Saturday’s Black and Gold scrimmage turned into a “more of the same” kind of day for the New Orleans Saints defense, and that wasn’t a bad thing because that assessment signified another day of positive progress for the unit under first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Unofficially, the unit registered five sacks (defensive tackle
“I thought defensively we made some good plays,” Coach Sean Payton said. “They had some turnovers. There were a few false starts and pre-snap penalties that we’ve got to get cleaned up. This will be good film for our staff to evaluate and for the players to see when they come back in Monday.
“I was pleased (defensively). I was pleased with the turnovers. It was something we’ve been emphasizing and I thought they took advantage of those snaps. I thought we rushed the passer well at times and probably got into some long-yardage situations a little too much for us offensively.”
The defensive performance didn’t totally overshadow the fact that four Saints (receivers Joe Morgan,
Payton said he will address the injuries Monday, after they properly have been assessed.
Offensively, the Saints were fluid on the first possession, with the No. 1 offense against the No. 2 defense.
“That was kind of what was slated – 12 plays and let’s see what can happen,” Brees said. “I thought it was a good mix of run and pass and kind of put us in a couple different types of situations. So it feels like we got a lot of work in that first drive.”
But the defense, which has been notably aggressive during training camp, had its share of “wins” during the work.
“I thought we executed pretty well,” Ryan said. “It was a good first day. The running game, we have to do better in that. That’s always tough the first day you go at it. We’ve got to be better. We have a preseason game coming up (on Aug. 9, vs. the Chiefs in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome) and that’ll be a good gauge, and with (Kansas City running back Jamaal) Charles and their bunch, that’ll be a tough test.
“This is the first scrimmage for everybody, not just on defense. I was just happy to get our guys lined up and playing hard.”
Specifically, the defense also was able to create down-and-distance advantages. Tackles in the backfield and offensive penalties (left tackle
“One of the things we wanted to look at were two or three specific type of runs,” Payton said. “We were able to get about 12 to 15 snaps of some of those slash plays. I thought defensively they did a pretty good job of, if we got into the second and longs or third and longs, chances are there was a minus play or a penalty. There were some good plays on both sides of the ball.”
“He’s powerful,” Payton said of Hicks. “He’s got good size, long arms. He’s continuing to improve and really work on the little things, using his hands better and shedding.
“For him, there’s a lot of snaps that he’s behind compared to a lot of these players who have played a lot more football up to the point they got here. That being said, he’s powerful, he’s very strong. His explosiveness is something you can notice on film.”
“We’re excited about those guys,” Ryan said. “Junior has really come into his own. We’ve got to just calm him down a little. But he’s what you want. I think this guy is going to be excellent.
“He’s just got to - he’s so high-strung and so flamboyant, tough. We’ve just got to monitor him, see how he does in a game. He can’t gas out in the second quarter.”
Ryan, undoubtedly, will continue to monitor for progress from Hicks, Galette and the defense which so far has been solid. And Payton said that, in totality, his team got in the work it sought.
“Overall, I thought the tempo was good against each other,” Payton said. “There’s kind of a fine line – you want to be healthy and yet, you still want to see some full-speed action. I thought they handled that well.”