2016 New Orleans Saints Mid-Season Grades – Defense

4 of 5

Sep 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman (26) breaks a tackle attempt by New Orleans Saints free safety Jairus Byrd (31) during the third quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports


The Saints have played most of their first eight games without THREE of their top cornerbacks. In the pass-happy NFL, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that means trouble. Trouble being that New Orleans is yielding over 300 yards per game by opposing quarterbacks, currently dead last in the league.

Luckily, free agent signees Sterling Moore and BW Webb have surprised at times. Both have done adequate jobs, but are simply not top end cornerbacks.

Rookie free agent Ken Crawley does show good ability, but has been absolutely under siege by opposing offenses, and has even seemed to have regressed in recent weeks.

Cornerback Delvin Breaux’s return to the lineup following a broken leg provides a giant boost to the entire defense. Breaux is capable of of taking on the opponents best receiver one on one, which allows the rest of the defense to play more aggressively.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro is one of the better mid-range safeties in the league, and can be a play-maker at times. It’s good to see him taking a more vocal leadership role in the secondary.

Rookie second rounder Vonn Bell has taken over the starting free safety role. He is having the growing pains expected from a rookie, to be sure; but does seem to be more active each week.

This undermanned secondary could have been better protected by a stronger pass rush up front, of course, but could also have benefited from even a tiny contribution from the player signed to provide specifically that 3 years ago.

Jairus Byrd is easily the Worst free agent signing in Saints history. Covered in pieces done by the Big Easy Believer earlier this season, Byrd is quite simply a weapon for the other team’s offense whenever he is on the field. Which, unfortunately for the Saints, is entirely too often.

If there were such a thing as an “incomplete”, this unit might get it due to injury. The simple fact is that whatever players are ON the field need to produce —- and these guys have not.

Grade:  F