Although the Saints secondary is the weakest link it has shown some flashes, one of them being Jason David, who lead the Saints in interceptions and Usama Young who had a pair of interceptions.
Let's take a look at the 2009 secondary statistics. This will be done using the cornerbacks and safeties and will include the newest players to the Saints' secondary.
Randall Gay: In 14 games with 13 starts, Gay recorded 52 tackles, one sack and 15 pass deflections.
Tracy Porter: In just five starts as a rookie, Porter showed flashes and recorded 23 tackles, one sack, five pass deflections and one interception.
Jabari Greer: In 10 games with 10 starts, Greer recorded 38 tackles, one forced fumble, seven pass deflections and two interceptions, both resulting in touchdowns.
Jason David: In 14 games with 6 starts, David recorded 23 tackles, 10 pass deflections and five interceptions.
Darren Sharper: In 16 games and starts, Sharper recorded 69 tackles, five pass deflections and one interception.
Roman Harper: In 15 games with 15 starts, Harper recorded 89 tackles and had nine pass deflections.
Usama Young: In 15 games with two starts, Young recorded 50 tackles, eight pass deflections and two interceptions.
Pierson Prioleua: In 16 games with one start, Prioleaua recorded 26 tackles.
As one can see, the Saints' secondary does indeed have players that could all perform better than others. If there is one man who will play for his players strengths it will be Gregg Williams. Here are my projected starters for each position and my analysis on how to use them in certain situations.
Starting Corner backs: Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter
Nickel Back: Randall Gay
Dime Back: Malcolm Jenkins
Free Safety: Darren Sharper
Strong Safety: Roman Harper
Yes, I know people are thinking, "How can you put our first rounder as the dime back?" I don't see him as the starting cornerback just yet. I've spent time thinking about this and I'd like to see the Saints develop Jenkins, yet still plug him in on certain packages. Expect to see Williams use Jenkins everywhere and for different looks; perhaps putting up against the tight ends might work in their favor.
This is how I would like to see the Saints use some of their players in certain situations: blitzes, over the top, and roaming around in the middle of the field.
Tracy Porter has the speed to get after the quarterback and has already recorded a sack on a blitz. I would like to see him used as a blitzer at times.
Roman Harper is more of the hit hard, up close, on the line safety and I don't feel comfortable with Harper over the top defending the pass. I would like to see him blitzed and I feel if matched up against a running back, he could beat them for the sack.
Randall Gay: Another cornerback who recorded a sack for the Saints in 2008, I feel he can be one of the best nickels in the NFL. If used as one, he could get after the passer to help force more interceptions.
These three players could be very effective at chasing the pass rusher and could create some turnovers for the Saints. The more the Saints get after the quarterback and have him on his back, the more players stopped dead in their tracks and the more pressure that will be put on the line.
Mid Field Safety:
Malcolm Jenkins: The rookie out of Ohio State will be battling for one of the starting cornerback positions but I feel he could be used in many ways for the Saints on tight ends against teams like the Falcons, Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Redskins. His size and great ball skills could help create some interceptions if put in the middle of the field.
Usama Young: Usama Young is entering his third year with the New Orleans Saints but his first at the safety position. Young was amongst the team leaders in interceptions with two and has proved to be a solid tackler recorded 50. Young is a big defensive back standing at 6'0 and 200 pounds and just like Jenkins could be used as a midfield safety to try to create some turn overs for the Saints.
Jason David: Jason David has proved to be a ball hawk through out his career and has recorded 16 interceptions in five seasons both with the Colts and the Saints. Last year David was constantly burned downfield and giving up a touchdown but he could very well be a solid midfield player. I've always felt if David was used the right way he could be force in the Saints' secondary. It would be better to use David in this manner than to let him roam freely in the middle of the field looking for a pick to add to his resume.
Third and Longs:
Darren Sharper: The active NFL interception leader is great in coverage. He might have lost a step but he is being brought into a system where they want him to be aggressive and get interceptions.
Randall Gay: I would like to see Gay used in a blitz a lot more, but when used in coverage, Randall Gay is solid and could help cut down those conversions on third down.
Malcolm Jenkins: Jenkins could be used to help double cover bigger receivers on those third and longs. He could take Roman Harper out on those passing downs and he won't be used in a blitz.
Tracy Porter: He is my number two corner, so he would be in.
Jabari Greer: He is my number one corner, so he would be able to help keep the faster receivers out of the picture.
Jason David: Jason David could do well against the fourth receiver on the field and would likely not get burnt like he would against number ones or twos.
That is my prediction on third downs. assuming that we would play them with four linemen and Vilma holding down the middle as well. I like the Saints' secondary for the 2009 season and I expect them to do a lot better than in '08. I think if the Saints can turn some of those pass deflections into interceptions the Saints offense will be able to close out a lot more games for us.
Expect the safety play to be a lot better in 2009 due to Darren Sharper. Not just for his play but for what he brings to the table to help develop the younger guys. He gives the safeties something to learn as far as veteran leadership goes. This will help the play of young safety in Roman Harper.