The Saints' defense was miserable beyond words last year, this is not news to anyone. Some say it was the worst ever, and from a yardage yielding perspective that much cannot be argued. It was certainly the worst in Saints' history and that is really and unbelievable feat when you think about it. So far the only addition the Saints have made is cornerback Keenan Lewis. I think we'd all be foolish to assume that pick up will be enough to vault the Saints out of the 32nd spot overall – though a new coach and scheme change might be. The move to fire Steve Spagnuolo and change the scheme has suggested all along that it's not on the players or talent as much as the coaching and not putting those players in a position to succeed. That I'm not sure I agree with. Why? Because I feel the Saints' best talent on defense is over the hill with the possible exception of Curtis Lofton and a currently incomplete end in Cam Jordan.
So far the Saints have lost way more defenders than they've added.
Gone are Turk McBride, Scott Shanle, Jonathan Casillas, Will Herring, Sedrick Ellis (unless he comes back which I doubt) and Johnny Patrick. Obviously the offseason has just started and we still have the draft, so no need to panic about this by any means, but so far Keenan Lewis is the only addition. Over the course of this offseason I think you can expect numerous new players to come on board, hopefully.
That brings us to two very talented veterans the Saints are looking at currently: cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and linebacker Victor Butler. Asomugha has already visited with the Saints and he's apparently mulling offer what can only be a low ball offer by the Saints. Why do I assume that? Because if it was a deal to his liking he would have already signed it. Butler is visiting with the Saints today and tomorrow after a visit with the Steelers that didn't produce a signed contract. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has coached both players, Butler in Dallas as recently as this past season, and Asomugha a few years ago in Oakland. Mutual interest is high and ultimately whether or not these players join the team will come down to money. It's no secret these players have interest around the league the Saints are competing with for their services, and it's also no secret the Saints don't have tons of cash to throw around irresponsibly given their cap situation.
If the Saints can land both players, though, the talent of the defense starts to look much much better. Consider the fact that the Saints started the 2013 season with Corey White and Patrick Robinson as their starting corners while Jabari Greer was out. If they find a way to get both guys, Patrick Robinson and Corey White would open the season as the #4 and #5 corners assuming everyone is healthy. Quite a difference. On top of that Butler would represent a pass rushing upgrade that would make a huge difference and provide competition for Junior Galette and Martez Wilson, both currently slated to start as the OLBs because there's no one else. I like Galette and Wilson, but they're still both raw, have liabilities in run support and coverage, and they'd both be learning a new position. Butler wouldn't. So that would give the Saints experience, stability, talent, and a lot less question marks at that position.
The Saints may get slightly better with a new coach and a scheme that plays to some of their player's strengths, but I disagree with the notion that this was all on Spags. I think the players aren't good enough collectively. There still needs to be a massive upgrade in talent and an overhaul of sorts. That doesn't mean dumping each veteran on defense, but it does mean bolstering depth to add talent and competition to each position. If the Saints manage to find a way to sign both of these players, it will go a long way in upgrading the defense and getting them closer to a return in the postseason.
Make it happen Mickey (within reason, of course!).