Saints defense closing games well, but still need improvement

Los Angeles Chargers vs New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on Monday,...
Los Angeles Chargers vs New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on Monday, October 12, 2020. Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI/Pool(AJ SISCO | UPI)
Updated: Oct. 26, 2020 at 5:35 PM CDT
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Finding positive things to say about the Saints defense is easier said than done. The coverage busts are still happening too often, and they’re still dead last in red zone touchdowns allowed, with their opponents reaching the end zone on 86 percent of their trips inside the 20.

But at the end of the day, it’s been good enough to win four games, and the last two were decided by defensive plays. Against the Chargers, it was the fourth down stop near midfield. And on Sunday against Carolina, another big stop in the form of a sack to knock the Panthers out of field goal range.

“In this league, you’ve got to find a way to win,” says linebacker Demario Davis. “We want to be a team that plays good complementary football. When you get to the end of games, you have to find a way.”

In a perfect world, this defense takes sequences like those and apply them to other areas of the field at different points in the game. The result could be a unit like the one we saw last year that was a lot better in every way.

“That’s going to help us a lot as far as confidence and motivation and building as we go down the stretch,” says Davis.

Still, since limiting the big plays is obviously a problem that’s not getting fixed overnight, at least the Saints still have the ability to do enough when the game’s on the line. Davis says the way the game’s played now, with frequent penalties for being too physical, it’s harder to be a stingy pass defense. So if you can’t, instead, be a defense that steps up when the game is on the line.

“Plays are going to happen,” says Davis. “But I think, in this league, the best defenses are the ones that find a way to get a stop when it counts most, being effective in situational football, and creating takeaways.”

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