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New Orleans Saints defensive mission remains the same

With or without Brees, defense wants to rise to occasion

RAMS 27 - SAINTS 9 (L) 1-0

2019 New Orleans Saints
All Images Copyright Michael C. Hebert
RAMS 27 - SAINTS 9 (L) 1-0 2019 New Orleans Saints All Images Copyright Michael C. Hebert

Seattle – Whatever changes may or may not occur offensively for the New Orleans Saints this week due to quarterback Drew Brees being out, it's the same as it ever was for the defense.

Whether or not Brees plays, whether or not the Saints' offense has been on a five-game scoring binge averaging 35 points, or whether or not the defense has been in a groove where it was allowing 12 points per game over a six-game stretch, the defense's viewpoint never wavers.

The game is on its shoulders.

So the message hasn't taken on an air of urgency for Sunday's game against Seattle (2-0) at CenturyLink Field, with Brees set to miss the second game of his Saints career due to injury, and several more after that. Because the message is the same.

"You've just got to do your job," linebacker Demario Davis said. "Every week you step out there, you've got a job to do. Defensively, our job is to stop the run, get off the field on third down, be good in the red zone, create turnovers. And that's the same every week."

"That's always our mentality going into a game," All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan said. "I mean, if we're able to put nine points up on them, we should be able to hold their offense to six. And that's how we felt the entire game (against the Rams). We always feel like when we go into a game, we have to do our part, we have to do whatever we can to get the ball back in the offense's hands."

That didn't happen often enough to the players' liking against the Rams in a 27-9 loss.

The Saints (1-1) allowed six points in the first half, held the Rams to 2 of 7 on third-down attempts and forced a fumble that would have been returned for a touchdown by Jordan, but had been ruled as an incompletion as a live play. The fumble recovery stood.

But in the third quarter, after New Orleans pulled into a 6-6 tie, the Saints allowed catch-and-run completions of 15, 27 and 19 yards on a touchdown drive that gave the Rams a 13-6 lead. And in the fourth quarter, there was a 66-yard catch-and-run to set up the Rams' final touchdown.

"I know what we can do defensively, and we're going to put it on the defense," Jordan said. "We're going to have to make all the tackles, we're going to have to play our coverage right. We have to be tight. We're going to have to be on point and play beyond the way we know we can play.

"Aren't we always striving for perfection? In a game where we've had two or three defensive touchdowns, you're always looking for one more. In a game where you've allowed 300, 400 yards on the field, there's a clear cut of what you need to do. And when there's tight games where it's maybe 9-6 or 10-7 or whatever it is, there's always an opportunity to get better.

"So whatever the case may be, we have to be better today. If we're talking about last game, there's so many tackles that we missed that we have to be better today."

And better on Sunday than they were today, because the test at CenturyLink Stadium will be administered by Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.

Wilson, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, completed 43 of 55 passes, for 495 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions, in Seattle's first two games.

"I know that we have things that want to do to control Russell Wilson – not that you can control him, he's overly elusive in the pocket," Jordan said. "He's got a guy like (receiver) Tyler Lockett who can really create problems in the (defensive) backfield, down the field stretch. They're committed to running the ball, and that's something that we can focus on."

Davis, too, said that Wilson's elusiveness presents a problem.

"He makes a lot of plays in the passing game and with his legs," Davis said. "He has proven time and time again to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Probably one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league, he always knows where to go with the football.

"He does a good job protecting the football and keeping his team on track. You want to get pressure on him, you want to disguise defenses, you want to do a lot of different things to try to make the game hard for him. But it's a challenge. Plus, he's got a lot of weapons around him."

It's a challenge the Saints defense expected, and it'll be approached the same as always.

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