Since their Super Bowl run, the New Orleans Saints have been built around offensive firepower. Every year the offense sits near the top of the league rankings while the defense settles down near the bottom of the NFL. But this year, it looks like the defense could give the team a shot at returning to the game’s biggest stage.
During the 2014 NFL Draft and free agency, the Saints spent the majority of their time and money trying to build a hard-hitting defense. More specifically, the team has poured their resources into revitalizing a once-great secondary with the free agent acquisitions of Jairus Byrd and Champ Bailey, as well as by selecting Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the second round. In the NFL, an offseason where you add a future Hall of Famer, a top safety and a rookie with incredible ball skills is a good offseason.
In addition to the new guys, the Saints are bringing back a ton of talent on the defensive unit. Guys like Keenan Lewis, Curtis Lofton and Kenny Vaccaro will certainly be looking to build on their surprising success from last season. Last year’s squad proved their mettle after bouncing back from an abysmal 2012 campaign. They did lose some talent, but the administration did an excellent job finding adequate replacements.
Perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle is Rob Ryan. In his first year as defensive coordinator, Ryan turned around one of the worst worst defenses in the NFL and did it without the personnel to run his scheme correctly. With a year under his belt and an offseason filled with moves, Ryan is set up to lead his boys to new heights.
The Saints defense will, most likely, not be the best in the NFL. But they will be good enough to shut down the league’s top offenses and to get Drew Brees and company on the field quickly and often.