of ex-Charger middle linebacker Orlando Ruff. This signing could prove to be the smartest of all. Last season, the Saints lacked a run-stuffing presence at the MIKE (middle linebacker) position. Like Sullivan, Ruff's presence alone should disrupt many running plays. At 6'4 and nearly 260 pounds, Ruff has the instincts, tenacity, and size to crush fullbacks and seek out ball carriers between the tackles. What many will fail to recognize is how he will effect the production of youngster Sedrick Hodge and especially WILL (weakside) linebacker James Allen (assuming he holds off newly acquired Derrick Rogers for the starting spot.).
Expect for James Allen to win the starting spot and benefit from the competition. The Saints scheme should provide many playmaking opportunities for Allen, both against the run and the pass. Expect him to lead the team in tackles and put up respectable sack numbers as well. While he will remain very prone to mistakes, this play-maker will greatly benefit from the presence of a veteran role player in Orlando Ruff and tutor in Derrick Rogers.
Darrin Smith will provide a reliable replacement for Ruff in obvious passing situations and will allow the Saints to stay in their base defense and keep things simple.
Cie Grant should be exciting in a year or two and could become the poster-boy for the Saints "speedy" defense.


DEFENSIVE BACKS
The acquisition of Tebucky Jones has completely changed the look of the Saints secondary. He is another example of how the Saints brass stressed presence as much as ability this offseason. Jones imposing size and blazing speed should improve the entire secondary. Mel Mitchell will benefit from having Jones next to him and his job will be simplified greatly, allowing his progression to follow a pattern similar to James Allen's in their first year as starters. Jones range will allow Mitchell to play closer to the line of scrimmage and make more plays against the run, as well as be used as a blitzer. An improved pass rush combined with excellent speed at the safety spots will allow the Saints to play more zone, keeping the defensive backs fresh and allowing veterans in Dale Carter and Ashley Ambrose to make plays on the ball.
What Jones speed as well as his experience at cornerback also brings is the ability to match him up man-to-man against receivers on blitz plays. His man-to-man ability will also allow the Saints to stay in their base defense and keep things simple. Jones is a play-maker who will be used in specific roles, as well, since the New Orleans secondary should not be short on play-makers.
Expect Fred Thomas to build off of his breakout 2002 season.


On paper, the Saints have a defense with top-ten ability. Fortunately, all they need is one that can take pressure off of their offense. If the players can gel and stay focused down the stretch we may be finally looking at the complete football team New Orleans has always lacked.



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Old 06-18-2003, 04:44 PM   #2
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Saints Report on Saints D (Good Read)

that last paragraph, on paper........dam, they do look good on paper.......nice read tweek, come on aug 11..................smitty
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Old 06-18-2003, 06:49 PM   #3
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Saints Report on Saints D (Good Read)

Great read Tweeky.
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Old 06-18-2003, 11:28 PM   #4
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Saints Report on Saints D (Good Read)

Man, only 5 weeks to go. can we make it without going nuts?
I don\'t remember a time when I was so encouraged about the upcoming season.
The more I look at this team on paper, the more fired up I get.

I\'m afraid heartbreak is inevitable
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Old 06-19-2003, 07:23 AM   #5
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Saints Report on Saints D (Good Read)

GREAT WRITE UP! Got me a woody just reading it!
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Old 06-19-2003, 07:31 AM   #6
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Saints Report on Saints D (Good Read)

Man, only 5 weeks to go. can we make it without going nuts?
Not sure, I\'m a grown man who finds the highpoint of his day sitting in front of the computer playing Madden 2003 and watching taped games from years past. Does it sound like I have a problem?
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Old 06-19-2003, 07:51 AM   #7
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Saints Report on Saints D (Good Read)

Not sure, I\'m a grown man who finds the highpoint of his day sitting in front of the computer playing Madden 2003 and watching taped games from years past. Does it sound like I have a problem?
Here\'s a test, go to Hooters and if you can avoid watching the Mort Report on ESPN on the big screen, for the entire segment, then you\'re still OK.
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Old 06-19-2003, 08:27 AM   #8
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Saints Report on Saints D (Good Read)

Here\'s a test, go to Hooters and if you can avoid watching the Mort Report on ESPN on the big screen, for the entire segment, then you\'re still OK.
Too late
Went there for lunch last week with some co-workers, and I sat glued to the TV. Yeah, I admired the scenery from time to time (what male wouldn\'t???), but for the most part, I watched sportscenter.
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Old 06-19-2003, 03:47 PM   #9
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Saints Report on Saints D (Good Read)

i got you beat b&b

we were at the strip club the other night and i caught myself watching sportscenter more than the main attractions

i need help
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