It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that having more points than your opponent is most important. Furthermore, the last quarter of the game is oftentimes the ultimate decider. Closing out your opponents late is a crucial element for any contending team.
The New Orleans Saints are a very good team. Greatness starts by not just working on your strengths. The weaknesses are secretly stalling the progress. The Saints’ defense has been the weak link in the chain for a long time.
The case can be made that Drew Brees may have a few Super Bowl rings if the defensive side of the ball could’ve just been average. Imagine having that stingy defense under Jim Mora from the late 80s and early 90s. Surely, this is just fantasy talk but just imagine it.
In 2013, there was a a small flash of light and the Saints won a road game against the Philadelphia Eagles. That was a first for the Saints. The only problem was 2014. The “Swiss cheese” defense was back again with plenty of holes. Moreover, the next three years brought plenty of underachieving.
Those 7-9 seasons were flat out exhausting.
No More Pushovers
But those days are over hopefully. Time is going to answer that. The defensive overhaul really kicked into gear in 2017 after an 0-2 start. However, there is still ONE huge problem that still plagues the Saints. It’s one of those things that could haunt them going forward.
Here are some stats to chew on:
In 2017, the Saints were 27th in defense for fourth-quarter points given up at 7.8 points per game.
The Saints finished LAST in the final three games in fourth quarter points given up at 14.7 points each game. (Including the two playoff games)
Home ranking: 29th
Away Ranking: 27th
in 2016, the Saints were ranked 23rd in points given up in the fourth quarter at 7.2 points a game.
So what does all this mean? Basically, the Saints cannot seem to close out games. Or something is lacking down the stretch. Of course, some of the points may not have mattered, but there has been a pattern.
For the defense, this has to be a mantra in 2018. FINISH! Play all four quarters. To further illustrate this point, take a look at the total amount of points given up per quarter.
First Quarter- 80 points
Second Quarter- 86 points
Third Quarter- 46 points
Fourth Quarter- 114 points
The Saints gave up a total of 326 points over the entire 2017 season. Nearly 35 percent of those points came in the fourth quarter. It’s way too many. This one stat may ultimately decide whether or not the Saints win those tight games late.
With the NFC South being so competitive, those points given up late in the game has to improve. Also, the Saints scored a lot of points in the last quarter too. They put up 125 points in the fourth quarter alone to counteract the defensive woes late. Regardless, if the Black and Gold can’t improve on this one stat, look for a mediocre season.
The schedule is too brutal to withstand these fourth-quarter breakdowns. Next week another blueprint will be revealed. It’s back to the offensive side of the ball.
View the original article on Last Word On Pro Football: Five Blueprints to the Super Bowl for the 2018 New Orleans Saints, Part Two: Fourth Quarter Defense