Despite winning a Super Bowl in the 2009 season against the Indianapolis Colts and the team's rise to the top of the NFL over the last six years under Sean Payton, the New Orleans Saints remain one of the most underappreciated franchises in the NFL.
New Orleans is one of the smallest media markets in the National Football League, which certainly lends itself to being one of the most underrepresented teams in the national media's conscience.
For that reason, it is no surprise the New Orleans Saints banked just five players in the second annual NFL Network Top 100, despite being one of the five best teams in the NFL. And that's with a group made up of many superior individual talents sprinkled across its roster.
One could make a legitimate claim that Marques Colston is one of the most underrated players in the entire league. He is yet to make an NFL Pro Bowl, despite being one of the league's most consistent receivers.
But no player is less appreciated on this team than cornerback Jabari Greer.
Since joining the New Orleans Saints as a free agent from Buffalo in the 2009 offseason, Greer has been a key factor in improving the team's pass defense. Though he's only had five interceptions in his three seasons with the Saints, his presence in the Saints secondary made for a much-improved defense.
It's important to remember great corners often do not rack up interceptions the way mediocre corners do. Nnamdi Asomugha was never a high interception figure player during his time with the Raiders, yet during that time most experts considered him the preeminent corner in the league.
Who is the Saints' most underrated player?
Greer has never had more than two interceptions in any season with the Saints. But he turned two of his five interceptions from 2009 to 2011 into pick sixes (interceptions returned for touchdown). Few players hold a 40 percent touchdown interception ratio over the last three years.
That is Asomugha-esque. So is the lack of pass attempts his way.
Patrick Robinson and Tracy Porter saw tons of pass attempts their way over the last two seasons because Porter was constantly locking down the other team's best receiver (or at least one of their top targets).
Sure he got beat deep on occasion, but in today's NFL where every team throws the ball at least 50 percent of the time there really is no such thing as a shutdown corner. There are, however, top corners who rarely get beat and are good enough to slow down the NFL's top receivers.
Very few of the great receivers the Saints have played in the past three years have had big games against them. That's because of Greer, and his ability to hold down the other team's top target.
If not for Greer, who knows how bad the Saints defense would have been over the past three years. With him, teams rarely threw the ball effectively down the field.
And in 2011, Greer managed 71 tackles over 16 games. Many of those were plays he made in the running game. His ability to come up and slow down runners at the line of scrimmage made the Saints run defense among the best in the game, especially in the second half of the year.
Somehow Porter was snubbed from both the 2011 season's Pro Bowl and this year's NFL Network Top 100. That very statement proves just how underrated Porter is.
If only Greer and the Saints were more well-known. The team and the player would get their due.
It's okay, though; the Saints and their fans know how great Greer truly is. If the team wins in 2012 it will likely be due to the continued great play of Greer.
It would only make sense for him to continue to do what he's been doing the last three years.