This season will kick off with a brand new look on defense for the New Orleans Saints. With suspensions being inevitable for MLB Jonathan Vilma, SS Roman Harper and DE Will Smith, a couple players stick out to me that need to step up in order to run a successful defense. Curtis Lofton will need to take a leadership role right from the get-go of training camp and OTA’s. One of the biggest leaders in Vilma will be gone for at least four games: Vilma expects a two to six game suspension, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him feel the wrath of Roger Goodell as Sean Payton has. Lofton needs to show that he can take control and run this defense as Vilma has done in the past seasons to get the players fully behind him.
Another player that needs to step up, for the suspension of Will Smith, is Junior Galette. He shows great potential and has a tremendous work ethic. He has been ranting on Twitter about how he is stepping up his game this year. I asked him via Twitter about the hype he is bringing and he told me “Not one thing in my life I said I would do n didn’t do it #FACT.” If he can cash the checks he’s making, then he will be a tremendous back-up, if not future starter. He is one player that I am looking forward to seeing because I always seemed to catch a glimpse of him near the opposing quarterback. If he can step up and hit the quarterback, the Saints will be in good shape for the return of Smith.
One last player that I believe needs to step up is Johnny Patrick. With Tracy Porter signing with the Broncos, and Leigh Torrence with the Redskins, Patrick shoots up the cornerback depth chart. Last year he played a filler role in the defense, but I predict that he won’t this year. It seems as if he will play a role much similar to the one Patrick Robinson did last year. It won’t be as demanding because some other corners will also get a chance at this role, but he will definitely be playing more this year than last. I feel as though Johnny Patrick will be able to step up his game and be a crucial part of the cornerbacking corps.
Even if the players I mentioned step up as they should, it is all up to Spags to flip the attitude of this defense. Can he change the minds of a “dirty defense?” The Saints really need to focus on getting a couple defensive players to accommodate Spags’ coaching style. He plays more coverage than blitzing, as oppose to Gregg William’s defense that was blitz happy. I believe that he will help the Saints keep points off the board on defense, but with lack of depth, I don’t see it being a huge amount. I do see big improvements in stopping the run. Spags always seems to have his D-line in check, and getting to the passer and the runner. Without blitzing as much, more players will be deeper to stop long runs that have been a lingering problem for the Saints for a long time.