Archive for the ‘New Orleans Saints’ Category

byrd2

Below the scorching sun and gray clouds, Jairus Byrd stood at his own five and studied the Dolphins’ players at their respective positions. The quarterback was in shotgun five yards from the left hash where the ball was placed. To his right was a running back offset, and on the outsides, two receivers inhabited the short side of the field while another stood staggered at the 20-yard line on the long side of the field. Early indications suggested a passing play.

Standing as the single-high safety in between the white painted hashes of the dark green striped field, Byrd would soon be in the middle of the play. He was the free safety, making it his job to read the passer and find the ball. It seems simple enough, but many safeties can’t do it like Byrd can. He’s different.

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graham2

As you may have heard, Jimmy Graham is a former college basketball player. In-booth commentators and outside media make sure you are aware of this each time you sit down to watch the New Orleans Saints tight end play. It’s a fun thing to bring up  because he played basketball at the University of Miami for three years before finishing his senior year playing football. But what the media doesn’t know is that reminding the audience of his basketball-playing days repeatedly is offensive to Graham — very offensive.

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graham patriots2

At this time last year, fans were calling for Josh Boyer’s head. The Patriots’ cornerbacks were playing poorly, struggling with technique and positioning. They were playing with too much panic and too little patience, he said when asked about it. He assured fans things would improve as they got more experience.

“Again, being younger, a lot of the experience those guys get, it helps them,” the cornerbacks coach said. “They understand things a little bit better, they see the game a little bit better, they understand the film study a little bit better. Those things will help them improve as we move forward.”

A year later, they’ve gained more experience and more patience, enough to stop the once unstoppable Jimmy Graham.

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Cameron Jordan2

Cameron Jordan is home again. Not in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he was born in the summer of 1989, but in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he’s playing extensively in a 3-4 defense like he did in college and 2011.

“The 3-4 is what I ran in college and it’s something similar to (what) we ran with coach Gregg Williams. Hopefully it won’t be that hard to transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4. It sounds like what I have been doing,” Jordan said following the hiring of new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

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Brees-and-payton2

The Saints’ offense is generous, giving many footballs to many hands. But owning the two top players will require paying a significant price.

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Free agency is a time of rash decisions and bad players getting bad contracts, but every now and then, there are deals made that actually make sense for both the player and the team. Case and point: outside linebacker Victor Butler signing a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints in late March.

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keenan-lewis2

Keenan Lewis is the first step among many during an offseason of improvement for the Saints’ defense.

The Saints were both atrocious while attempting to defend the pass during the 2012 season, and consistently atrocious.

Only the Buccaneers were worse, and narrowly, with New Orleans allowing 292.6 passing yards per game, to Tampa’s 297.4. The Saints also gave up 66 receptions of 20 yards or more, which was one every 9.3 attempts. Then there’s the 93.8 passer rating they allowed to opposing quarterbacks.

So it’s easy to see where the focus will generally lie for the Saints starting on April 25, but zeroing in on a more specific target becomes a little more difficult. Keenan Lewis, the former Steeler, was signed as a much needed upgrade at cornerback, and his acquisition could quickly turn the Saints’ first-round direction to the other part of defending the pass that’s a pretty big deal: pressuring the quarterback. The Saints had a very moderate 30 sacks (25th), and now they need to assess their personnel during the switch to Rob Ryan’s 3-4.

Every draft pick made by every team is crucial, with the bust minefield hopefully avoided. But that’s especially true with the Saints’ second-round pick gone due to the BountyGate punishment, and their seventh rounder gone to Seattle following the trade to acquire Barrett Ruud. Barring another trade to bring in a little more ammunition, the Saints are reduced to five picks in this year’s draft.

So how will their defensive questions be answered? Well, for that we turn to Andrew Juge from Saints Nation, who answered my defensive questions.

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