Whew, another close one…

The Saints aren’t going to make this easy, huh?  Maybe I shouldn’t have announced my desires for a blowout over the Falcons the other day.  I’d like to think my thoughts aren’t that powerful, but who knows.

I don’t mean to complain, nor am I blaming the team for lack of effort.  I’m sure they care about winning even more than I.  They also can’t help that their secondary is beat up and can’t play.  I know they want it, and I know they will try their hardest to get it.  However, they really have to shore up their primary defense and cut down on the penalties.

Let’s get to my first point.  Although it is easy to say the secondary is the weakness in the defense right now (because it probably is), I’d like to suggest that the problem is deeper than that.  I think defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, knows it too; why else would he run a double corner blitz with a banged up secondary?

It’s because the problem is also pressure from the primary defense.  Or, more specifically, the lack thereof.  The Saints D-line and ends, although solid, aren’t getting enough pressure on their opponents’ quarterbacks.  Jason Campbell and Chris Redman are decent QBs, otherwise, they wouldn’t be playing in the NFL, but they aren’t as good as they looked the last two weeks.  (No offense to Campbell and Redman, both are young and will get better with experience.)  If the defense could get more pressure up the middle and/or on the ends, they would take a lot of pressure off of the corners and safeties. Given time, any decent pro quarterback can be successful.  Compound that with a weakened secondary, and you have the makings of a career night.

The Saints also have to get tougher on the run.  Michael Turner made the D look silly the last time the Falcons played them.  (Thank goodness he wasn’t available this week.)  Jason Snelling was threatening to do it again this week.  He made running up the middle look easy for a while.  Granted, the Saints don’t have Scott Fujita in the lineup and the secondary issues have put more pressure on Jonathan Vilma and Scott Shanle to make plays.  Regardless, someone will need to step up and start plugging the running lanes.

And for my second point, penalties.  I’d be interested in how many personal fouls the Saints have been hit with in the last four games.  Charles Grant got called for one right at the end of the half.  Fifteen free yards that allowed the Falcons to get into field goal range without running a play.  Whether Grant is feeling the pressure to come up with more pressure, I don’t know.  Regardless, giving up fifteen yards with less than two minutes to go in the half is generally not a good thing…especially when the defense isn’t able to stop their opponents from moving the ball.  (I was happy to see Sean Peyton reminding Grant of this point.)

Saints fans are lucky that the current offense can put up points quickly.  These last few games remind me of the old WAC (Western Athletic Conference): a lot of passing and scoring without a lot of defense.  I hope Drew Brees and the boys can keep it up.  The O-line has been pretty good at protecting Brees in the pocket, and Mike Bell, Pierre Thomas, and today, Reggie Bush have helped to take some of the pressure off of Brees and the receiving corps from doing all of the work.

Mike McKenizie and Malcolm Jenkins looked good against the Patriots, so the secondary has the potential to be good.  If the D-line and OLBs can generate more pressure, the Saints D will be fine.  Hopefully, they can do it.  I don’t know how many more close games I can take.

My wife is a Cowboys fan, so I have a lot riding on next week’s game….  Go Saints!