All throughout training camp, preseason and into the regular season, the New Orleans Saints‘ defense was one of the biggest questions, not just for Saints fans, but also for the entire NFL. By now, almost every football fan should be well aware of just how bad New Orleans’ defense was last season, as they gave up a record breaking 7,042 yards on defense. Certainly they would not repeat the mistakes of last year, and the return of head coach Sean Payton and the hiring of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan should have been enough to return to just adequate.
In an almost surprising shock, however, the Saints’ defense has been playing very well through their first three games. The young group of defenders has recorded a total of eight sacks, which isn’t overly impressive, but they have been highly disruptive. Last week against the Arizona Cardinals, quarterback Carson Palmer was pressured all day long, forcing numerous incompletions and limiting the Cardinals to just 161 yards passing.
The good news for the Saints and their fans is that their next opponent, the Miami Dolphins, were tied at No. 4 in sacks allowed after Week 3 was said and done. I will be looking for Cameron Jordan, Junior Galette and others to have increased their sack totals by the time this game is over. Jordan seems to be flourishing in Ryan’s system, where he has been moved around the line according to each down and distance. Perhaps rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro can record his second NFL interception against Ryan Tannehill, who has started his sophomore season fairly well.
All in all, if New Orleans comes away from this game with another mark in the win column and their defense plays adequately, expect more silence from any former naysayers, as the Saints and their defense show they’re not pretending.