Heading into Friday’s preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, all eyes were on the Saints defense to see how much it had improved after finishing 23rd and 30th in pass defense over the past two seasons, respectively.
In particular, the one player who seemed to be the blame for all of the Saints defensive woes the past two seasons, Jason David, was the one with the most pupils on him last night.
The sixth-year corner is at a breaking point heading into this season. Despite leading the Saints in interceptions in both of his seasons since joining the team, he has been a target for most opponents passing games and has done very little to stop them from picking on him.
It is partly due to his slight 5'8" frame that seems to attract most quarterbacks to just throw over the top of him, and partly due to the fact that he is still having trouble adjusting to the man-to-man scheme that is mostly played here in New Orleans, which is completely different from the Cover-two corner role he played in his three years with the Indianapolis Colts.
Whatever the reason may be for his shortcomings, he has done very little to live up to the four-year, $16 million contract he was given as a free agent in 2007 to leave the World Champion Colts and join the Saints.
So after choosing cornerbacks in the past two NFL Drafts--Tracy Porter in 2008 and Malcolm Jenkins in 2009—and signing Jabari Greer to a four-year, $23 million contract this offseason, it seems David is on the chopping block if he doesn’t start living up to some of the expectations he had when he signed with the Saints.
From his performance in Friday’s exhibition game, I don’t think David has received that message yet.
He was targeted early in the game by Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, in a situation which the Saints sent a blitz on a third-and-5 play in the first quarter and left David in man coverage on Pro-Bowl receiver Chad Ochocinco.
Ochocinco caught a short pass, had David completely whiff on the tackle attempt and turned up field for a 55-yard gain.
Not exactly the start David was hoping for.
For the rest of the game, for the most part, David’s responsibility was to keep former Belle Chase standout Chris Henry under wraps.
Henry finished the game with seven catches for 100 yards including a 40-yard bomb and a 14-yard touchdown pass that literally went right over David’s head.
I think it’s safe to say David didn’t exactly excel in his role in Friday’s game.
It’s also safe to say that David won’t be run out of town just because of his poor performance in the Saints’ first preseason game.
He has shown the ability to come up with big plays for the Saints defense and teams can always use cornerbacks that make big plays. He will have every opportunity to earn his roster spot in the next three preseason games.
But if we see more of what we saw from David in the Bengals game over these next three preseason matchups, one thing we won’t be seeing is him in a Saints jersey once the regular season starts back up.