clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Saints Must Look to Regain 2009 Defensive Form vs. Cardinals

The 2010 version of the Saints defense has been very different from the Super Bowl defense of last year thus far. The good news is they've given up an average of just 18 points per game so far, down from 21.3 a year ago. That change is timely, too, because the offense has struggled to put up the kind of  bulk points they did a season ago. The bad news is that they've only gotten 7 takeaways through 4 games (1.75 average per game), three of which were fumble recoveries on special teams and not defense. Through 4 games last year, the Saints had 13 takeaways, and they finished the season with 39 (2.44 average per game). So while they may be getting beat by big plays less, they're also making less plays. I also think the lack of offensive productivity is at least in part due to the lack of takeaways. This is something they'll look to change as they go up against the Arizona Cardinals and rookie quarterback Max Hall, who will be getting his very first start.

Saints vs Cardinals coverage

I mentioned this previously, but you know that Gregg Williams is just absolutely salivating at the idea of putting complex blitzing packages at Max Hall, mixed with drop zone coverages disguised as blitzed pre-snap. The key to doing all this fun stuff will be stopping the run. The Saints have got to get the inexperienced Max Hall into 3rd and 8 type clear passing situations. Right now the Cardinals may rank just 18th in total yards rushing in the NFL, but they rank a very scary 3rd in the league in yards per carry. That's right, the Cardinals average running for 5.4 yards per touch so far this season on the ground. It's even more scary when you consider that Hall is starting, because they'll probably be more committed than ever to taking pressure off their passing game. The main guy who's been absolutely tearing it up so far is Tim Hightower, though Beanie Wells is finally back and healthy now, and he's played well in limited action. LaRod Stephens-Howling has gotten some reps, too, and he's got the best average per carry of them all at 5.9 yards per. This will be the chess match where this game all starts. Remi Ayodele and Sedrick Ellis have both gotten tremendous push, and through four games they've dominated the line of scrimmage. This will be an important game to keep that up. Too bad Will Smith will likely be held out, too, because his run support has been outstanding. We'll have to hope that whoever replaces him, be it Jimmy Wilkerson, Anthony Hargrove, Jeff Charleston, can be up for the task. Oh, and that guy that's been completely invisible through 4 games, I think his name is Alex Brown... yeah him... he's going to need to play well too. 

Assuming the Saints can dominate the line of scrimmage, starting with Ellis and Ayodele, this is where things get exciting. Send a corner/safety blitzing, send Jonathan Vilma, whatever. The point is if the run is stopped, then the Saints can take full advantage of a rookie quarterback making his first start. That means sacks, turnovers, and getting closer to the 2009 form that made the Saints' D so exciting to watch. You know they are all licking their chops for this opportunity. Gregg Williams will have them ready. Again, it all starts with slowing down Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower. If they can do that, this is a great chance and opportunity to start getting the takeaways that have been missing.

How many turnovers are you expecting from Max Hall in this game?