When it comes to Patrick Robinson, the majority of the Who Dat Nation doesn't have too many positive things to say. And how can you blame them for this lack of confidence? He was absolutely OWNED in 2012, right?
Robinson missed out on the opportunity to board the Saints' version of the Ryan Express (big Nolan Ryan fan, so had to make myself clear). Remember last year, around this time, when we were concerned about how our personnel would adapt to the new style of defense? Well, it seemed to work out just fine with what may have been the Saints' best defensive season since the Dome Patrol. At least half of the starters on that horrendous 2012 defense had plenty to do with the turnaround in 2013. Robinson's shot at redeeming himself was cut short with a knee injury in week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In 2013, Rob Ryan's defense brought something to this franchise that none of us could have possibly expected. Let's remember now, we were 31st in points allowed and 32nd in yards allowed in 2012. We knew that this unit had a lot of work to do. But to experience watching this new defensive philosophy produce a defense that was 4th in yards and points allowed just one year later was a significant sign showing us that it may not have just been about the talent on this team. It may have been about being in the right system.
While rookie stand out Kenny Vaccaro was great for the Saints in his rookie season, we need to remember that this Saints defense was top 5 in the NFL even with Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper receiving playing time. Those two guys were absolutely terrible in 2012 as well, but when given the chance to perform in Ryan's system, they were able to be part of a secondary that was 2nd in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Yes. Better than 30 other teams in allowing passing yards. With those two guys out there.
Jenkins and Harper are gone, only to be replaced with a young talent coming off of a solid rookie season (Vaccaro) and arguably one of the best safeties in all of football (Jairus Byrd). Is it possible that Patrick Robinson could actually improve being part of a better defense with a better defensive coordinator?
The big knock on the Saints defense was their lack of turnovers. The Saints were tied for 8th for least interceptions by the defense. Ironically, one third of the team's interceptions were by a guy that a year ago we were wondering about his ability to create trunovers. Keenan Lewis came to the Saints with 1 interception in 17 starts and proceeded to collect 4 INTs with the Saints in 2013.
Meanwhile, Patrick Robinson collected 7 INTs in his last 2 seasons playing for defenses that were way worse statistically than the one he is currently on. His 33 pass deflections in 2011 and 2012 show that he can make plays on the football. That may be why the Saints have decided to give him one more chance.
The best part about Robinson's return is that the expectations are much lower now. Here is a former first round pick at only 26 years old that finally isn't expected to be the starter at cornerback. Hell, he might only be competing for a 4th corner spot. But it is no secret that the Saints need guys who will make plays and create turnovers. And while Robinson has been part of plays that we would much rather forget, he has also been part of plays that have created turnovers, and the Saints really need as much of that on their roster as possible.
This is why I believe that Rob Ryan can turn Patrick Robinson into a good team player. He won't be a guy whose jersey we will rush out and buy, but he could end up being a nice role player in the final year of his contract. You can never underestimate the power of depth at any position, especially corner. For some reason, my trust and faith in Rob Ryan makes me believe that P-Rob could have a role on this team moving forward.
I know this is hard to believe. There are so many reasons to give up on this guy because of what we have seen in the past. But let's face it, Robinson has never been part of a defense that could rush the passer AND hold its own in the secondary. While he may never reach his expectation as a 1st round cornerback, Robinson has a chance to be a key player in being sure that the Saints defense is stronger than ever in 2014. Let's give him one more chance.