We weren't supposed to see too much of David in 2008. (Photo Source)
After the Saints 2007 season saw their secondary become the laughing stock of the league, the focus in the off-season leading up to the 2008 campaign was on the Saints pass defense. Lot's of questions surrounded the team's ability to stop the pass. Were they going to be improved and not give up the big play? Would Jason David finally get comfortable in a different system? Is Mike McKenzie's knee healthy? Can Tracy Porter contribute immediately? They would all inevitably get answered as the 2008 season unfolded.
While at times it may have seemed like the Saints secondary showed no improvement from last years squad, the numbers say otherwise. The 2007 Saints defense finished 30th in the league in pass yards per game but last years secondary ranked 23rd in that category. Though it would have been very hard to actually get worse after last seasons effort they did show slight improvement. Better still was their upgrade against big passing plays. The defense was worst in the league in pass yards per play in 2007 but moved up eleven spots to 21st last year.
Also to their credit, they improved amid a long list of season-ending injuries. Mike McKenzie's knee was a question mark as the 2008 season approached but it proved to be just fine. Ironically, he re-injured the knee in the loss against Atlanta, ending his season. Rookie Tracy Porter, who earned a starting spot opposite McKenzie checked out even earlier this season when he dislocated his wrist against the Vikings. Aaron Glenn was also added to the IR list last season. The Saints secondary definitely gets extra points for their resilience.
But don't be fooled by all of this positive talk. The results on the field were still poor. Cornerbacks were still giving unexplainably large cushions on third and short. Safeties were still getting caught underneath. Josh Bullocks was still getting playing time. Add some costly penalties late in a couple of close games and you've got the formula for a crappy pass defense. Though they did have some bright moments this year they were few and far between. It wasn't long before scheme came into question and Gary Gibbs started catching some heat as the cause of the problem. Now after the firing of Gibbs and the hiring of Greg Williams all we are left with are more questions, including the all important one: scheme or talent?
Josh Bullocks stinks worse than a rotting corpse. (Photo Source)
Dr. Michael Baden's Post Mortem Report: These guys did better this year; no doubt. Even with injuries. Unfortunately, that doesn't say much. These guys excelled at nothing, were just bad across the board and it led to an unreliable on-field product. Whether or not the secondaries woes this year were related to poor scheme or lack of talent, the results were still the same. Definitely a leading cause of death for the Saints 2008 season.