Fielding an upgraded defense, Saints look to improve standin

Fielding an upgraded defense, Saints look to improve standin

Postautor: Angel92 » 3 sie 2017, o 04:36

For all of the moves the New Orleans Saints have made this offseason, the book on the team remains the same.
As long as Drew Brees and Sean Payton are in charge, the offense will be explosive.
But the defense has to carry more of the weight.
The Saints finished 28th in the NFL or worse in scoring defense in each of the past three years. Now, in training camp, Dennis Allen's unit must improve for the team to be a playoff contender.
"Our defense has to improve, and we’ve brought some guys in at every level with the D-line, the linebackers and safeties," general manager Mickey Loomis said Wednesday. "I feel good about the additions, but we’re going to have to get into this training camp and get into the early part of the season to see what the results are."
Injuries crippled the Saints' best-laid plans for defensive personnel the past two seasons, and Allen spent last year constantly tweaking his scheme to account for players moving in and out of the lineup.
"You know, in our league, you never know what's going to happen," Allen said. "All of a sudden, you have an injury or somebody's released, and now you've got to adjust your thought process."
With that in mind, the Saints spent the offseason determined to build depth at all levels of the defense.
New Orleans added edge rusher Alex Okafor, linebackers A.J. Klein and Manti Te'o, brought back safety Rafael Bush and spent five of its seven draft picks on defensive players.
"We're pretty much starting from scratch," defensive end Cameron Jordan said. "Three or four new linebackers, we've got another edge defender in Alex Okafor. We've got two new young guys in (Al-Quadin Muhammad) and Trey (Hendrickson). Hau'oli (Kikaha) is coming back healthy. You talk about the secondary — I don't know what the shape of that's going to be, but I do know this defense has high potential."
Allen's defense suffered at least one major blow before the team even reported for training camp last week.
When defensive tackle Nick Fairley was forced to the sideline for at least this season because of a heart condition, New Orleans lost a player who recorded 6½ sacks last season and was expected to be an integral part of the pass rush.
"The only area that was a step back initially would be Nick Fairley," Payton said. "That being said, we feel pretty good with some of the draft picks, some of the free agents — I mentioned the secondary. Some of these young guys are going to play.
"I know we are deeper at linebacker. When you just look from last year to this year, we are going to be better on defense. Now, in which areas and how much better is going to be important."
Allen's job in training camp is sifting through all his options to find the right mix in the starting lineup.
He can adjust his defense to fit just about any personnel group.
Figuring out what that personnel group should be is the tough part.
"At the end of the day, when we start playing games, the biggest thing is how do we get our best 11 players on the field, and how do we as a coaching staff try to do the things that they do the best?" Allen said.
The Saints defense is focused on other big-picture goals in training camp — namely forcing turnovers and playing better situational football.
NFL defenses have an almost endless database of information on opposing offenses, and good teams sift through that information to get a better idea of what a quarterback is trying to do on a given play.
"You can start eliminating what the offense is trying to do based on the situation, the formation and what time of game it is," safety Kenny Vaccaro said.
New Orleans is also focused on creating more turnovers after Terrance West Youth Jersey finishing in the middle of the pack a year ago.
"It's the biggest factor in today's game," Vaccaro said. "You can be last in the league in total yards but lead the league in turnovers — especially with the way we've been struggling the last couple of years — and to get turnovers, it can be a quick change, quick turnaround."
New Orleans has focused on all of these keys in previous seasons, too.
But the Saints know they need to turn the corner.
"I've said it in years before: We have high potential, but this year, we need to capitalize," Jordan said. "We need to recognize what we can be and reach for it."
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