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What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; The New Orleans Saints defense just got some serious Super Bowl swagger. With the signing of safety Jairus Byrd to a six-year contract, first reported by the team's Twitter account, New Orleans—known for its offense more than its defense under ...

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Old 03-12-2014, 10:03 AM   #1
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What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints defense just got some serious Super Bowl swagger.

With the signing of safety Jairus Byrd to a six-year contract, first reported by the team's Twitter account, New Orleans—known for its offense more than its defense under head coach Sean Payton—grabs not only the best free agent of 2014, but also a serious building block for what is becoming a legit defense.

In an NFC with defensive juggernauts like the Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers, the Saints will rarely be mentioned in the same breath. Yet, in total defense (yards allowed) the Saints were fourth in the NFL in 2013—ahead of San Francisco. In terms of points, New Orleans was also fourth behind those three revered NFC contenders.

In Byrd, the Saints add one of the best safeties in the NFL. That he is only 27 is a major bonus. Heck, let's call it a coup for a defense that has struggled to shore up a secondary in recent years and has attempted to get younger in the process.

Byrd, the eighth-ranked safety in the entire league, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), pairs with second-year safety Kenny Vaccaro, who came in at 27th, by their estimation. The move also allows the Saints to move on easily from former first-round pick Malcolm Jenkins, who—as ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported—is now a Philadelphia Eagle.

In a fantastic breakdown of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's defensive scheme earlier in the year, NFC South lead writer Knox Bardeen described part of the safety's role in the defense:

Sixteen different players have notched 20 or more plays rushing the passer on passing downs, according to Pro Football Focus(subscription required), including two defensive backs (Malcolm Jenkins and Kenny Vaccaro), seven linebackers and seven defensive linemen. The Saints have 18 defensive players that have affected an opposing quarterback with either a sack, hit or hurry.
Byrd, although not known as a devastating pass-rusher in his time in Buffalo, collected a sack and three hurries last season—in only 13 pass-rushing snaps. That level of productivity (as measured by PFF), would've ranked first on the Saints last season.

Are the Saints a Top-5 Defense With the Signing of Jairus Byrd?
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But let's be honest. Byrd wasn't signed just on the basis of his theoretical ability to rush the passer like Ryan might want. No, far much more valuable is his ability as a single high safety. In the zone-blitzing schemes that Ryan loves to run, he'll get a lot of opportunities there.

In this excerpt from his book, Chris Brown of Smart Football and Grantland lays out the 3-3-5 defense that, although the Saints are known as a 3-4 team, New Orleans ran a lot last season. With three safeties and two cornerbacks on the field, two safeties essentially play the seams (or blitz from their position down in the box) while one free safety roams the deep middle third of the field like the second coming of Ken Griffey Jr.

Byrd's former defensive coordinator (and current Cleveland Browns head coach) Mike Pettine grew up under Rob's brother, Rex Ryan, in New York with the Jets and in Baltimore with the Ravens. It was largely Byrd and Byrd's interceptions that helped Pettine make his mark and land a head-coaching gig.

Bleacher Report's Dan Pompei examined Byrd's value before free agency started:
"Interceptions change games, and that's what he does," said a pro personnel director. "When you have an elite talent like that, you better pay him. The fall off after the elite guys is pretty drastic. Most of the league is playing with safeties they just hope get lined up right."
Because of his elite talent and experience in schemes similar to Ryan's, Byrd will not only know where to line up, but how to make a game-changing play when he gets there.

Now, as the Saints move on from offensive stalwarts like Darren Sproles, Lance Moore and Zach Strief, it is their defense that starts to look like the straw that will stir the drink in the Big Easy.

Byrd joins not only fellow safety Vaccaro, but also star pass-rusher Cameron Jordan (a free agent in 2015), stud linebacker Junior Galette, young defensive linemen Akiem Hicks and John Jenkins, as well as top cornerback Keenan Lewis.

In terms of young defensive talent, that's not a group any quarterback would want to mess with—especially not with Ryan coordinating the bunch, and especially not with Byrd ball-hawking across the top of the field.


Michael Schottey is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff on his archive page and follow him on Twitter.

What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints | Bleacher Report
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:21 AM   #2
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Re: What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints

Dome Patrol 2.0

Now who's the next Sam Mills
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:35 AM   #3
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Re: What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints

Good article.

I think he hit it on the head when he stated "interceptions change games" ... something we lacked last season. Byrd is definitely a game changer & a much needed QB (for lack of a better term) on defense that anticipates better than most at the position. I'm stoked he is now part of the Black and Gold!
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:39 AM   #4
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Re: What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints

Can't wait to see Drew and the offense with a short field again
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:50 AM   #5
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Re: What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints

Plain and simple, he makes the other 10 on the field better.
Now we can take some risks, and we don't have guys looking over their shoulder wondering where their back up is
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:55 AM   #6
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Re: What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints

Originally Posted by RaginCajun83 View Post
Can't wait to see Drew and the offense with a short field again
It will make such a difference to this team . Hopefully less starting inside the 20.

Im expecting Drew to be well under 5000 yards this year.Closer to the 4300-4700 mark with the difference being shorter fields and more rushing
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Old 03-12-2014, 11:03 AM   #7
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Re: What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints

Originally Posted by lee909 View Post
It will make such a difference to this team . Hopefully less starting inside the 20.

Im expecting Drew to be well under 5000 yards this year.Closer to the 4300-4700 mark with the difference being shorter fields and more rushing
Drew becomes a game manager a la Trent Dilfer and the D rules the field? It could happen if we don't get the O line in order.
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Old 03-12-2014, 11:16 AM   #8
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Re: What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints

Originally Posted by Seer1 View Post
Drew becomes a game manager a la Trent Dilfer and the D rules the field? It could happen if we don't get the O line in order.
Apparently Loomis and the coaches do not feel the same... Apparently they feel they can replace DLP/Strief for cheaper in the draft?
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Old 03-12-2014, 11:17 AM   #9
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Re: What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints

I could see some aggression from the front office in this draft. Moving up to secure a C and RT in rounds 2-5 if needed
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Old 03-12-2014, 11:27 AM   #10
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Re: What Jairus Byrd Signing Means for New Orleans Saints

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