Saints: the trouble with tackling
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.
Last year the Saints missed 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. If they were to continue at this pace, the Saints will have 176 missed tackles by season end. Compare that to the 128 missed tackles for their 2012 unit—widely considered to be one of the worst defenses in NFL history— and you’ve got reason for concern.
Strangely enough, two of the biggest culprits are starting safeties Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro. Byrd has long been one of the league’s most consistent tacklers, recording only eight missed tackles over the previous two seasons. Byrd will now finish his 2014 season on injured reserve and seven missed tackles. Vaccaro currently has nine missed tackles, but is coming off a stellar rookie season where he missed only three tackles and was one of the top safeties in Tackling Efficiency.
While it won’t solve all the team’s problems, shoring up tackling woes appears to be a critical first step to turning things around for the New Orleans defense.