When you think about how the New Orleans Saints have managed to start the 2013 NFL season at 5-0, you most likely attribute it to their offense. You wouldn’t be wrong, either. Drew Brees has, once again, been one of the best quarterbacks in the league and tight end Jimmy Graham has been like Godzilla in Tokyo to NFL defenses.
However, with Rob Ryan in this season as the Saints’ new defensive coordinator, their defense has been much improved this season and has allowed their offense to pull away in games as opposed to getting into shootouts, Coming into the team’s week six matchup against Tom Brady and the 4-1 New England Patriots, the Saints’ defense could very well be the deciding factor in the game.
The more susceptible part of this Saints defense is when they are defending against the run. They haven’t been terrible this season, but they haven’t been great either. Luckily for them, they will be facing a Patriots running game that has had some success, but has been wildly inconsistent this season and has yet to firmly be established.
Where the Saints defensive unit has had its most success this year, though, is against the pass, which is why their defense has the chance to swing this matchup. The Pats haven’t favored the pass to the degree that they have in recent years, but there’s no doubt that they want to put the ball and game in Brady’s hands. However, with Ron Gronkowski now looking like he’s not going to play in this game and a receiving core that has been less-than-reliable, the Saints could have the advantage in shutting down Brady.
Obviously the Saints want to score points because that’s how this team is designed. However, their defense, particularly against the pass, will be a vital part of any success they have this week. If Ryan can get his defense to pressure Brady and have a solid showing from his secondary, the Saints should be able to shut down Brady and move to 6-0.