I have read on this blog that the 2012 defense sucked because there was not the ONE guy to gameplan for (paraphrased from an NFL player). The one threat that you have to account for. The one you always have to watch as an offense to know where they are and what they will do before the snap. Recognize his style and look at his tells. Play poker and call his bluff. Now… the Saints do have pretty much the same personnel. Did one player improve?
I say nobody improved. No team has to gameplan for any one player on the defense, still. They just have to gameplan for everyone of them!
How did this happen? Well… there is one guy though. But he does not play defense. He IS the defense. And you know who he is. Rob Ryan.
Well I myself love to theory&$%# as I call it. See what is possible and think outside of the box. For instance; I have written a post about using a setup with 3 RBs which can turn out into any kind of play, just because of the versatility of the Saints players. That is something that is very common in Saints players all across the board. They excel in having players that are good at a mix of things. Payton likes to do this as well. Rob Ryan is a theory#$%&er as well. The only difference is; the defense was a losing team. So why NOT change a losing team. Ryan got carte blanche in filling in the defense and he is looking at the talent and player's strengths. Those with the most talent will have the luxury to play the way they want to.
So where was the talent? Jenkins, Vaccaro (who was drafted because of his versatility) and also Harper (who I think has a bit less talent). The ceiling for the first 2 guys is very high IF you play them according to their strengths at the right position. This position is about everywhere you will need them. So basically this has happened; you have 2 guys on the field most of the time that can either drop in coverage very well and play CB, safety or nickel or even rush the passer, which is Harper's speciality and Jenkins has been awesome at it too this year. Playing Ryan's preferred 3-3-5 system he has essentially 2 of these guys "free" in the game. It is not so much what ONE player is going to do, but what are BOTH of them are going to do.