The Saints made the ultimate upgrade on the defensive side of the ball when they hired Rob Ryan and brought in first round draft pick Kenny Vaccaro. This season, the safety position was one of the main focuses because of these offseason moves. So, what impacts did it make this season and what do the Saints need to improve for next season? This is what I will discuss in my breakdown of the New Orleans Saints’ safety position.
The three safeties on the Saints roster include: Kenny Vaccaro, veteran Malcolm Jenkins, and Rafael Bush, who has been with team for two years.
Let’s talk about Vaccaro first, since he was paid the most attention this season. He started off the season impressively and lived up to Who Dat’s expectations. Having a phenomenal game in week 3, recording five solo tackles, a 29-yard interception return and a special teams tackle, he got fans excited for what was to come. He registered 92 tackles and 14 special teams tackles his rookie season, which was unfortunately cut short by an ankle injury in the Saints’ second-to-last regular season game. The Saints are lucky this didn’t happen earlier in the season. I am more excited than ever to see what he can do next season, but in the meantime it’s all about his recovery.
He may not be as well known as Vaccaro or Jenkins, but if you pay attention to Rafael Bush’s numbers, you will be able to see how much talent this guy has. Joining the team at the end of the 2012 preseason, he immediately showed his worth, leading the special teams unit with a fumble recovery and 15 stops. Other stats include 13 tackles (nine solo), one interception, one forced fumble and one pass defensed.
In the 2013 season, he was given a bigger chance to shine due to Vaccaro’s injury, and didn’t disappoint. Is it a wise investment to keep him and his he a priority player? His contract is up in March, but sources say that both sides are interested in working something out. I think the Saints need Bush on their roster because of his talent and potential. There is a possibility he will become a starter opposite of Kenny Vaccaro next season.
Lastly, Malcolm Jenkins has been a familiar name on this roster ever since the Super Bowl season in 2009. Now, his contract is in question and the open market plays a big role in this. Could this possibly lead to his departure and if so, would that hurt the Saints? It seems like we have been waiting for Malcolm to reach his potential as a player ever since he joined the team. We’ve seen him make some great plays, but he is never consistent. Should he have gotten cut along with Roman Harper?
If the Saints do not renew his contract, maybe he will find a place with a team that could help him reach his potential. If this is the case, the Saints will need to sign a safety in free agency.
Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense fits this team perfectly and it seems like the Saints organization is focusing this offseason on making moves to complement this. Ryan uses safeties more in the 3-4, especially in blitz schemes. Previous defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense was more about coverage and less about the blitz. This is what hurt the Saints so much in 2012. There were no pressure situations up front and no matter who is on secondary, no corner or safety can cover for more than 7-10 seconds. Kenny Vaccaro fits perfectly with Rob Ryan’s defense. Rafael Bush is on his way to becoming a key figure in it and Malcolm Jenkins time may be over.