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Saints Improvement Right Up the Middle -- Mike Detillier

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints Improvement Right Up the Middle By Mike Detillier There will be question marks about the New Orleans Saints’ ability to consistently rush the quarterback opposite Cameron Jordan in 2017 and how quickly the two rookie defensive backs in cornerback ...

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Old 05-21-2017, 07:36 PM   #1
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Saints Improvement Right Up the Middle -- Mike Detillier

Saints Improvement Right Up the Middle

By Mike Detillier

There will be question marks about the New Orleans Saints’ ability to consistently rush the quarterback opposite Cameron Jordan in 2017 and how quickly the two rookie defensive backs in cornerback Marshon Lattimore and free safety Marcus Williams along with second year safety Vonn Bell can be playmakers and come up with turnovers on the backside, but what I think will be the strength of the Saints defense this year is right up with the middle.

Like a baseball team trying to upgrade their pitching, catcher spot, second base position and centerfield the Saints have some real talent to watch develop at defensive tackle, A.J. Klein at middle linebacker and the safety threesome of Kenny Vaccaro, Vonn Bell and 2017 second round pick Marcus Williams.

The Saints know what they have in a tough and steady performer in Tyeler Davison. Davison, the 6-2, 300 pounder has been a solid inside performer in run support and he is relentless to run the field in run support. The Saints coaching staff love the effort, toughness and instincts the former 2015 fifth round selection possesses.

The Saints liked what they saw from veteran free agent pick-up Nick Fairley. Nick Fairley is the best natural pass rusher the Saints have on the roster from the inside and last season he produced with 6 quarterback sacks.

The team thought enough of Fairley to reward him with a new four-year, $30 million dollar contract extension in the spring. The Saints hope they can consistently get great effort from the former 13th overall selection in the 2011 draft and that was something the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams couldn’t do.

But the mercurial Fairley is very talented and he gives a push up the middle the Black and Gold has not seen in some time.

But the real “watch” points are the two second year defensive tackles in Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata.

Rankins, the Saints 2016 first round choice, was in on 20 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 4 quarterback sacks in 9 games after he came back from a broken fibula and in stretches the former Louisville standout flashed big time inside skills.

One opposing NFL defensive line coach who worked out Rankins before the 2016 draft told me, “Rankins has a chance to do for the Saints what Kawann Short does for the Carolina Panthers. He is very talented as an inside pass rusher and he does a good job clogging things up inside in run support.”
And then there is David Onyemata.

Six years ago Onyemata didn’t even know what American football was, but after playing his college football at Manitoba College in Canada the Saints made a draft-day trade in order to select the 6-4, 300 pounder in the fourth round last spring.

The Nigeria native didn’t put up huge stats in 2016 racking up 18 tackles and zero quarterback sacks, but the talent and potential is there and the Saints coaching staff and players on the team feel as though he will have a break-out season in 2017 due to his unique combination of strength, speed, intelligence and quickness off the snap.

That foursome at defensive tackle have to play big early on in 2017 against a brutal schedule and also have AJ. Klein be the take-charge leader and productive player at middle linebacker which they have sorely lacked.

Klein is athletic, smart and he knows what to do on every snap, not just some of the time. The Saints need a steady presence in the middle and the former Carolina Panther has the take-charge, blue-collar work ethic and football instincts the Black and Gold need in a starting “Mike” linebacker.
And he stays on the field in obvious third down passing plays due to his reverse skills in coverage.

Defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn has shown to be a very good coaching addition and his skillset to groom the young talents at safety in Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams, along with strong safety Kenny Vaccaro is a huge plus for a team trying to quickly infuse more speed, athleticism and turnover skills on defense

How quickly this threesome at safety, along with 2017 1st round pick cornerback Marshon Lattimore and hopefully a healthy Delvin Breaux and P.J. Williams at cornerback, can come together as a group is a huge key for 2017. Without winning that critical giveaway/takeaway stat and produce more interceptions on defense the Saints will again struggle to stay out of weekly shootout games.

But the strength on defense, it’s right up the middle for the New Orleans Saints.

NFC Director of Pro Personnel on New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe

“Dannell Ellerbe’s 31 years old, he has only been available 16 games over the past 3 NFL seasons, they have brought in a host of linebackers to compete for a starting spot and today Dannell is the most talented outside linebacker the New Orleans Saints have,” the veteran NFL personnel director said.

