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papz 06-17-2013 06:44 AM

Analysis: Taking stock as the Saints’ summer nears
 
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Next man up.

Those three words have become part of the everyday sports vernacular. One player goes down; another steps up.

It certainly applies to the Saints, who suffered a crack in their newly-poured defensive foundation under first-year coordinator Rob Ryan.

That said, the unexpected and potentially season-ending loss of recently acquired outside linebacker Victor Butler during routine drills in Tuesday’s organized team activity speaks to the fragility of a player’s career and how quickly things can change.

It can happen in the blink of an eye — or, in this case, an accidental banging of knees with running back Mark Ingram during the third-to-last “no-pads’’ workout before summer break.

The sudden loss of a projected starter in Ryan’s new 3-4 scheme creates a golden opportunity for someone else to win a starting job — or, at the least, gain significant playing time.

That serves as a starting point for the five most compelling issues facing coach Sean Payton as the clock winds down to the start of training camp July 26.

It’s 40 days and counting.

1. With Butler sidelined, where will the pass rush come from?

Butler figured to play a key role coming off the edge, though that merely was a projection because he only showed glimpses in Dallas in a backup role. Barring the acquisition of additional rush personnel, Junior Galette, Martez Wilson and Will Smith are expected to lead the charge.

Defensive end Cameron Jordan shows great sack potential, and undrafted rookie free agent Chase Thomas is an intriguing prospect. Look for Ryan to find unconventional ways to attack the quarterback from a variety of angles, similar to the style employed by Gregg Williams. The roster still lacks a marquee pass rusher partly because of salary cap constraints, so it essentially will be pass rush by committee.

2. How many pieces are missing in Ryan’s new puzzle of a 3-4 defense ?

Depending on the analyst du jour, the Saints’ returning defensive personnel either is best suited to play a 3-4 or a major roster overhaul is in order. The bottom line is Butler and former Cowboys defensive end Kenyon Coleman (both considered second-tier free agents) were the two main additions to the front seven, and Butler is sidelined.

Besides rookie defensive tackle John Jenkins, everyone else who figures prominently this season is a holdover from 2012. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton is the glue that holds the front seven together. The elder statesmen — Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma — need to contribute, and the young players have to grow up in a hurry for this group to succeed.

With regard to getting gashed in the running game (see last season), Ryan said the problems under former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo have been fixed schematically. Time will tell.

3. Who is Bret Ingalls, an d ho w will he revamp t he front line?

Ingalls is in his fifth year with the Saints, having served the first four as running backs coach. He succeeds Aaron Kromer as offensive line coach and has big shoes to fill, beginning with finding a competent replacement for two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who rejoined Kromer with the Chicago Bears.

During his five-year tenure in New Orleans, Kromer had the luxury of coaching a handful of outstanding O-linemen, such as Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Carl Nicks, Jeff Faine and Jonathan Goodwin. But Kromer also made other, less-heralded players better — Jon Stinchcomb, Zach Strief, Brian de la Puente and Bushrod, to name a few.

Now Ingalls must find a player to protect quarterback Drew Brees’ blindside. The leading candidates are Charles Brown, veteran Jason Smith and rookie Terron Armstead.

Read more: Analysis: Taking stock as the Saints

Danno 06-17-2013 07:52 AM

Re: Analysis: Taking stock as the Saints’ summer nears
 
Quote:

1. With Butler sidelined, where will the pass rush come from?
Barring the acquisition of additional rush personnel, Junior Galette, Martez Wilson and Will Smith are expected to lead the charge.

Defensive end Cameron Jordan shows great sack potential, and undrafted rookie free agent Chase Thomas is an intriguing prospect. Look for Ryan to find unconventional ways to attack the quarterback from a variety of angles, similar to the style employed by Gregg Williams. The roster still lacks a marquee pass rusher partly because of salary cap constraints, so it essentially will be pass rush by committee.

I'd probably mention Rufus Johnson before mentioning Chase Thomas.

lee909 06-17-2013 08:06 AM

Re: Analysis: Taking stock as the Saints’ summer nears
 
With so many Safety's on the roster already are we likely to see Roman Harper being used as a rush linebacker?
Could he even do the job.

