There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, finally. Hope for a defensive resurrection in the Big Easy is now realistic. With the addition of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the Saints took a crucial step in overhauling a defense which has served as a ball and chain for the Black-and-Gold over the past several seasons.
Under Gary Gibbs, whom the Saints just fired after three lackluster years as defensive coordinator, the Saints were never an elite defensive team.
Part of the blame goes on the players, of course. There has been a dearth of talented defenders on the roster (especially in the secondary), and if you don’t have talent, you won’t win games, bottom line.
But Gibbs deserves some of the blame as well. Often times I felt New Orleans was far to conservative with defensive play calling.
Logically speaking, if you’re already weak in the secondary, and will likely be beat on a long ball anyway, why not send the house and hope for a quarterback hurry or sack? Why sit back and wait for your undersized, overmatched cornerbacks to be Fred Thomas toasted?
Gregg Williams is the type of guy who will call those blitzes. He’s the coach who is sending two linebackers and a safety on 3rd-and-11. He’s the defensive coordinator who led the Tennessee Titans to a near Super Bowl win in 2000.
And believe it or not, Williams might have some decent talent to work with next season, assuming the Saints can avoid the vicious injury bug that literally took their knees out from under them this season.
There are playmakers on every level of the defense. On the defensive line, there’s Sedrick Ellis and perhaps Will Smith and Charles Grant if they decide to actually give a damn this year. In the linebacking corps, there’s Jonathan Vilma, a tackling machine. And in the secondary, you’ve got the up-and-coming Tracy Porter.
The cupboard isn’t exactly bare for Gregg Williams. He’ll have some players to work with.
The Saints made a great move bringing Williams into the fold. I think he made the right decision as well. After all, who wouldn’t want to coach the defense on a team with the No. 1 offense?
He’s got a built in security blanket with Drew Brees, who’ll get him 25 points a game no problem. Williams can afford to take risks because he’ll know no lead is safe against the Saints' offense. And risk-taking is exactly what the Saints’ defense needs.
Let’s credit Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis for making the right move at the right time. It’s a great start to a hopefully prosperous offseason.