METAIRIE, La. – Malcolm Jenkins isn’t totally worried that the New Orleans Saints rank last in total yards defense in the NFL.
He also couldn’t care less that they’re 20th in first downs allowed.
What does chap him and what does drive him crazy is ranking in turnovers – tied for 30th at minus-four with only one take-away.
“We want to be great but I don’t think our main goal is to be the No. 1 team against offensive yards,” Jenkins said. “We don’t care about that. Our offense is going to put up yards. We know teams are going to throw the ball against us.
“But I do think we want to lead the league in turnovers and if we do that, we give Drew the ball more, more points to put on offense and the more opportunities we get to get turnovers. It’s like a cycle when you can do those things. We’ve just got to get the ball rolling a little bit.”
Saints coaches constantly harp on the fact that, in general, the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game. Interim head coach Aaron Kromer said earlier this week that the team’s poor standing in the take-away, give-away category is one of the reasons they’re 0-2 this season.
In 2009, the Saints were No. 2 in the NFL in takeaways, nabbing 39, including 26 interceptions.
Since, however, that numbers has gone down. Way down.
In 2010 it dropped to 25 takeaways. And, a season ago, the Saints grabbed only 16, next-to-last in the league.
There’s a correlation, Kromer said, in getting pressure on the quarterback – which the Saints haven’t done this season – and getting turnovers.
“Defensively, you’d say that turnovers are caused by pressure on the quarterback first so you need to get the pass rush there,” Kromer said. “Whether it’s blitzing, whether it is four-man rush, you have to get pressure on the quarterback to force him into an uncomfortable situation to throw you the football. That is number one.“
And yet, the problems aren’t just on defense.
Quarterback Drew Brees has thrown four interceptions and receiver Marques Colston fumbled near the goal line in the season opener.
Brees’ interceptions are more unnerving for the team; Carolina returned the first one for a touchdown this past Sunday. But offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. said Brees is the last person on the team who needs to be ranted and raved at.
“I think it is not a jump his case and rant and rave (situation),” Carmichael said. “It’s a communication (situation), but obviously he knows himself better. He is his hardest critic. He is going to be hard on himself, but we still meet and we still talk about it.”