Danno 06-17-2013 08:34 AM

Re: Analysis: Taking stock as the Saints’ summer nears
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lee909 (Post 508410)
With so many Safety's on the roster already are we likely to see Roman Harper being used as a rush linebacker?
Could he even do the job.

He'd be the smallest Jack LB in the history of the NFL.

I'd prefer to keep him at his ideal position, strong safety.

joker-saint 06-17-2013 09:28 AM

Re: Analysis: Taking stock as the Saints’ summer nears
 
I don't know Danno...Sam Mills was 5'9" and weighed 229 lbs. Though he was a LILB he was still shorter than Harper and only weighed 29 lbs more and look what he did under Jim Mora. I think Harper could make a great linebacker. Just look at his stats. He has 17 sacks in six seasons (as a safety) with the bulk of them coming from 2011. If he is able to get that many as a safety imagine what 30 more lbs and a linebacker position would do for him. If their is any doubt about speed, just watch this video.


Danno 06-17-2013 09:36 AM

Re: Analysis: Taking stock as the Saints’ summer nears
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by joker-saint (Post 508419)
I don't know Danno...Sam Mills was 5'9" and weighed 229 lbs. Though he was a LILB he was still shorter than Harper and only weighed 29 lbs more and look what he did under Jim Mora. I think Harper could make a great linebacker. Just look at his stats. He has 17 sacks in six seasons (as a safety) with the bulk of them coming from 2011. If he is able to get that many as a safety imagine what 30 more lbs and a linebacker position would do for him. If their is any doubt about speed, just watch this video.

Roman Harper - YouTube

Harper and Mills are as different as Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore.

Harper would be destroyed as a LB. And why try to convert an undersized Strong Safety to a position he's never played before? Why not use a Jack LB to fill the Jack LB spot.

rezburna 06-17-2013 09:36 AM

Re: Analysis: Taking stock as the Saints’ summer nears
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by joker-saint (Post 508419)
I don't know Danno...Sam Mills was 5'9" and weighed 229 lbs. Though he was a LILB he was still shorter than Harper and only weighed 29 lbs more and look what he did under Jim Mora. I think Harper could make a great linebacker. Just look at his stats. He has 17 sacks in six seasons (as a safety) with the bulk of them coming from 2011. If he is able to get that many as a safety imagine what 30 more lbs and a linebacker position would do for him. If their is any doubt about speed, just watch this video.

Roman Harper - YouTube

That was 20 years ago.

joker-saint 06-17-2013 09:46 AM

Re: Analysis: Taking stock as the Saints’ summer nears
 
Danno...I agree, we have enough talent at linebacker. I was merely stating that the possibility is there. I don't want him at the linebacker position but I am certain that if he was asked to do it or get cut he would step his ass up to the plate. He is a hard hitter and has some pretty damn fast closing speed when he lines up as the fourth man on the line. rezburna...you are certainly correct about that. That comparison was only drawn because of the smallest jack linebacker comment from Danno. Still love watching Sam Mills punnish offenses in the old highlight reels though. I would love to see a resurgence of "The Dome Patrol"

rezburna 06-17-2013 11:49 AM

Re: Analysis: Taking stock as the Saints’ summer nears
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by joker-saint (Post 508423)
Danno...I agree, we have enough talent at linebacker. I was merely stating that the possibility is there. I don't want him at the linebacker position but I am certain that if he was asked to do it or get cut he would step his ass up to the plate. He is a hard hitter and has some pretty damn fast closing speed when he lines up as the fourth man on the line. rezburna...you are certainly correct about that. That comparison was only drawn because of the smallest jack linebacker comment from Danno. Still love watching Sam Mills punnish offenses in the old highlight reels though. I would love to see a resurgence of "The Dome Patrol"

Dome Patrol was before my time. Didn't get to see those days. I remember playing with them on Tecmo Super Bowl though.

Seer1 06-17-2013 12:04 PM

Re: Analysis: Taking stock as the Saints’ summer nears
 
Kroemer had the luxury of coaching great players, or the genus of making players great?


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