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BillyCarpenter1 08-29-2003 10:30 AM

I think we all went into preseason with one big question on our minds. Has the defense improved? Well, not only am I still asking that question, I'm also asking myself if they are worse than last year. Can that be possible? Well I went back and looked at last year's defense and here's what I saw as the areas that needed to be improved. I also listed them in order of weakness.

1.) Run defense- Let's face it. If you can't stop the run, it really doesn't matter if you can stop the pass or not.

2.) Quarterback Sacks- This is the one thing that all good defenses are able to do. Being able to get to the QB helps out the secondary so much and dictates to the offense what plays they can call. In other words, it puts them in known passing plays, which usually leads to more sacks.

3.) Pass Defense- Gave up way too many big pass plays last year.

Now, did we improve in any of those area? Here's what I THINK.

1.) Run Defense- Looks to be much improved. With Grady Jackson, Johnathan Sullivan, Kenny Smith, Darren Howard, and Charles Grant, I feel we will be able to stop the run. At least they have been able to do it in the preseaon games, which is all I have to go by.

2.) Quarterback Sacks- Have seen nothing in the preseason to show me that this is going to be any better than last year and this could be the case. However, this is one area that I don't feel like we have been able to judge effectively, because there have been no blitzes to speak of and Grant and Howard have hardly played. One plesant suprise is that Grady and Kenny Smith have showed they can get to the QB, which has to make us feel good. Looking at the preseason games you would think that we would never get any sacks this season. But, did Howard and Grant suddenly drop off in talent that much? Did Venturi forget that blitzing was part of the game plan? I think not, and I think we will be stronger in this department.

3.) Pass Defense- No other way to say it, except they have sucked in the preseason. Have we improved or are we worse this year? We still have the same cornerbacks we had last year, so I don't think we are going to be worse at that position. The only player we lost in the secondary was Sammy Knight. Do you think getting rid of Sammy made our defense that much worse? Getting rid of Sammy argueably could have made the defense worse but do you honestly think it made us look as bad as we have looked in preseason? I think not.

Was Tebucky Jones a mistake? Was Jim Haslett and Rick Venturi that wrong about Tebucky? Well, if they were, so were the coahes for the Patriots. They thought he was good enough to slap the franshise tag on him. I have a hard time beleiveing that all those coaches were wrong about him.

Bottom Line is this. We have the same cornerbacks on the roster that we had last year. We have an improved defensive line. We have an improvement with Tebucky Jones. So, this defense might be no better than last year (which I doubt) but I think that there's no way that the defense we have seen this preseason will be the one we see come next Sunday.

One last thing. Rick Venturi might be the worst Defensive Coordinator ever, but he's not inventing defenses here. Also, Jim Haslett has been a very successful defensive coordinator in this league and I have a very hard time beleiveing that he suddenly forgot how to coach defense. Ultimately, Jim Haslett calls the shots for all phases of the team and this includes defense. I also have a hard time beleiving that Haslett would let Venturi screw up the defense as badly as everyone says he has and is going to do.

[Edited on 29/8/2003 by BillyCarpenter1]

stockman311 08-29-2003 11:00 AM

You forgot one thing with your speil. Linebackers. Ours suck. And safety. We dont have depth or a good strong safey now that Mitchell is out for the year. I believe our defense will definitely be worse than last year, and I dont think our offense will be as good. If we go 8-8 I will consider it a miracle with the defense we have, and I use the term defense rather loosely because they are usually helping the other team score.
If only Sam Mills, Vaughn Johnson, Pat Swilling, and Ricky Jackson were here. God I miss Ricky Jackson. That man brought the THUNDER! Where is the DOME PATROL when you need them?

