I admire the passion, and sympathize with the concern. This week's mailbag was filled with both, which makes this week a good one to say that The Doctor Is In (always wanted to say that).
Here's the regular Friday edition of the New Orleans Saints Mailbag:
@TylerWigington: Do you expect to see all the young cornerbacks bounce back after a frustrating loss against the Raiders? Does Drew Brees have a chance to break the tie with Peyton Manning for most 400-yard passing games against the Giants?
JD: The answer to the first question is, they'd better. The saying is that cornerbacks have to have a short memory, and the confidence seemed to be in place this week. But let's be real, too – the Giants have a great quarterback (Eli Manning), a star receiver (Odell Beckham Jr.), a returning receiver who was a standout (Victor Cruz) and a highly regarded rookie (Sterling Shepard). It's not an easy bounce-back game, but they have to be up to the challenge in order for the Saints to win. As for Brees posting his 15th 400-yard passing game, it seems that he's capable of almost anything on any given Sunday. Most of his best days have been in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but the Saints might need that kind of game from him against the Giants. Weather may play a factor; if it's yucky outside (the forecast calls for a 100 percent chance of rain), it may prohibit some of the things that can be done in the passing game.
@Cessa_97: How long does it take the Saints' dead money to go away? I saw Jimmy Graham's was gone but Junior Galette's is still there, with others.
JD: If I'm correct (and if I'm not, I'm open to being corrected), the dead money situation drops from $40 million this year, to $7.9 million next year, then comes off the books in 2018. But, obviously, scenarios change and there could be cause for more "dead money" against the cap in the future.
@WhoDatOpinion: Are we at Threat Level Midnight? We have no elite/great cornerbacks and we face three great wide receivers? And beyond this game is our season in jeopardy? Sean Payton said there was no one coming that would make us say, "He's finally here." But do you believe there is someone coming to make us say, "Cool, that helps a little," or should we be in complete panic mode?
JD: First, breathe. Now, breathe again. Now, one more time. Just because the Saints don't have a plethora of "name" defensive backs, doesn't mean that those guys won't (hopefully) improve and get the job done. Remember, Delvin Breaux wasn't "Delvin Breaux" at this time last year. The season isn't in jeopardy – I'd never, ever say something like that after one game – and the fact is, P.J. Williams, De'Vante Harris, Ken Crawley and Sterling Moore (inactive for Week 1) are talented. The first three played pretty well for the balance of three quarters against Oakland, so they'll learn from the good and the bad. Coach Payton is right: No savior is walking through the door to play cornerback for the Saints. The guys who are on the street – well, to be sort of blunt, 31 other teams have taken a pass on them, too, so there must be a decent reason that they're unemployed. The best thing that can happen is for these young guys to get some experience, and learn from it. But judging them off one game is probably a little premature.
@TDelaineDos: Was the C.J. Spiller release just a matter of time, or legitimately a shock around the organization?
JD: Honestly, I was shocked that six running backs made the 53-man roster, totally shocked that Spiller wasn't active for Week 1, but then less shocked that he was released. Once he wasn't active, that suggested that he didn't fit the totality of the plan at running back and that Travaris Cadet, who seemed to be on the bubble during training camp, clearly was seen as a better alternative. We'll see how it works out, but I liked what I saw from Cadet in those final two games last year, especially as a receiver.
@Mosschop49: No. 1 question you'll get – Why cut C.J. Spiller when he is healthy and obviously better than Travaris Cadet?
JD: OK, this is going to sound a little smart-alecky, but it really isn't meant to (and since you know me, hopefully you won't take offense). But, here goes: Who would know better if Spiller was obviously better than Cadet? You, who sees snippets of each during a game? Or the coaching staff, which sees each player every day, almost all day, and watches how each handles his respective assignment as it relates to the offense? Obviously, Spiller has the superior resume. But the resume alone can't be the only factor in determining which player is the best fit. I hope that makes a little sense.
@PastorCBates: Did defensive end Paul Kruger "debo" the jersey number (No. 99) from Shabba Ranks (rookie Sheldon Rankins), or was there an agreement? What number will Rankins wear on return?
JD: First, for the uninformed, if you haven't watched the movies "Friday" or "Next Friday," to "debo" someone means to take someone's stuff (see how I cleaned that up, Pastor?). Now, I don't know if there was a transaction that facilitated the swap, but I do know that Rankins' new number, 98, is the one he wore at Louisville, and that Kruger previously has worn No. 99. Would it have been smart for Rankins to get a little cash for it? Heck yeah. But that probably wasn't a requirement since each received the number he wanted.
@cgcarroll25: With Delvin Breaux out, who handles covering Odell Beckham Jr.?
