Coming into the 2009 season I have spent time wondering if the Saints have done everything they need to repair the defense. Lead by QB Drew Brees, the Saints are a team with one of the most feared offenses in the NFL. The Saints have brought in a couple of veterans on the defensive side of the ball, but brought in depth at every position as well.
The players I feel that will have the biggest impact for the Saints in 2009 are veterans Darren Sharper and Jabari Greer. Sharper, the current career interceptions leader in the NFL, brings leadership to a young secondary. He will most likely start at the free safety position and will compete to stay the current interceptions leader.
Jabari Greer, coming over from Buffalo, has a pair of pick six's in 2008, but is not a ball hawk. The speedy cornerback has struggled staying healthy, which to me is a concern. Does anybody remember why Jason David was starting because of injuries?
The Saints have addressed a lot along the secondary and brought in depth at every position, but I do not feel the Saints have done enough to become a top 10 defense yet. The Saints have yet to address what can make or break some defenses, and that is getting after the quarterback.
If you take a look at some of the top defenses in the NFL you will see that they all have a solid amount of sacks. Getting sacks doesn't always mean being the best defense, but it can benefit any secondary. If the Saints want to cause more turnovers in 2009 than 2008, they will simply need to get after the quarterback on a consistent basis.
Bringing pressure to the quarterback does a lot more than just cause interceptions—it creates incompletions and can shake up nearly any quarterback. If a quarterback is flushed out of the pocket, it takes him time to reset his footing and throw the ball.
Most quarterbacks are not as great on the run as they are in the pocket, which will cause more incompletions, sacks, interceptions, and last but not least, will get the opposing teams offense off of the field.
The Saints have a solid defensive line starting in the inside with second year player Sedrick Ellis. Ellis will demand double teams and will let loose any blitzers and the defensive ends. If Rod Coleman can return to even half of the form he had when he was with a division rival, the Saints could have an outstanding amount of pressure in the inside which will result in the quarterback being flushed out the pocket.
If the Saints defensive ends can return to their top performance you can see the sack total for the Saints rise. Defensive ends Will Smith, Charles Grant, Bobby McCray, and Paul Spicer will be expected to bring pressure from the outside, forcing the quarterback to either take a step inside to the defensive tackles or get rid of the ball.
Then comes the pressure from either the secondary or the linebackers. Expect the new defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, to blitz his linebackers and safeties often. Williams wants his defensive players to be aggressive—not let the offense attack first, but attack the offense first. That is the style his defenses play with.
Expect the linebackers of the Saints to blitz a lot more than they have in past years which will keep some pressure off of the secondary and the defensive linemen.
This is just my belief on what the Saints need to do in 2009 to boost up the defense. You can bring in as many great corners as you want, but pressure is needed or the quarterback will find the open man. The more pressure the Saints bring the more turn overs.