Saints 0-2. Who’s to Blame?

Saints Quarterback, Drew Brees, looks over play book during the Panthers game last Sunday.
(Photo by Bob Leverone, Associated Press)

The New Orleans Saints, who for the past five years have been an NFL powerhouse, have started the season off 0-2.The question in everyone’s mind is who’s to blame? Most people believe the defense is to blame, but others strongly believe that the absence of head coach Sean Payton has something to do with it.

Sean Payton, who is considered the best play caller in the game, was suspended for the 2012 season due to the bounty charges. Some fans believe that without Sean Payton, the Saints are hopeless. Indeed, there have been signs in the games where you can see the team is suffering without Payton. One problem is that Drew Brees now has more power when it comes to calling the offensive plays. This is obvious, since all the Saints do on offense is throw the ball. The team has spent millions of dollars to get running backs Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram, and they never use them. In the loss against Carolina, Thomas only received nine attempts, and he rushed for 110 yards. Why is he not getting the ball more? It all goes back to Brees calling the plays and wanting to throw the ball. When Payton was calling the plays, he would mix the offense with running and throwing.

New Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo talks with a member of the defense.
(Photo by Michael C. Hebert, Saints)

The other issue is the defense. The team had to hire a new defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, after Greg Williams left for St. Louis. Fans have been disappointed with how the defense is performing over the past two games. There are two main problems with the Saints defense this year. One problem is the defensive line. The pass rush is simply not getting to the quarterback, and the defensive tackles lack the athleticism to keep up with a mobile quarterback like Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton. The other problem is that the linebackers, like Scott Shanle and David Hawthorne, are missing tackles and cannot cover a running back or tight end at all. They also have trouble shedding blocks when the opposing team runs the ball towards them. Do you blame Spagnuolo, or do the Saints simply not have the personnel to pull off Spagnuolo’s defensive scheme?

So, which is the primary culprit…the defense or Payton’s absence? The primary problem with the Saints so far this year is definitely their defense. On third and long plays, they should put Junior Galette and Martez Wilson at the defensive end positions in order to get a better pass rush. We should also work on containing mobile quarterbacks. Although, considering the turmoil the Saints have been through this past off-season, we should probably give the Saints defense a break. Spagnuolo’s defensive strategies usually take a few weeks to kick in. The Saints play the Chiefs, who are also 0-2, this week in a game that will more definitively predict what the Saints are going to be like this year.



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