Whether 'tis easier to score thirty plus points, or actually play pass defense. That really is the question. Do the Saints have enough depth at the secondary position to stop their 2013 opponents? Follow me into the ranks of their secondary and let's figure this out.
Most of you who know me here, despite my recent explanatory hiatus, know that I've picked up the pigskin a few times in my day. When it comes to the defensive backfield, let's just say I have a little experience here so I think we'll be able to lick this question pretty soundly.
Lets start with who is currently available. Cornerbacks for the Saints include: Jabari Greer, Patrick Robinson, Johnny Patrick, Elbert Mack, and about four or five other guys that you probably wouldn't know if I told you their names. With those guys - sorry fellas your not irrelevant - we just wont know what they have to offer until after camp begins. Safeties for the Saints include: Malcolm Jenkins, Roman Harper, Jonathon Amaya, Isa Abdul-Quddus and, once again, a few other players that have to make it through camp.
So here they are, Saints fans, staring you right in the face. Right now you are either scared as hell and hoping Drew gets his arse back in time for camp, or thinking things aren't actually that bad. Where am I on this ominous pendulum you might ask? For me it's vanilla: HELP! Sorry did that come off as bad as it read? Let me clear that up then. Folks, we have a problem and I don't see a solution just yet.
Let me start with our cornerbacks. I actually like the look of our top three guys here. Jabari has proven himself and 5 interceptions and 43 pass breakups in three years isn't bad. I would like to see more turnovers from him, but he doesn't give up that many big plays. I'm okay with that. Patrick Robinson, with 4 interceptions and 17 pass breakups in 2 years, I like the production. He is definitely going to do fine filling the No. 2 CB spot. Johnny Patrick has no interceptions or pass breakups in his short stint with the Saints. Believe it or not, though, he has not had the chance yet to make plays. I think he will be a contributor once given the opportunity. Elbert Mack, 5 interceptions and 11 pass breakups in his career. Not sold on this pick up yet. I need to see what kind of buzz he produces in camp.
As far as I am concerned, this is it. The Saints have 3.5 cornerbacks (Elbert being the half). If one goes down, I don't know what the answer is today. That may change after we get into camp and see some of these guys the Saints picked up. But today....Houston, we have a problem.
Since we've got the edges covered, let us move to the interior of the secondary. At safety the Saints will start with Roman Harper. in his six years he has amassed 4 interceptions, 40 pass breakups, 17 sacks, and, yes, two fan-deflating, finger pointing tight end TDs in the playoffs. By the way in Dave's Thursday edition of "Caption This," clearly Vitt was telling Roman, "You know you got beat twice by tight ends, right?" And Malcolm is just sitting there looking like Kevin Durant in that Sprint commercial, "Man that's messed up!"
Now back to Harper. I know you think I'm crazy, but I actually like him as a player. I hear you grumbling, but the reality is he is a good player. Does he get beat in pass coverage sometimes? Yes. But, he also brings a lot to the table. He is lethal in the blitzing schemes, he is a sure tackler, and he creates turnovers (14 forced fumbles). When I see him in man-to-man, do I scoot closer to the edge of my seat? Emphatically, YES. But I know what I'm getting and I am sure he is working on his cover skills. I hope.
Next up is Malcolm Jenkins, with 3 interceptions and 25 pass breakupups. Decent numbers for three seasons considering he got switched to a different position after his rookie year. I honestly like him better at cornerback, but after losing Sharper the Saints had to move him to safety. If the Saints could find someone to replace him there, I think he is much better suited out on the island, shutting down wide receivers.
Jonathan Amaya has 0 interceptions, 0 pass breakups. Uh-oh, I hear the the "Price Is Right" horn. I've seen him play but I don't know what we have here yet. The jury is out. I hope they return to tell us he is a certified baller, but today he is just #40. Isa Abdul-Quddus: 0 interceptions, 1 pass breakup. My thoughts? Please go four sentences back and repeat. See #40.
So if we were playing spades here, I'd classify our situation as four books and a possible. Looks like the Saints are going board heading into camp folks. I live by the saying, "Defense wins championships and offense is for the fans." Well I hope the front office gets their act together and locks Drew Brees down, because unless the front seven can improve drastically on last year, there is going to be a lot of offense needed for the fans.