@TheShof77: Are there any secondary concerns for this week with the injury to Delvin?
JD: First, I'll answer the second question: Uh, yeah. There's never a good time to lose your best cornerback, especially when you believe he's a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback. Second, I'll answer the first: It might not be wise to be caught in too many one-on-one situations with Beckham, but I think P.J. Williams is the best cover corner among the remaining defensive backs. Not that the others aren't capable, but I'd be more inclined to go with Williams as a shadow. But covering any elite receiver is a "team" deal; the better the up-front pressure is, the less time a quarterback has to find receivers. So a good pass rush will help slow down Beckham, and any other receiver.
@TAHunter33: Why don't the Saints blitz more? Quarterbacks have too much time to go through progression reads. This may help with the lack of coverage.
JD: Or, it may expose your cornerbacks even more. It's a Catch-22 when the rush isn't getting home to the quarterback – apply more heat, or drop more people into coverage. The short answer is this: The Saints have to get more production out of their four-man rush. That's no secret. Cam Jordan, Paul Kruger, Nick Fairley and the rest have to apply some pressure because if they don't, and the Saints are forced to blitz heavy, that riddle eventually gets solved with hot reads, screen passes, etc. And if the blitz is picked up, then you see those dreaded chunk plays.
@JARuckstaetter: Why does the defense suck so much, still?
JD: Dude, it's one game. And if you tell me you thought the defense sucked midway through the third quarter against Oakland, or even after three full quarters, I'm going to call B.S. on that one because the Raiders had 10 points midway through the third, and had 13 entering the fourth. It's going to take some time for this thing to be completely right – 22 fourth-quarter points surrendered obviously says that – and, hopefully, not much longer. But I think you saw some elements of a good unit against Oakland for most of the game. Let's not give last year's title to this year's defense just yet. How about giving it a little more than four quarters before we start labeling it, OK?
@5_bluejayh24: When will we see free safety Vonn Bell play in Dennis Allen's three-safety package on defense? Will "Sam" linebacker Stephone Anthony start against the Giants on Sunday?
JD: Bell will play more when D.A. feels he's ready to play more. I know that doesn't sound sexy, but it's true. When he can handle the responsibility mentally, then he'll be in there because he showed he has the physical skills. As for Steph, there's no reason to believe he won't. He started last week in a 3-4 defense, and he's listed as a starter in a 4-3. He's still getting comfortable with the position after playing middle linebacker last season.
@SaintsFans13: Do we see more moves from the Saints, via trades for a defensive back or pass rusher? We must avoid another bad year.
JD: Trades cost, so it depends on what must be yielded in exchange for what is acquired. So it has to make sense. And trust me, your dislike of losing pales in comparison to the players and coaches. Remember, it's their livelihood, their job, their passion.
@neilnripley: When is Mark Ingram going to get more carries, so we can control the clock (12 carries for 58 yards vs. Oakland)?
JD: Ponder this, at least a little: The Saints had a 98-yard touchdown play (Drew Brees' pass to Brandin Cooks) that lasted 11 seconds and a three-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that lasted 143 seconds, in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. If those had been, say, 10-play drives, they possibly could have lasted five or six minutes and, perhaps, Ingram would have carried an additional four to six times. We don't know how the touches might have shaken out if the offense hadn't been quick-strike in those cases. Obviously, the goal is to start fast, build the lead and grind out the clock, but the scores have to be taken when and how they come. Ingram's time will come, but the Raiders game wasn't his time.
@wolfpackthepack: What sort of steps is the defense taking to get better this year?
JD: There was a significant turnover in personnel and upgrade in talent. The first-game numbers don't suggest that, but it's true. And the garbled communication lines, which were problematic last year, hopefully have been cleared. Now, it's a matter of tackling better, having proper angles, the right leverage, and applying pressure to the quarterback.
@PaulRoss58: What happened to leave defensive lineman Bobby Richardson completely out in the cold this year? He was one of our best defensive linemen in 2015.
JD: The short of it is, the linemen that were kept and leapfrogged Richardson on the depth chart are seen as better players. That doesn't mean he's not a good player, only that they're viewed as better fits for this team.
@DaveShults: Is the plan for this game to focus on rushing Eli Manning, or to focus on shutting down Odell Beckham Jr. and the receiving crew?
JD: Probably, most defensive gameplans against a good passing game is to get to the quarterback, early and often. The more Manning is harassed, the less effective his receivers will be. If he has time to locate his third or fourth option, there aren't a lot of defenders who can cover a receiver for that long. But if he's on the run, or being pressured enough to hurry his decision-making, then life becomes a little easier.