After getting off to a record-worst start, the Saints defense has slowly begun to turn heads.
"The Saints defense will rebound after having the statistically worst defense in league history," said no one...ever. Well, at least until the last few weeks, that is.
After beginning the season with the statistically worst defense in NFL history, the Saints have slowly but surely gotten their defense to the point where it should be. They are forcing more turnovers, and they are also allowing less offensive yardage. Through the first 10 games of the season, the defense allowed over 4,000 yards of offense, with an average of about 463 yards per game. Since then, they have allowed under 400 in four straight (one of those match ups being under 300), with an average of about 360 per game. That's a whopping 100-yard difference!
The most recent extravagant, defensive effort by the Saints came last Sunday when they hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They forced five turnovers (four interceptions and one fumble), recorded two sacks, and more impressively, held the Bucs to zero points; it was the team's first shut out in 17 years. Yes, you read all of those statistics correctly.
The Saints did allow 386 total yards to the Bucs, but that stat is very misleading. The Saints only allowed 96 offensive yards in the first half. As the Saints already had a 24-0 lead going into the third quarter, virtually 75% of the yards that Tampa Bay gained were in garbage time. That is astounding.
So is this the defense that we should have seen all season? Obviously they are not going to keep putting goose eggs in the opponent box score every week, but you get what I mean. If the Saints can follow up with two similar, defensive performances, then we will know this was not a fluke. I will be quite excited to see this group again in 2013, or possibly the post season if destiny helps Who Dat Nation out again.