The head coach was back to fix the offense, but the Saints change in coordinator and scheme on defense was the difference in their win over the Falcons yesterday.
And the difference was apparent.
“That was not their 2012 defense,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said, via Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
That’s the best news of all for the Saints, since their defense was the worst in league history a year ago, in terms of yards allowed.
So while it wasn’t airtight in the traditional sense, the new coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 did enough on defense to make what Drew Brees and company did with the ball worthwhile.
After letting Atlanta out to a 10-0 lead, the Saints held them to one touchdown over the final three quarters, forcing a pair of turnovers and five punts in eight drives. They sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan three times, as many times as they’ve ever dropped him in a game. They also held one of the league’s best offenses (even if it was with a one-legged Roddy White) to 3-of-11 third downs, made plays in the red zone, including Roman Harper’s game-clinching interception.
That had them feeling good, and feeling like they had changed something.
“The best part about this one wasn’t the play on the field but sharing the victory afterward with your teammates in the locker room,” cornerback Greer said. “There was a lot of bro love, . . .
“We are establishing the 2013 defensive culture.”
They don’t have the kind of personnel to be a good defense, but they can potentially be good enough to not be the reason they lose every week.
That will be a huge difference.