June 27, 2016
If the New Orleans Saints are going to fix a historically bad defense, they will need to stay healthy. That was one of the many reasons the Saints struggled in pass defense last season.
New Orleans saw safety Jairus Byrd, cornerback Damian Swann, cornerback Keenan Lewis, cornerback P.J. Williams and others miss time because of injuries. Add the injuries to lack of a pass rushing, and it is easy to see why the Saints were so dreadful on defense.
How dreadful was the 2015 New Orleans defense?
The unit ranked 31st in pass defense and total defense, and tied for 25th in sacks. New Orleans was also tied for 26th in interceptions with just nine.
No matter what the issues were with the Saints defense, former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan got the ax during the season. New Orleans promoted Dennis Allen as the new defensive coordinator for the final six games.
Allen is now the full-time defensive coordinator, and it will be his job to get this defense off the bottom of the statistical categories. It would be easier for him to do that if his secondary can stay healthy this season.
That already looks like a challenge.
Byrd is going to be limited until training camp as he recovers from a torn meniscus that has plagued him since his first season in New Orleans. Swann is back on the field but suffered three concussions during his rookie season.
Williams is coming back from a hamstring tear that ended his 2015 season. Lewis spent most of last season injured before a sports hernia shut him down completely late in the season.
The injuries to Swann and Williams ended their rookie seasons early.
New Orleans added safeties Erik Harris and Roman Harper, and drafted Von Bell. Those players, along with Kenny Vaccaro and a hopefully healthy Byrd, will make the Saints deep at safety.
Some of that depth was lost when Jamarca Sanford went on the injured reserve. Sanford has been with the Saints since 2014 and recently re-signed with the club.
Cornerback depth took a hit after the Saints put Kyle Wilson on injured reserve due to a torn labrum in his shoulder. New Orleans now has to hope that Lewis, Williams and Swan will stay healthy and that Delvin Breaux will continue his rise as a top cornerback.
New Orleans signed defensive tackle Lawrence Virgil after the injury to Sanford and defensive tackle C.J. Wilson to take over Kyle Wilson’s spot.
The Saints might also be looking for a new training camp spot. New Orleans was set to return to the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia until flooding closed it down.
The PGA has already cancelled the Greenbrier Classic because of the flooding. The Saints are set to start training camp on July 27, and the team is monitoring the situation.
This team can’t afford to have injuries in training camp this offseason or in preseason games in the secondary. The Saints defense won’t improve if the secondary stays injured or lacks depth.