I have no idea about Ellerbe’s health and availability, but the Saints don’t have a better cover linebacker than Dannell, he is super quick to get to the edge to make a play in run defense and he is a really good pass rusher. They started to use him a lot in that pass rush role once he got healthy and he got 4 quarterback sacks. If he is healthy, and that is a big if, he is the clear-cut starter at the weakside spot opening day for New Orleans. I like the kid from Florida (Alex Anzalone), but he’s not beating out Ellerbe for the starting spot on the weakside in 2017. Looking at it if everyone is healthy for the Saints, Ellerbe is the starter on the weakside, A.J. Klein is the man in the middle and Craig Robertson starts on the strongside.”

“Coach Pete” on new Saints Defensive Line Coach Ryan Nielsen

Pete Jenkins is 75 years young, but he is looked at as one of the greatest defensive line coaches in the history of college football. Jenkins, who returned to LSU when the Tiger administration fired Les Miles and elevated Ed Orgeron to the interim head coaching spot last year, is returning for another season as the Tigers’ defensive line coach in 2017.

I got to speak to Jenkins this week and he spoke in glowing terms about New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen.

“I read a few things about Ryan, but no one really knows him,” Jenkins said. “The Saints got a real good young coach in Nielsen, a real good one. It’s not mentioned, but he played for Ed (Orgeron) at USC, coached under him as a grad-assistant at USC and then Ed hired him as the defensive line coach when he was the head coach at Ole Miss. Ryan considers “Coach O” his mentor. You better damn well know what you are doing coaching defensive linemen on Ed’s staff. Ed’s the best in the business and he demands his defensive linemen be competitive, play smart and hard, and you have to do your job on each snap. Nielson is the same way. I have had a chance to work with him and Ryan’s an outstanding teacher and he’s played that spot so he can relate to guys he is coaching. Ryan’s a super smart guy, very confident, a great technical coach and he is very detail oriented. He coaches hard and tough, but he is also a great teacher. Guys in college and the pros respect that element. People make a big deal about that Ryan didn’t coach in the pros. Well every year don’t they have a draft and pick college players to play in the NFL? It’s the same with coaches If you can coach you can coach at any level. The Saints got a top coach in Ryan Nielsen.”

Coach O getting top transfers

For the third time in less than 65 days LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and the LSU coaching staff have landed a top transfer prospect for 2018 in former Texas Tech wide receiver Jonathan Giles.

The 5-11, 185 pound end caught 69 passes for 1,158 yards and scored 13 touchdowns last season for the Red Raiders, but fell out of favor late in the season with the Texas Tech coaching staff.

Giles recently selected LSU over Florida State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Oregon, Louisville, SMU and Georgia.

The former quarterback at Fort Bend Elkins High School in Texas got off to a super fast start for the Red Raiders before teams started bracketing him from a coverage standpoint.

What I see on film about Giles is a very quick get-off end who knows how to work the short to intermediate areas of the field well and he is explosive after the catch.

In many ways Giles’ game is built along the same lines as former Oklahoma and Jacksonville Jaguars fourth round pick wide receiver Dede Westbrook. The Sooner All-American end and 2016 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner caught 74 passes for 1,465 yards and 16 scores last season.

Like Westbrook, Giles is a talented end with good hands and the ability to stretch the field, but he needs to physically get stronger to get off of hard “press” coverage spots and work on expanding his route-running tree.

Giles joins former North Carolina State and the son of NFL star wide receiver Randy Moss in 6-4, 240 pound tight end Thaddeus Moss and Giles’ Texas Tech teammate in defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko to sign with LSU.

Buddy D. Year #1 with the New Orleans Saints

It’s been since 2005 that legendary sportswriter and sportscaster Buddy Diliberto passed away. In the timeframe I worked with him on WWL-Radio he passed along to me many of his columns and notes taken during the early days of the Saints, and we had a lot of discussions about the 1967 opening season of the New Orleans Saints.

One of the stories he told me quite often was about the New Orleans Saints selecting NFL Hall of Fame running back Paul Hornung in the Veteran Expansion Draft.

