The best move any member of the Saints defense has made all season happened yesterday, when coordinator Steve Spagnuolo showed good anticipation and burst when he started diving on grenades.
He normally talks on Fridays, but moved his availability up four days to take the brunt of the criticism away from his players who have given up the most yards (922) and second-most points (75) in the league.
“I don’t think we’re that far off,” Spagnuolo said, via Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “If you get stuck on stats, you’re going to say I’m full of baloney. But I believe it.”
The stats would suggest he’s full of something stronger than Oscar Mayer.
They’ve given up seven touchdown drives of 57 yards or longer. They’ve created one turnover, that an awkward fourth-down pitch by Cam Newton Sunday which was more of a screw-up by the Panthers quarterback than anything they did.
They’ve looked lost against Robert Griffin III and Newton, and maybe they’re taking longer than expected to adjust to Spagnuolo’s scheme.
But the problem looks a lot simpler than that.
They don’t have many better-than-average players.
When Spagnuolo became successful in New York, he had a room full of pass-rushers. The Saints lack those, and don’t have impact players on the back side either.
“Our defense is going to get good,” interim head coach Aaron Kromer said, perhaps after tailgating with Brian Stropolo. “They are going to continue to improve. They are going to continue to have more knowledge of what they are doing and play fast and faster and faster. We are in an upwards slope [right now].”
When you start at rock bottom, it’s the only direction you can go.