NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Sunday’s defensive performance was proof that the New Orleans Saints are keeping their focus on their own improvement, but they’ve also heard the outside noise about their shortcomings earlier on the schedule, and CJ Gardner-Johnson, for one, is ready to set the record straight.
“We feel like it’s a slap in the face and disrespect how people think we’re just gone after a couple of games,” says Gardner-Johnson. “We’re just getting better. We’re just getting started.”
It certainly appears that way with back to back standout performances. Last week’s game against Tampa was more about winning individual match-ups against the Bucs' abundance of play-makers. But facing the 49ers, even with all of their injuries, the focus had to be on seeing through the smoke and mirrors of a Kyle Shanahan offensive scheme.
“You have to be really sound to understand the shifts,” says linebacker Demario Davis. “They’re going to give you a shift. Then they’re going to give you a motion. Then they’re going to give you a turbo motion. Then after the play, they’re going to swap a guy back. You have to have really good eye discipline.”
The result of that discipline and proper preparation was a dominant performance. They held San Francisco to a season-low 49 yards rushing, often not even allowing them to cross the line of scrimmage. The Saints swarmed with six tackles for loss on run plays, another on a pass, and two sacks.
“Trey (Hendrickson) is on the right side,” says defensive end Cam Jordan. “I’m on the left side. David (Onyemata) is putting pressure up the middle. You got double D (Demario Davis), and now you add in Kwon (Alexander). Guys are coming downhill at a fast pace.”
And one of the most impactful series of all, once again, came on a goal line stand, keeping the 49ers from taking what could have been a difficult to overcome 14-point lead.
“At some point and time during the season, we’re going to need those plays to show up,” says safety Malcolm Jenkins. “Every time we get down there and we make those plays, we get more and more confident. I think Dennis Allen’s done a great job of fine-tuning the plan so we can go down there and play fast.”
The Saints went to say that as well as they’ve played the last two weeks, there is still plenty of room to get better on that side of the ball, but it’s always easier to make those corrections after a win.
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