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John DeShazier's bye week edition of the New Orleans Saints Mailbag

Senior writer for answers your questions

The New Orleans Saints are on a bye. Mailbag isn't. So here we go, hope you enjoy and keep the questions coming.

‏@Thad1914: Give me three reasons why Stephone Anthony is not getting playing time! The Saints are bad on defense.

@TrackNationUp: Why isn't Anthony playing? He was a beast rookie year. Terrible coaching move.

JD: I'll give you one reason. And this isn't me bagging on Anthony, because there's a lot to love professionally and personally, but here are the hard numbers: The Saints were 31st in total defense, 31st in run defense, 31st in pass defense and last in scoring defense in 2015. So, why should Anthony – or anyone, for that matter – who was a member of the '15 defense be considered a sacred cow? (Other than defensive end Cam Jordan, who made his second Pro Bowl?) They're 31st in total defense, 28th in pass defense, 25th in run defense and last in scoring defense this year. So, statistically through four games, the defense has been no worse at least, or slightly better at best, with Anthony playing diminished snaps this season. So in the grand scheme, where has been the significant loss due to his role change? But since you asked for more reasons than one, I'll give you a few more: 38 rushing yards allowed on 21 carries for four quarters, and 10 points surrendered in the final two quarters, against San Diego; 64 rushing yards allowed on 32 carries, and three field goals given up, against the Giants; Craig Robertson; Nate Stupar. Again, I'm not here to bag on Anthony, who was a bright spot last year and is extremely talented. But this isn't about likeability, and this isn't a defense that was so outstanding last year that players could be grandfathered into positions. After last season, everything has to be earned by everyone, every week and every day, and rightfully so. Thus, if other players are better suited to the specific defensive packages that the Saints employ against opponents' spread offenses, or their three-receiver sets, or when their third-down back is on the field in a passing situation, then the only concern should be matching up and being effective. As you can see, that has happened some this season. Not as often as the team would like, but so far, at a high enough percentage that it's believable that it could be trending in the right direction

‏@cajunballer10: When are Delvin Breauxand Sheldon Rankinsdue back?

@5_bluejayh24: Do you think we could possibly bring back defensive end Chris McCain? Plus, when will we see Breaux and Rankins back on the field?

JD: Rankins broke his fibula Aug. 15. He was placed on injured reserve Sept. 5, which denoted that he couldn't practice for six weeks and couldn't play for at least eight. When Breaux broke his fibula in the season opener against Oakland, on Sept. 11, the forecast was that he would miss at least six weeks. As for McCain, I'm not inclined to close the door on any player returning, depending on the Saints' injury situation at his position.

‏@trolldrengi: Is there any cause for concern with a possible Drew Breesinjury? His throws haven't been up to par lately.

JD: He hasn't been listed on an injury report this season, is second in the league in passing yards with 1,269 (on pace for 5,076, which would extend to five his NFL record of 5,000-yard seasons) and is third in touchdown passes with 10. Not sure why there would be cause for concern.

‏@ThormarkSharp: Will this win kick start our defense to match our offense? We will be unstoppable if it happens.

JD: That's the hope, of course. But reality is that no assumptions can be made. A team has to demonstrate time and again that it can replicate good plays, series', quarters, halves and games. But, absolutely, the Saints hope that the second half against the Chargers (10 points allowed, three turnovers on San Diego's final three possessions) is the start of something good.

‏@wmconstant: Can you speculate who we could potentially be getting back from injury for Week 6?

JD: I'm no doctor, and I didn't sleep at a Holiday Inn Express, but I'd guess tight end Josh Hilland linebacker Dannell Ellerbewill be back. Too, James Laurinaitismissed the Chargers game with an injury, and he'll probably return. I'm guessing that when Coach Sean Paytonsays a handful of guys could be back after the bye, he also might be including offensive lineman Senio Kelemeteand*left tackleTerron Armstead *in that mix, too. We'll have a much better feel next week, when the team is back on the field and readying for Carolina.

‏@AJTRaaw: Will we win another game?

JD: Yes. (I like layups.)

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