What made me think of the Jairus Byrd expectations was the 2009 Saints’ team. When Sharper came in, the expectations from him were similar to what I feel like the expectations of Champ Bailey are right now; An old vet signing to make a slight impact while also teaching the young guys (the last part didn’t really pan out with Malcolm Jenkins, though). I haven’t spoken with anyone that expected Sharper to do as much as he did in that single year, making the Saints defense so opportune. So my thoughts are the expectations for Sharper were almost minimal.
With the signing of Byrd, I imagine there are going to be mixed expectations. The reason I say this is because it’s his first year in Rob Ryan’s defense, but also he’s so young and one of the most talented safeties in the league. For me and perhaps the majority of Saints fans, I expect great things from him. For others, however, they might expect a little less due to the first reason I named, but hope for the best.
I realize that I may be putting on a little more pressure than this signing is actually worth (Super Bowl-caliber move here), but just look who I’m talking about right now. In Jairus Byrd’s short NFL career, he has had 22 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, 356 tackles, and 2 defensive touchdowns. Those numbers, to me at least, are astronomical. Compared to who most people consider the best safety in the league, Earl Thomas’ 15 picks and 5 fumbles, that tells me that Byrd is a better turnover-causing safety. Earl Thomas has almost as many tackles and possibly more pass deflections (can’t find Byrd’s number). So while Thomas might be a better “defender”, Byrd generates more turnovers and that has proven to be effective for New Orleans, going back to 2009 again. In Rob Ryan’s defense, he is aggressive enough in how he uses players to where I feel like he can make Byrd into more of a Thomas like player while also putting him in situations to where he can continue to be the player he was in Buffalo.
Many people believe, NFL and ESPN analysts included, think that New Orleans’ safety tandem is the best tandem that’s east of Seattle and for good reason. Vaccaro, coming off an ACL injury, is a star in the making and with the addition of Byrd and the rise of Rafael Bush, (while it’s not a meteoric rise, but he’s still improving quickly) I feel like this group has the potential to be very special.
I know the season is still 90-100 days away, but I’m always interested to know what you guys think of what I write and especially now, I would love to know what your expectations are of Byrd coming into the 2014 season.