Saints: tackling a key issue for "D"
Through the first quarter of the 2014 regular season, the main concern for the New Orleans Saints has been the subpar play of the defense. Although there is plenty of blame to go around, the unit has been plagued by inconsistent tackling, recording 44 missed tackles in just four games. The 2013 Saints defense emphasized tackling, missing only 77 tackles over the course of the entire regular season—a mark the 2014 defense is on pace to reach after only seven games. At this rate, the 2014 Saints will have missed 176 tackles. By comparison, the 2012 unit—widely considered to be one of the worst defenses in NFL history—missed 128 tackles.
Strangely enough, two of the biggest culprits are starting safeties Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro. Byrd—who has seven missed tackles—has long been one of the league’s most consistent tacklers, recording only eight missed tackles over the previous two seasons. Vaccaro currently has nine missed tackles, but is coming off a stellar rookie season where he missed only three tackles. Vaccaro was also a top S in Tackling Efficiency in 2013, as he only missed one tackle per 26.7 attempts. While it won’t solve all the team’s problems, these players returning to previous form could help improve the defensive performance.