Steve Spagnuolo’s desire to transform the Saints’ ability to get to the quarterback by relying more heavily on the front four seems to be showing lots of promise. Granted, it’s early, very early. As the preseason ends and the Saints start playing real live games with meaning we’ll get a better feel for how effective the new plan can be. That said, the idea of having Martez Wilson and Junior Galette on the ends, with Will Smith and Cam Jordan moving inside to the tackle positions on pass rushing downs is one that looks like it will be effective.
So far the Saints have done a very effective job getting pressure on the quarterback in preseason, and most encouraging is the fact that it’s been most noticeable early in games with the starting units facing off against each other. 2009 was proof that the Saints are virtually unbeatable if they can get pressure on the quarterback, because the offense is a constant. So far the Saints have 4 sacks in 2 games and numerous pressures which has helped lead to four turnovers. Keep in mind that 3 of the 4 sacks have come from the Galette/Martez Wilson/Will Smith collaborations and those players haven’t even gotten a half in together yet. Getting pressure with your front four is less about any specific scheme and more about the talent you have on the field. Early indications are having Galette/Wilson/Smith/Jordan as your front four on passing downs is enough talent to consistently give quarterbacks problems. The success they’ve had in small fractions of just 2 preseason games may suggest it’s way to early to draw conclusions, but my feeling is it’s amazing what statements have been made in such an incredibly small sample size. If these guys played a whole game with the pass rushing package it’s a given the numbers would be much higher.
Get excited, I really think the defense this year will be much improved. You may think it’s too early to draw that conclusion, but everything falls into place when you started rattling the quarterback without exposing the back end with blitzing. The upgrades at linebacker are already significant and once you throw in an effective four man rush that allows you to take more risks in coverage, you’ll start to see more turnovers. I’ll say this: what Alex Smith did to the Saints in the playoffs by getting rid of the ball quickly won’t be able to happen if the Saints are only rushing four and getting in his face. Now granted a four man rush won’t work on every play, but it will work much better than having a front four of Will Smith, Sedrick Ellis, Shaun Rogers and Cam Jordan on passing downs like last year.