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How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Good article by Underhill. Perhaps the second best beat writer behind Triplett. How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley BY NICK UNDERHILL | NUNDERHILL@THEADVOCATE.COM JUN 29, 2017 - 11:49 AM (0) New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon ...

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Old 06-29-2017, 01:41 PM   #1
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How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

Good article by Underhill. Perhaps the second best beat writer behind Triplett.

How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

BY NICK UNDERHILL | NUNDERHILL@THEADVOCATE.COM JUN 29, 2017 - 11:49 AM (0)


New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (98) walks away after sacking Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) for a 3-yard-loss during the third quarter Monday, Dec. 4, 2016, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Lions won 28-13.
Advocate photo by SCOTT THRELKELD


Losing Nick Fairley before training camp even starts is one of the most unfortunate things that could have happened to the Saints.

That statement is obvious. But sometimes the events paint the picture. For those who have been watching this defense for the last three seasons, simply stating a key player was lost says it all.

This is the player the team signed to a four-year, $28 million deal this offseason with the hope he’d be one of the centerpieces to a defensive turnaround. He was prioritized over other options. Now he’s gone, and it's too late to do something else with the money.

This situation leaves the Saints in a bad spot, and it’s not going to be easy to find a way out. What was true before Fairley was for the season due to heart condition remains true now: This defense needs to be better everywhere to rise out of the bottom of the league rankings and escape the purgatory that has been three consecutive 7-9 finishes.

But without Fairley, the definition of better rises even higher for the players who remain available to play.

MAINTAIN THE INTERIOR

When the offseason began, and things started to unfold, New Orleans decided to continue to invest in its interior defensive line instead of shoring up the edges. There is nothing wrong with this approach. Fairley, who was one of the better interior rushers in the NFL last season, could and would have been a key part of the solution. The problem is that without him there are now questions everywhere else on the line.

The Saints have internal options, and it’s possible pieces of the solution are already on the roster. Second-year players Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata both have potential. But to say either of player is ready to fully replace Fairley before seeing what kind of progress they’ve made since last season would be overly optimistic.

The players admit it themselves.

When discussing the areas where he would like to improve this season, Rankins said he needs to become more dominate and do a better job of consistently winning his matchups. There’s a reason for this. Despite finishing last year with four sacks in nine games, he only had nine other pressures over 231 pass-rushing snaps. It’s entirely possible he’ll make the leap and come close to matching Fairley’s production, but progress needs to be seen before the Saints can fully exhale.

And, really, this situation might be more about how Onyemata, or whoever ends up next on the depth chart, plays than Rankins.

New Orleans played more than half of its snaps in sub packages last season. Rankins was going to be on the field for those snaps regardless of Fairley’s availability. The next man on the depth chart was not. So, it will be on Rankins to help cover Fairley’s lost production, and the next man to replace Rankins.

New Orleans has played around with moving defensive ends like Darryl Tapp inside, and Cam Jordan is always an option to kick in and rush from the interior. But before any of those players are penciled in, the Saints will need to see what they have on the edges and see how those players perform with pads on.

FIND THE EDGE

Fairley was responsible for creating at least three or four sacks for other players last season by flushing the quarterback out of the pocket and into a teammate’s arms. We never saw his full impact in this regard because New Orleans never located a productive option at defensive end opposite Jordan last season.

Not that they ever had this luxury last year, but the Saints won’t have the option to be weak off the edges this season. If they are, the rest of the defense will follow suit.

That doesn’t mean this is a hopeless situation. Hau’oli Kikaha showed a lot of promise as a rookie in 2015 before he suffered an ankle injury that slowed him down and missed all of 2016 with a torn ACL. He's expected to line up at defensive end after playing linebacker as a rookie, which could help the team get more out of him. Kiakaha excelled at the position while in college, where he recorded 19 sacks as a senior and 12 1/2 as a junior.

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Old 06-29-2017, 03:26 PM   #2
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Re: How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

stopping the run at DT was my number one issue in 2017 and still is in 2018. Lets see what happens with the bench. couple of mid round draft picks are about to get their chance.
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Old 06-29-2017, 04:57 PM   #3
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Re: How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

Originally Posted by hagan714 View Post
stopping the run at DT was my number one issue in 2017 and still is in 2018. Lets see what happens with the bench. couple of mid round draft picks are about to get their chance.
According to Football Outsiders, the D-line took a big step forward last season.

2016
FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | 2016 DEFENSIVE LINES

2015
FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | 2015 DEFENSIVE LINES

Hopefully, losing Fairly doesn't completely kill the improvement momentum but I'm still optimistic. Rankins and Onyemata both looked good in their rookie seasons. Okafor may not end up being a stud but he should easily be better than Kruger was for us. If those mid round draft picks work out, this could be a solid DLine.
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Old 06-29-2017, 05:51 PM   #4
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Re: How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

Besides what happens on the field, the loss of Armstead, Fairley, and Unger, all most likely for the year despite what some say, really hampers what the Saints can do financially. The NFL really needs to look into some type of cap relief when a situation like Fairley's happens. Give the team some extra space and if the owner wants to spend his money, so be it. Injuries in relation to the cap shouldn't be such a determining factor as to the quality of play and competition on the field.
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Old 06-29-2017, 06:15 PM   #5
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Re: How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

Stopping run wasnt the peoblem getting to the QB was
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Old 06-29-2017, 06:16 PM   #6
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Re: How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

Anything would be a upgrade to Kruger
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Old 06-29-2017, 06:28 PM   #7
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Re: How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

Originally Posted by Cruize View Post
Besides what happens on the field, the loss of Armstead, Fairley, and Unger, all most likely for the year despite what some say, really hampers what the Saints can do financially. The NFL really needs to look into some type of cap relief when a situation like Fairley's happens. Give the team some extra space and if the owner wants to spend his money, so be it. Injuries in relation to the cap shouldn't be such a determining factor as to the quality of play and competition on the field.
Unger is going to be back by the beginning of the season. Do you keep up with is going on?
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Old 06-29-2017, 06:29 PM   #8
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Re: How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

Originally Posted by Rell&Gold View Post
Stopping run wasnt the peoblem getting to the QB was
This is true.
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Old 06-29-2017, 06:35 PM   #9
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Re: How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

Originally Posted by Utah_Saint View Post
According to Football Outsiders, the D-line took a big step forward last season.

2016
FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | 2016 DEFENSIVE LINES

2015
FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | 2015 DEFENSIVE LINES

Hopefully, losing Fairly doesn't completely kill the improvement momentum but I'm still optimistic. Rankins and Onyemata both looked good in their rookie seasons. Okafor may not end up being a stud but he should easily be better than Kruger was for us. If those mid round draft picks work out, this could be a solid DLine.
we will see if the secondary can stay healthy and not have a sign out asking teams to pass. thus the huge need for a pass rush.

healthy secondary will show what the DL can do

I through all of last years stats out the window
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Old 06-29-2017, 06:39 PM   #10
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Re: How the Saints can overcome the loss of Nick Fairley

Originally Posted by hagan714 View Post
we will see if the secondary can stay healthy and not have a sign out asking teams to pass. thus the huge need for a pass rush.

healthy secondary will show what the DL can do

I through all of last years stats out the window
I am staying positive. Kickass potential in the secondary ... and depth, which was absent last year.
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