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MIA: Our defense has never been the same since we didn't replace Scott Fujita

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Posted 09-29-2014 at 12:38 PM by Halo
Updated 09-29-2014 at 07:11 PM by Halo (Misspelled Fujita (darn auto-correct)!)

I made some comments below in a thread about losing Fujita, Vilma, and even Shanle speculating that we lack a field general QB on defense. Last night against the Cowboys there were moments when I saw lack of communication between defensive players and it hurt. In fact, our defense has lacked communication since Fujita left.

Scott Fujita and Jonathan Vilma were a potent forced when paired together on the Saints defense. During the 09-10 SuperBowl season, their level of intensity and communication made the defense excel far beyond their potential. They made sure players were in position on the field.

After Fujita left, Vilma carried the torch alone. He did a great job and enlisted help from fellow linebacker Scott Shanle who was a marginal player at best, but helped to offer leadership on the field and in the locker room.

But now that Fujita, Vilma and even Shanle are gone, who has stepped up to the plate to replace them?

In 2013 Roman Harper was a vocal torch bearer on the defense. In 2014, Harper gets cut and replaced with pro bowler Jairus Byrd. All-Pro experience or not, Byrd seems out of his element. A Saints safety is someone who must not only cover pass and ball hawk, but he also needs to, at any moment, b-line toward the defensive line to stop a rush. The Saints defensive line play is deficient in every category. Saints LB's are not fully capable of filling those deficiencies. So Saints Safeties must "cheat up" as much as possible to play arguably 3 rolls on the field. No wonder Byrd is having such a hard time transitioning?

In conclusion, since Fujita left the Saints in 2010 for the Browns, the Saints never really replaced him, and the Vilma-Fujita duo became a one man show with Vilma (and sometimes Shanle lending a hand). The Saints front office needs to step back and take a long, hard look at personnel decisions on defense over the past 4 years and re-evaluation their next moves.

Originally Posted by Halo View Post
We also plugged difficiencies in our LB corp with Safeties. We had two "leaders" on defense in Vilma and Shanle. Vilma was the field general. Shanle stepped up when Scott Fujita left for Cleveland.

We have never replaced those leaders on defense. Like their play or not, our LB's are essentially invisible on the field. I've said since the first game that our defense plays like they are only playing with 10 men on the field, that's because there's a double deficiency somewhere - probably poor d-line and unreliable LB's to plug those holes.

So we FIX the problem with safeties. Everyone trashes Roman Harper, but now it's apparent he was plugging holes as an outside linebacker. We didn't have the foresight to simply name him "OLB" on the roster and make way.

Finally, folks mentioning Malcolm Jenkins with 3 int's for the Iggles. He's able to play a TRUE safety position and let his talent shine at the Eagles because they have competent defensive linemen and talent at LB. At the saints he roamed between safety, CB and LB watching runners blow past the d-line, then past the LB's into the secondary where he has to make the tackles. At the Eagles he can ball hawk!

I've ALWAYS said, draft LB early and often, as much as possible. Great LB's can not only be field general QB's on defense, some are great pass defenders as well as run stoppers. At this point, anything has to be an improvement, but LB may be a great starting point.
Posted in Sports, Saints
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Total Comments 4


  1. Old Comment
    WHODATINCA's Avatar
    Did I see Shanle on the side-line in the Dallas game?
    Posted 09-29-2014 at 09:50 PM by WHODATINCA WHODATINCA is offline

  2. Old Comment
    Halo's Avatar
    Originally Posted by WHODATINCA View Comment
    Did I see Shanle on the side-line in the Dallas game?
    DUDE, we'll take any help we can get!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Maybe he can coach because our LB's ain't much!!!
    Posted 09-29-2014 at 10:23 PM by Halo Halo is offline
  3. Old Comment
    hagan714's Avatar
    i understand the love for athletic freaks and all that stuff but i appears that one issue that has been over looked. it is a simple evaluation. can they play football? take the right angles and all that simple stuff.

    I think we have gotten to far away from the lunch pail mentality on defense. there is a lot to be said about a player that does nothing great but does everything else well. that is what we had back then.
    Posted 10-01-2014 at 10:42 AM by hagan714 hagan714 is offline
  4. Old Comment
    SaintsBro's Avatar
    It was the double whammy of Fujita leaving combined with the decline in Vilma's health. Those two were definitely a factor in the defensive decline. Also people ragged on him, but by losing Jenkins you lost a defensive captain, which is a leadership and locker room role, it is so much more than an honorary title or empty platitude.
    Posted 10-02-2014 at 09:20 AM by SaintsBro SaintsBro is offline
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