BillyCarpenter1 08-29-2003 11:04 AM

This area is hardly any worse than last year and Derrick Rodgers was an improvement.

lumm0x 08-29-2003 11:07 AM

I can\'t buy into the \"scapegoat\" conspiracy that a few members are referring to between Venturi and Haslett. Haslett is responsible for the personnel we have brought in this year. I\'m not going to comment on them here, but here\'s my take on the Venturi/ Haslett relationship:
Haslett is a bit of a hot head. My guess is he is good at devising defensive schemes. I would say his short fall is the transition into coaching. By this I mean that he is used to being tightly involved with his defensive group. In football, regardless of what they say, there is a definite division between the defense and the offense. He has to walk the line now and not favour one side. Venturi is reknowned for being a players coach. Some of the positives I have heard about him are that he is a good communicator, is very encouraging to players and they tend to like him. I think Haslett figured with Venturi he had a likeable person that the defense could interact with, but also someone he could have alot of influence with in the defensive planning. If he brought in a Ray Rhodes type DC he would have more conflict as their personalities may not mesh like he and Venturi can. Is Venturi the best DC for us? I highly doubt it. Is he the best the DC for Haslett\'s situation? Probably.
I know Billy and I fight over the talent/scheming debate all the time, but I think there\'s a situation where talent can be very specific. Someone can be talented given specific situations, but that talent can degrade when put in a unfamiliar situation. A good example was Charlie Clemons. Excelled in St. Louis as a OLB/DE tweener and did the same here. Put him in the Mike and he was a fish out of water. I\'ve said it before that I believe he will rebound in Houston under Capers in his scheme.
I think alot of the problem last year was too many individuals were being asked to play against their abilities. Clemons, Knight, Thomas (he\'s a nickle CB), etc. We should be better this year at least from a paper standpoint because we have players playing at comfort spots. Whether they can establish the responsive communication necessary for a defense to make in game and in play adjustments will be their downfall if they have one.

They look bad right now. Losing Mitchell was a blow because inserting Bellamy will force a major adjustment to the scheme and pressure the corner more on that side, pressure the LB landmark zones as he isn\'t reliable, and pressure the pursuit coverage as he can\'t be relied upon to make the tackle. At least Mitchell could get to the ball faster, tackle better, and play the run with greater aggression. It will all be skepticism how bad this will affect the D, and I wish we had 6 real games to see Mitchell and then we would understand how much this will change the defense.

tweeky 08-29-2003 11:18 AM

Well thought out Billy. I agree.
Defensive Line: Should be much better and deeper than last year

Linebackers: Slight improvement with Rodgers speed and experience. Could be much improved by seasons end as Cie Grant and Ray Allen progress (Remember Ray Allen is only in his 2nd year, and he was a 2 year project)

Corners: Should be better. Basically the same guys but we\'ll have Carter for 16, Lose Ken Irvin but gain Ashley Ambrose, Craver will provide better depth than we had last year.

Safeties: At worst a wash, Last year SS-Knight and FS-Bellamy, this year SS-Bellamy and FS-Jones. We essentially have traded savy for speed.

Overall: I think we go from a #27 defense, to a lower middle-of-the-pack crew (#15-#25). Still not what us Saint fans are used to, but its better than last year.

The difference being we get better as the season progresses, not worse.

stockman311 08-29-2003 11:27 AM

This is my take:
D-Line: Much better IF they stay healthy and Sullivan lives up to his draft status
LB\'s - If Mitchell goes down in the middle we are SUNK. He is the only guy on the field with a clue how to posisition everyone
Corners: I think we will be the same as last year, BAD.
Safeties: We are in BIG trouble here. No depth no talent and T.J. has yet to prove he is the man to me yet.
Overall: We will be lucky to sniff #25. Equally no playoffs for us.

I hope I am wrong about all of this.

saint5221 08-29-2003 12:00 PM

The question I keep asking myself as I look at the Saints roster is not did we get better but did we do as well as we could have? Yes I believe we have a better defense but I also believe we could of done more.

Tebucky Jones ,yes he was franchised by the Pats,but he was never fully in Belichick\'s favor who went right out and signed Rodney Harrison. Sounds more like protecting options than a valued player. Is Tebucky an improvement for this defense? Yes, Is he worth the largest contract given a safety and three draft picks a third, a fourth,and a seventh though? He had problems with inconsistancy in New England and we have surely seen some of that in New Orleans. He has looked nowhere near the player Haslett has trumpeted him to be, we are paying him to be and we gave up for him to be.

Cornerback was a huge area of need, We did not draft at this position or bring in anyone other than the ageing Ashley Ambrose, also called inconsistant and slowing in Atlanta. Is this an improvement? Sadly yes it is. But is that all we should of done ? Absolutely not.

