Following a dominant defensive outing in the first half of their preseason victory over the Oakland Raiders, the New Orleans Saints should be excited about what they will be able to do in 2013. Last year’s defense was historically bad, and along with the fallout from the Bounty Gate scandal and Sean Payton‘s year-long suspension, it was a factor that essentially eliminated the Saints from playoff contention.
It should come as no surprise this year that many people, myself included, are watching the New Orleans’ defense under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan very closely. In addition to his football knowledge and fiery attitude, Ryan brought with him a new 3-4 defensive scheme with multiple blitz packages.
The defense was adequate in the first preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and I wouldn’t doubt that many Saints fans began salivating at the mouth when the first half ended and New Orleans had five sacks on the books against the Raiders. By the end of the game, they had a total of seven sacks, along with an interception and a safety. The Saints looked very dominant and very creative in the way they created pressure on the quarterback Matt Flynn.
This is all well and good and Saints fans should be excited, but we must also remember it is still just preseason. The first real test will come next Sunday against the Houston Texans, a growing power in the AFC Southe and a playoff contender last year. How New Orleans plays against Houston next week should be a good way of gauging just where the defense is and what they are and aren’t capable of doing.
The Texans have no shortage of weapons around quarterback Matt Schaub. There’s Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Owen Daniels. All are capable playmakers.
For New Orleans to be taken seriously on defense, they must pass this first test against a stable franchise with capable players on both sides of the ball. Until then, all we can do is wait and speculate.