Saints Cruising For A Beating

Roy LaFaverCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 13:  Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons runs for yards after the catch against Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints at Georgia Dome on December 13, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Saints won 26-23. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Saints, untouchable for eleven games, appear suddenly very beatable.  While field goals and extra points have become a concern to many, that is really secondary to rising problems on the defensive unit.

The number one priority for a defense is to tackle well.  The Saints were doing that, and now they are not.  Washington and Atlanta used the short passing game to run up huge yardage totals, and missed tackles played a big role.  I know Sharper got burned for a long one in the Atlanta game, but that isn't going to hurt the Saints.  Allowing a team to control the clock with short passes and the running game is the only thing that can hurt the Saints.  I think anyone with knowledge about this season realizes the Saints offense is unstoppable on the playing field.  However, they cannot score from the sideline, and in the first half of the Atlanta game they had plenty of time to study photos.  They were on the sideline a lot.  This leaves the offense with the problem of scoring more quickly so they can get more possessions.  The problem with that is the other side also gets more possessions, and the Saints aren't showing any capability of stopping the other guys.

It appears now that the offense must score at least 30 points to protect the defense, and even that might not get it done (shades of 07 and 08).  I can understand Sharper slowing a bit as the season progresses, but there is no excuse for the lackluster play of the Saints millionaire defensive ends, never mind our billionaire tackle.  Both Campbell and Redman looked like all pros, except when there was a hint of pressure.  Thankfully Redman lost all-pro status when the defense got within six feet.  That only happened twice, but both times Redman caved.  If they had played on a field of charcoal, Redman's uniform would have been spotless after the game.

I have been a big fan of Greg Williams, and I still am.  The Saints injury list is long, to be sure.  But with a depleted secondary Williams absolutely must find a way to bring pressure with the front four.  Those guys have plenty of money in the bank, so the inspiration will have to come from something else.  Williams must also re-instill the importance of making a tackle with the first hit.  The corner backs are repeatedly getting de-cleated on short passes, and this really needs to be addressed.

So what will the stories be after our Saturday night date with the Cowboys?  Will the 'Boys be 0-3 in December, or will the stories be about the "overated" Saints falling from their pedestal?

I still have faith in Williams, and I think the Saints will be 14-0, but you know that Romo and Phillips have to be licking their chops while viewing tape of the previous two Saints games.  Dallas is desperate.  If they lose Saturday they can all but kiss the playoffs goodbye.  Jabari Greer, where are you?