Linebacker was another huge hole, we had ample cap room to look at the marquee names at this position,Spikes,Colvin,Claiborne or even the bargin priced Randell Godfrey? Yet we did\'nt even speak to any of them and only bring in Ruff and Rogers. Both solid players and along with the development of existing players definatly better than before but do you really think this is the best we could of done,or should of done to shore up such an important and weak area?

Depth at safety has reared its ugly head as a unaddressed issue. We spoke to several veteran safeties yet signed none, Why?

It is obviously easy to second guess decisions after they are made, but many of these choices were questioned by the press and the fans alike as soon as they started being discussed. These choices look even more suspect now.This is not nit picking, think of the posibilities of this defense with just a few upgrades, a few better choices. BillyC and Tweeky our two most ardent supporters, do you really think this organization made all the right calls? I love this team and do think we are better, but in a tough sport with the super bowl being the ultimate prize and the margin for error precariously slim just getting better is\'nt the ultimate standard, nor should it be.

[Edited on 8/29/2003 by saint5221]

BillyCarpenter1 08-29-2003 12:22 PM


The question I keep asking myself as I look at the Saints roster is not did we get better but did we do as well as we could have? Yes I believe we have a better defense but I also believe we could of done more.
My post was to point out that I don\'t think the defense is as bad as it has looked in preseason, but I agree that we could have done MUCH more.


Tebucky Jones ,yes he was franchised by the Pats,but he was never fully in Belichick\'s favor who went right out a signed Rodney Harrison. Sounds more like protecting options than a valued player.
Protecting options? Franchise tag is a strong statement and you can call it what you want to, but if some team did not trade for Tebucky the Pats were going to have to shell out a lot of money for that OPTION.


Depth at safety has reared its ugly head as a unaddressed issue. We spoke to several veteran safeties yet signed none, Why?
I can only assume that they feel comfortable with the back-ups they have.

saints5221- I agree that we could have done more to address the cornerback position and the linebacker position and I feel liked we should have went after one of the big name guys. But, we have what we have, and hopefully they can come together as a group and surprise us all.

[Edited on 29/8/2003 by BillyCarpenter1]

saint5221 08-29-2003 01:43 PM



Protecting options? Franchise tag is a strong statement and you can call it what you want to, but if some team did not trade for Tebucky the Pats were going to have to shell out a lot of money for that OPTION.

Yes a franchise tag is a strong statement but that statement is not always that this is a player we are set on keeping. You know a tag can be removed and Tebuckys tag was almost removed, but when interest in a trade heated up Belichick engaged in a game of chicken with big consequences if he lost. Haslett didnt blink untill after the deadline for the tag to be removed eaisly and Belichick did\'nt blink at all. The Pats tried to resign Tebucky but for nothing near what he wanted and got in N.O. Tebucky had value Belichick knew that he just did not hold him in the same lofty esteem Haslett does. Neither did a lot of talent scouts and evaluators. The Jones deal definatly raised some eyebrows around the league. I believe Belichick thinks Tebucky Jones is a good player,just not as good as Haslett thinks he is and he surely does\'nt think he was worth all we gave up and are paying to have him. As before It\'s not is Tebucky good ,it\'s is he worth the largest contract given any safety and three draft picks?

I do agree with your accessment of our Defense being better and getting better, I just am finding it harder and harder to be comforted by that in the face of so many missed opportunities to improve the defense more than we have. With an offense as potent as we have now I can\'t help but feel we have a chance to go all the way if we had a reasonable defense. The kind of defense that seems to of been able to have been assembled with a few better choices. I am enamored of the idea that if they built such a good offense it should be eaiser to build a defense with a proven defensive coach, but it doesn\'t seem to be working out that way right now. Football is a tough endevor and wasted opportunities always cost you, the question now is how much will this cost us? I\'m not giving up or giving in as a fan, just pissed.

[Edited on 8/29/2003 by saint5221]

WhoDat 08-29-2003 05:02 PM

This defense is worse. Period. You\'ll see it on the field in a little over a week. You\'ll see it all season long... 8-8, and that\'s being nice.

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