WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — It started out as a wrinkle. Now it could become a ditch for offenses to fall victim to.
Last year, due in part to injuries to linebackers Will Smith and Victor Butler, the Saints debuted a defense which employed three safeties. The team used those sets often last season, but it sounds like it could be featured even more prominently this year.
“I think our three safety deal, the game is changing as you know,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “You have to have more guys that can cover, run, do all of these different things, and that’s why I think the game really does evolve. The three safety package comes in a lot more than it has ever in football.”
It will be interesting to see how this comes together this year, and if the commitment to these sets is as strong as some of the offseason moves suggest. It will also be interesting to see how the pieces fit into this puzzle.
Coach Sean Payton said in April that the team has a “clearer” vision for how Kenny Vaccaro will be used this season after moving him about the secondary in 2013.
Does that mean he will spend more time covering the slot after doing so on 163 snaps last season, or does it mean that he will be freed up to roam more?
Some of that will likely depend on how the picture comes together at cornerback, and if a healthy and deeper secondary means Corey White is kicked inside more often.
Whatever the case, Ryan says he intends to use his safeties quite heavily this season.
“We are fortunate enough,” Ryan said. “We have five really talented safeties on the roster. We plan on playing them all because they’re really good players.”