this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints News Saints' defense needs more from high-priced safety The Associated Press 9/25/03 7:29 PM NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Free safety Tebucky Jones hasn't played as well as New Orleans Saints officials expected when they acquired him in April from ...
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|09-26-2003, 08:59 AM||#1|
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Saints need more from safety.....
Saints' defense needs more from high-priced safety
The Associated Press
9/25/03 7:29 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Free safety Tebucky Jones hasn't played as well as New Orleans Saints officials expected when they acquired him in April from New England, but coach Jim Haslett said he's convinced that acquiring Jones was the right thing to do.
He brings speed and size to the roster, but at a high cost. The Saints sent third-, fourth- and seventh-round draft picks to the Patriots, and signed Jones to a seven-year, $30 million contract that includes a $5 million signing bonus. Also, while getting Jones, the Saints opted not to re-sign popular safety Sammy Knight, now a starter for the Miami Dolphins.
"Jones is struggling with some things," Haslett said. "You would like him to be perfect at everything, but he is not there yet. He will get to that point.
"He needs to wrap his arms on tackles. He is trying to kill everybody and knock people out. He did it twice against Tennessee. He had the tackle, but he tried to knock Eddie (George) out a couple of times and ended up grabbing him by the legs. But Tebucky's as good as anybody there is."
Jones is credited with 12 tackles, three pass breakups plus one tackle on special teams. He dropped a potential interception against Houston.
Strong safety Jay Bellamy, who was inserted into the lineup after Mel Mitchell went down with a season-ending knee injury, leads the team with 25 tackles.
"A majority of the plays aren't really coming my way, so I haven't had a chance to break up many passes," Jones said. "The majority of the time I'm in the middle of the field, so you're not going to see me unless somebody has gotten deep and I got to run him down and keep him from scoring.
"Our defense is really more geared for a strong safety than a free safety. I'm just back there making sure that nothing really deep happens."
Jones' assignment becomes tougher Sunday night when the undefeated Indianapolis Colts visit the Superdome for a primetime showdown.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has plenty of offensive firepower in wide receivers Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Troy Walters, tight ends Marcus Pollard and Dallas Clark and running back Edgerrin James.
"I played against Tebucky for a number of years," Manning said. "I used to see him twice a year (in the AFC East). Without a doubt, he's probably the most athletic safety in the league. Not many safeties can play corner and safety. So that tells you about his athletic ability. He's a guy who can cover a lot of ground, but he's also big enough to where he can come up and lay the big hit on you."
Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi said Jones' uneven performance reflects the team's early struggles through the first three games.
"When you're not having success as a team, everybody focuses on negative things that happen to you," Venturi said. "We all have them, like missed tackles and dropped balls. But Tebucky has made plays for us. He's going to bring leadership to us. He's going to get better at everything he does. I'm glad he's here. We're all glad he's here.
"He's brought that speed element to the team. He's going to be a damn good leader for us here."