The Saints are bad at defense. The Saints have been bad at defense for many years.
That’s no longer an accident or a coincidence.
Saints coach Sean Payton admitted some draft misses haven’t helped them climb out of their perpetual rebuild on defense, which is part of the reason they’re struggling so much now.
“When you’re not playing well on defense, there’s always going to be a few common themes with regards to getting off the field on third down,” Payton said, via Herbie Teope . “Statistically, a number of those things. But, man, you’re going back a ways here now. If you’re going back to when we first struggled in 2014, it hasn’t been good. . . .
“I would say the other common theme is we have missed on a handful of defensive players in the draft and that process has gotten better.”
Dumping a former first-round pick (linebacker Stephone Anthony) for spare change (a fifth-round pick) was a symptom of a larger disease. Since hitting on 2011 first-rounder Cameron Jordan, they’ve burned high picks on players such as second-round cornerback Stanley Jean Baptiste (2014). Then there’s 2013 first-rounder Kenny Vaccaro, who’s on the trade block and was benched. None of the four defensive players chosen in 2014 are still with the team, and 2015 picks Davis Tull and Damian Swann are already gone.
So it’s hardly a coincidence they’ve struggled. Since their last playoff appearance in 2013, the Saints haven’t finished higher than 27th in the league in total defense or 28th in the league in scoring defense. They’ve also endured the regrettable Rob Ryan era, and aren’t that far removed from setting a league record for yards allowed in a season (7,042 in 2012). But Payton wanted to make sure not to blame coordinator Dennis Allen.
“It’s never going to be the coordinator’s defense himself,” Payton said. “It’s going to be the Saints defense, No. 1.
“No. 2, from a personnel standpoint, how we and what we pay attention to, and first hand making sure that it’s something I’m comfortable with in regards to personnel. And making sure that we’ve asked the right question, so we know the player can learn and we know the player can fit in this role. And I think that process recently has served us very well.”