Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
Who or what is to blame for the Saints defensive disaster?
Could it be Steve Spagnuolo and his new plan? I mean we all grew tired of the Gregg Williams strategy of taking kerosene, matches, fireworks, a blitzing Roman Harper then hoping for the best, but maybe old Gregg had it right; the Saints defense is so devoid of talent or ability to run a complicated scheme let’s just set the house on fire to keep warm in the winter and hope for the best. Whatever happens it will burn real pretty.
Arson as a defensive philosophy has holes of course (see Smith, Alex) but as much as it pains me to say it I think I’d prefer the Gregg Williams defense to the 2012 Saints. At least Gregg Williams defense was interesting and whatever was going to happen usually did so very quickly.
Watching the Saints defense slowly bleed to death in the alley against Kansas City was agony. Seeing Jamaal Charles go 91 yards is infinitely easier to stomach than the two drives where the Chiefs kicked the game tying and winning field goals. I like my suffering to be quick.
But why is the Saints defense so awful? And let’s be honest we are going on year seven of crappy defense in the Sean Payton-Mickey Loomis era. The 2009 Saints defense rode turnovers and a career year from Darren Sharper, but let’s not pretend like they were anything else. Making huge plays at critical times is awesome, but it doesn’t make something consistently good.
The Saints defense is horrid because the Saints draft picks the last seven years have been a big bag of fail. My friend Andrew Juge at The Saints Nation broke down every defensive player taken since 2006.
It’s a combination of mediocre, average, and flat out whiffs. The Saints have used four first round picks (Sedrick Ellis, Malcolm Jenkins, Patrick Robinson, and Cam Jordan) and every single one of them is at best adequate.
Ellis is in a contract year and hasn’t lived up to the Top 10 pick the Saints traded up to get him with. Malcolm Jenkins peaked when he did this on Thanksgiving Day 2010. Ever since then it’s been a downward spiral. The jury is still out on Patrick Robinson and Cam Jordan but neither looks like a pro bowl caliber player.
The Saints took Roman Harper and Tracy Porter in the second round. Harper can be really good at times near the line of scrimmage, but teams look to destroy him in coverage.
Tracy Porter I think was probably the Saints best defensive pick so far under Sean Payton. Despite the injuries and inconsistent play Porter has elite pass defense skills and we’ll always have the Super Bowl.
While Mickey Loomis and company have uncovered offensive talent all over the draft and off the street, the next elite defensive player they draft will be the first.
It’s not all bad news as Akiem Hicks looks like he’ll be the best defensive tackle the Saints have had since La'roi Glover. So they have that going for them.
You might not have noticed it but the Saints off-season plan to upgrade the linebackers is up in smoke. David Hawthorne and Chris Chamberlain are both injured making the 2012 Saints defense the same as the 2011 Saints defense except Curtis Lofton is playing the role of Jonathan Vilma.
The Chiefs wore the Saints linebackers out. I won’t get into the statistics because this is a family website but just know this defense is on pace to be spectacular in it’s terribleness.
So blame Spags if it makes you feel better, but somebody should ask Loomis when he returns from suspension why the drafts have been so bad.
Sean Payton sabbatical spot of the week: Roswell, New Mexico. I wonder if Payton thought aliens had taken over Saints offensive players bodies when he watched them not get a first down or complete a pass after taking a 24-6 lead? He could hang out at the International UFO Museum and wait for a Martian landing because that’s more likely to happen than the Saints winning in Green Bay.
Last week: 2-3
Green Bay (-7.5) vs. New Orleans: Let the record reflect in spite of my poor picks so far this year I’m 3-0 picking Saints games and I think was the only local media person to pick them to lose the last two weeks.
After the Packers got hosed Monday night I’d feel really good about the Saints chances if the game was in the Superdome. Green Bay’s offensive line gave up eight first half sacks in Seattle so maybe with the Dome crowd the Saints could have a pass rush.
That’s not happening in Lambeau Field.
The Saints are the perfect opponent for a struggling Packers offense. Don’t forget the Saints offensive line was dominated at home in the second half by the Chiefs. Clay Mathews may kill Drew Brees. I’m not even kidding.
Here is how this game will go…The Saints will come out early and score and Green Bay will answer. The Packers will pressure Brees and the turnovers will start. The upside? No fourth quarter suffering this week. It will be like getting hit by a bus; a moment of horrifying terror and then everything will go black.
I almost picked the Saints in this game thinking Drew Brees might will the Saints to win with an out of this world game but I’ll just settle for him to keep the touchdown pass streak alive. I read on a University of Arkansas fan site that, “False hope is worse than death.” I agree and so I won’t give you any. This is what rock bottom feels like.
San Francisco (-4) vs. New York Jets: Reader Allan set along this email:
“I totally agree with your commentary on the replacement refs. Here's hoping the European-style soccer riot happens during the 49ers/Vikings game complete with footage of Jim Harbaugh taking a swing at the head ref.
I still say the officials’ lock out should be settled by a Texas-style cage match between Ed Hochuli and Roger Goodell. Whistlemonster could be the ref, and he allows Jonathan Vilma to race in and hit Goodell with a chair.
After all, the WWE is starting to sound more realistic than this pay-to-injure charge the NFL is making on the Saints.”
We all know if a coach is going to take a swing at a scab ref it’s going to be Harbaugh or Joe Vitt.
Atlanta (-7) vs. Carolina: If Atlanta makes the Super Bowl we’ll just call the 2012 Season the worst football season ever. Cam Newton is regressing.
Minnesota (+4) at Detroit: The Vikings were my sleeper team for 2012 and Jim Schwartz is Jim Haslett 2.0. The Lions are undisciplined, unorganized, but have fun offensive talent just begging to be wasted.
Arizona (-6.5) vs. Miami: The Cards are winning with no quarterback and nasty defense led by Patrick Peterson. Remember when the Saints defense looked so good against them in the preseason? Good times.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on Facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.