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Saints Mailbag Answers: Why do the Saints Always Suck at Defense?

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Below are answers to reader questions submitted Sunday. Special thanks to all those that participated. Feel free to continue the discussion on any of these topics in the comment section below.

Please name the position on the Saints that needs to show the most improvement in 2016 and provide reasoning for your response. Thank you, - Stuart J

My answer isn't a position in particular, it's actually an area of play that I think needs most improvement and I also think most Saints fans would agree with me: pass rush. That pass rush may come from a defensive end, a defensive tackle, a linebacker, or even a defensive back. Whatever. I don't care how the Saints get it done, but they need to pressure the quarterback better and more often. Let's face it, they're obviously not going to sign some big name free agent defensive end or linebacker or defensive tackle who will automatically turn things around so it's going to have to come through the draft. Based on their actions so far in free agency, I think they definitely plan to address the pass rush in the draft.

Could we have an "around the division" section here? - Matt C.

That's certainly a good idea and something we've done lightly in the past. I don't have the time myself to undertake that task with regularity but if one of our other wonderful contributors wanted to take on the challenge in earnest that would be a more than welcome addition.

In your opinion what has been the bigger factor for the Saints defensive woes? The talent or the coaching on the defensive side of the ball? Jenkins, Porter, Abdul-Qaadus, PRob, and Hicks all seem to have upped their status as players on other teams. So if the coaching staff is to blame, how do you feel about the current defensive staff, specifically Dennis Allen? - Ryan E.

The real answer to your question is both. The Saints certainly haven't had an abundance of talent on the defensive side of the ball. They've had a lot of free agency and draft misses. And that speaks to a poor job scouting and evaluating, which I believe is also a big reason for their defensive suckage. But the bigger factor, in my opinion, is definitely the coaching staff. I think the apparent nepotism within the coaching staff has held this team back for years. It's frustrating really. The linebackers have under performed since the Sean Payton era began yet Joe Vitt has always had a job. The Saints have never had a formidable pass rush yet Bill Johnson is back for his eighth season. They have never had a consistent kicker and special teams has long been lacking yet Greg McMahon has been here with Payton since the beginning. They've all stuck around through multiple regime changes at defensive coordinator, which certainly has to be unusual. Without that special relationship with Payton, I think these three would have been let go long ago. But as long as Payton is here, these guys will be coaching. And as long as these guys are coaching, this defense will be mediocre at best. Having to make chicken salad out of the coaches Payton saddles any defensive coordinator with, Dennis Allen included, is an automatic handicap from the start.

Why didn't they sign Casey Heyward with the last $5 million you mentioned in the other post from today? - H.D.

There was a lot of interest in Heyward from other teams like the 49ers and the Chiefs, which is how he was able to land such a nice contract. My guess is that the Saints weren't willing to get into a bidding war and/or pay that kind of money for a cornerback. I also don't think the Saints have cornerback as one of their top free agency needs over tight end and pass rush.