I was over at Stampede Blue yesterday having a lengthy, heated discussion about the Saints defense.
It started innocently enough. One of their fans said, "I hope Peyton Manning throws for 500 yards in the SB". I replied, "Me too because that means he will probably have thrown 3 interceptions."
I had no idea the irrational and mildly off-topic backlash that I was about to endure...
They must have took my comment as me predicting our defense would get 3 INT's and completely shut Manning down. (I'm only predicting 2 INT's, actually.)
As uninformed people often do, they started spouting off useless drivel that they get from the media like, "Saints have the 26th ranked defense", "Saints give up too many points", "5 of Manning's 16 INT's weren't his fault; they were tipped passes." etc.
I tried to give them valid, meaningful statistical data; but it either fell on deaf ears or flew right over their heads.
Here were some of my rebuttals:
"We can give up more than an average number of points because we have the #1 scoring offense in the league."
They replied with BS stats like: "they are 22nd in yards allowed per drive and 16th in points allowed per drive."
As I've already beat to death, YARDS per game/drive/play is virtually USELESS.
"We have the #1 redzone defense in the league."
They didn't have much to say to this one either, other than some BS about giving up a lot of yardage.
"We held opposing QB's to the lowest average passer rating in the league."
They wanted to know where my stats were from, and said it was because of turnovers. I agreed wholeheartedly. It is about the turnovers... better yet, lets call them what they really are TAKEAWAYS.
(see the next one for more about TO's)
"We're #2 in takeaways."
The saddest reply, and it's a thought that many Saints fans had (and still have)... "You can't count on turnovers. They're lucky flukes and only happen as a result of miscues by the opposing offenses."
LET ME CLUE YOU IN... All but one of the turnovers in the Vikings game were TAKEAWAYS. We stripped and recovered the ball. We were in the right position to intercept the ball. WE TOOK THE BALL AWAY. They were not given to us. If we were better at covering fumbles and if there was no un-called OPI on Greer, we could have has NINE TAKEAWAYS... but I'll settle for five.
Another funny thing they brought up about turnovers...
"5 of Peytons INT's were from tipped passes" My reply, "So are you saying the Saints aren't allowed to tip his passes?" They didn't like my sarcasm. But here are the facts..
There are 4 major reasons for interceptions: QB error, tipped balls by the offense, tipped balls by the defense, and good one-man defensive play.
I'll give Peyton credit, he's not prone to QB error; and I don't expect the SB to be much different in this category.
And, tipped balls by the offense happen on occasion. If they're saying all 5 of Peyton's tipped balls are from his offense, I'd say he has a reason to be concerned because we'll be right there to take their "gifts".
But... tipped balls by the defense are not gifts. Someone on the defense had to tip it, and someone had to catch it. It's a great two-man defensive play, as opposed to a one-man play. Either way, our defense has had many of these.
Our defense causes turnovers AND we've been good at being in the right place to take advantage of miscues by opposing offenses. Don't underestimate 'being in the right place at the right time'!
It's not luck that Tracy Porter was in position to intercept Brett's last pass. He read the QB, read the WR, hustled his a$$ off to get to the right spot, and yes, Brett made a mistake by throwing the ball. But, if Porter didn't read, react, and hustle, the Vikes would be in the Super Bowl.
"We're #2 in scoring defense."
This one they had a real problem with... mostly semantics. They thought I meant we held teams to the lowest points against, which obviously is the Jets.
I'm not sure what's so hard to understand...
"We have the #1 scoring offense" means "Our offense scores more points than all other offenses."
"We have the #2 scoring defense" means "Our defense scores more points than all other defenses, except one."
Their only reply went back to 'turnovers are pure luck'.
At any rate...
After about 45 minutes of this back and forth, I decided to call it quits and listen in on the CSC podcast... but the "debate" stuck in my head for the rest of the night.
As I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I came to two important realizations...
#1. I'm extremely grateful that Gregg Williams came to the Saints this year. He's brought a new swagger and a new attitude to our defense.
Saints fans... Don't underestimate that new attitude!
As the Colts fans did, we Saints fans used to think that turnovers and points off turnovers on defense were gifts from God. They were mistakes by the opposing offense. They weren't things we could go after.
Some Saints fans still consider them a gift from above. Get that out of your head! The Vikings game proved it!! Turnovers can be caused by a defense. We don't have to wait for them to magically appear!
#2. I don't want them to know how good our defense is. I want them to be shocked out of their minds when we intercept their "prefect" Peyton and cause their WR's and/or RB's to fumble.
I only wish I could be there to see the look on their faces when we shock the world!