“Think about early 1967 and Paul Hornung is one of the ten most recognizable names and faces in sports,” Buddy D. said. “Paul was the “Golden Boy”, he was the Heisman Trophy winner from Notre Dame and he was a major player on the first dynasty football team of the television age with the Green Bay Packers. In an age not known for running backs catching the ball like a receiver he was the best in the business doing that. Paul was a tremendous player along with Jimmy Taylor in that Packer backfield. He was also the field goal kicker for the Packers for a while. He was also a legendary “bad boy” off the field too. He loved the night life and loved the ladies, and they loved him. Paul got suspended in 1963 for a season after he was caught gambling on NFL games like Alex Karras (Detroit Lions) and also being associated with people the Commissioner (Pete Rozelle) considered to be undesirables. Paul was forthright about his gambling on games and Rozelle lifted the suspension in 1964. But by 1965 you could see Hornung was not the same player and the pinched nerve in his neck started to show up more and he was the only Green Bay Packer player to not play in Super Bowl I.”

“I knew from different folks in Green Bay and in the NFL that Vince Lombardi would expose him in the veteran pool of players to the Saints. *Hornung’s roommate in Green Bay, Max McGee, was a former Tulane player and I spoke to him and he told me he didn’t think Hornung would ever play again.

I knew very little about John Mecom at that time, but in looking back he was like a kid with his face pressed up against a store window looking at a new toy when Paul became available. I knew the Saints would take him. It gave this team a “star” name on a team that had never played a game. But if Lombardi thought he could play, he would have never put him on that list. Everyone knew despite the fact that he loved the nightlife he was Lombardi’s favorite player. That nerve issue had ended his career, but Hornung still had some hope it would heal enough for him to play. We didn’t know for sure on his health until July of 1967. The word from all the doctors was that Paul risked being paralyzed if he continued to play and he retired. And Paul went out in typical Hornung-style. He announced his retirement on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.”

But Diliberto found out later there was more to the Hornung/Saints story.

“Hornung was at the Saints training camp site at Cal-Western in San Diego and we threw back a few back then,” Diliberto said. “Paul told me he had a feeling things with the Saints were not going to work out well with Mecom running the team and he didn’t like all the indecision and constant changes on the team from the top. This was the first time young Mecom ever was running a business on his own without his dad, John Mecom, Sr., who was one of the richest men in the world, really running the show. This was all Mecom, Jr., and he didn’t know what he was doing. Hornung told me that Bedford Wynn, who was a stockholder with the Dallas Cowboys and a good friend of Pete Rozelle and Mecom, had spoken to him about a new contract.

Wynn was with the Saints now in an undefined spot with New Orleans. To this day I still never knew what he did for the Saints, but at that time he had Mecom’s ear. Wynn, like Mecom, loved big-name guys and he negotiated a deal in secret if Hornung passed a physical with the Saints they would have paid the “Golden Boy” $1 million dollars spread out over 3 years. Wynn was the same guy that convinced Mecom to deal the top overall pick in the 1967 draft, a third round pick in 1967 and a good young center from the Green Bay Packers in Bill Curry to the Baltimore Colts for quarterback Gary Cuozzo. It goes to show the craziness that was going on with this team at that point.”

Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeDetillier

"To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society" - Theodore Roosevelt
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Old 05-26-2017, 10:40 AM   #2
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Re: Saints Improvement Right Up the Middle -- Mike Detillier

Spot on assessment. This is the kind of writing that makes it hard to temper my enthusiasm. Who Dat!
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Old 05-26-2017, 11:42 PM   #3
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Re: Saints Improvement Right Up the Middle -- Mike Detillier

Excited!!! Is it football season yet.
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Old 05-27-2017, 12:04 AM   #4
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Re: Saints Improvement Right Up the Middle -- Mike Detillier

Originally Posted by QBREES9 View Post
Excited!!! Is it football season yet.
I think we are almost ready for anything.

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Old 05-27-2017, 12:08 AM   #5
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Re: Saints Improvement Right Up the Middle -- Mike Detillier

Thats Crazy, How did they get that gun in that cat.
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Old 05-27-2017, 12:10 AM   #6
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Re: Saints Improvement Right Up the Middle -- Mike Detillier

Originally Posted by QBREES9 View Post
Thats Crazy, How did they get that gun in that cat.
Proves the Saints staff is working extra hard and will do anything...

To answer your question... I'm sure it hurt.
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