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Linebacker No Longer A Weakness?


SaintRay
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Everyone knows New Orleans was weak at LB last year.

Vilma was hurt and never rebounded completely, Shanlee is older and slow with some life left, but he should be replaced. Martez Wilson looked good at times, he's big, fast and can hit, and now he's a 2nd year player. Casillas is fast and has upside, but he's never been dependable over a season.

So this offseason New Oleans went out in Free Agency and targeted the LB position.

Walter Football likes the moves, and I do too. I have to believe the team is better with the new talent, plus the pending emergance of Wilson in his sophomore year in the NFL.

Saints sign ILB David Hawthorne (5 years, $19.5M; $3.8M guaranteed): A+ Grade

This deal is unbelievable for the Saints. David Hawthorne is a really talented linebacker, yet the Saints were able to get him for just $3.8 million guaranteed. Furthermore, this contract is really cap-friendly, so if Hawthorne sucks for some reason, they can dump him after the season without much of a penalty.

Saints sign ILB Curtis Lofton (5 years, $27.5M; $7.8M guaranteed): A Grade

The Saints obtained a big upgrade over Jonathan Vilma in Curtis Lofton - and he didn't cost much either. The $27.5 million figure looks daunting, but he's owed just $700,000 in 2012 and $1.1 million in 2013, though that comes with a $5 million roster bonus. There's not much guaranteed money either. This is a great deal for a New Orleans team that really needed to improve the interior of its defense.

Saints sign OLB Chris Chamberlain (3 years, $4.05M; $1.2M guaranteed): B- Grade

I'm not as crazy about this signing. Chris Chamberlain is a pretty mediocre player. He's decent against the run, but gets completely lost in coverage. He got away with it in the NFC West, but it won't fly in a division with Matt Ryan and Cam Newton. Still, it's not a bad fit, and it didn't cost the Saints much. Chamberlain will be working with Steve Spagnuolo again, and he'll play two downs if he secures a starting spot.

And rounding out the interior of the defense, the saints went after a NT and came away with this guy:

Saints sign DT Brodrick Bunkley (5 years, $25M; $9M guaranteed): B Grade

The timing of this signing is pretty weird, isn't it? I guess Brodrick Bunkley doesn't care about not having a head coach for the first season of his contract.

This seems like a lot of money for a run-stuffing specialist who can't get to the quarterback, but I completely understand the move. The Saints lost their second-round pick because of Bountygate, so they wouldn't be able to fill their dire need for a defensive tackle until Round 3.

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its because Vilma hasnt been the same since 09.

ifyou go back and read most of the saints fans post from these two years, you'd see that

Over on the TSR the fans thought Vilma was fine and great. Until the rumor of Lofton started and Vilma getting suspended. They turned on Vilma with the quickness.

But honestly had Payton been there i think Lofton would probably be better with the Saints than he was with the Falcons. I just feel it. BVG was vanilla and the Saints have some exciting games when the O is hot. I can see Lofton raising his level to match that. I think he will be fine as a Saint and a quality player. But he is not the perfect answer in passing situations. But a good DC may be able to adjust for that.

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Vilma has been declining the last couple seasons. He's getting older and that may be contributing to his nagging injuries, but he was always a little light for an MLB and was struggling to get off blocks.

Considering Lofton an upgrade at this point in their age, careers, and projected position is not necessarily a big knock on Vilma. I'd love to see JV slide to WLB.

As to Lofton's pass coverage, I don't think MLB's are considered big-time pass defenders anyway. If BVG was allowing Lofton to be isolated on dangerous pass receivers then that was a scheme problem.

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Vilma has been declining the last couple seasons. He's getting older and that may be contributing to his nagging injuries, but he was always a little light for an MLB and was struggling to get off blocks.

Considering Lofton an upgrade at this point in their age, careers, and projected position is not necessarily a big knock on Vilma. I'd love to see JV slide to WLB.

As to Lofton's pass coverage, I don't think MLB's are considered big-time pass defenders anyway. If BVG was allowing Lofton to be isolated on dangerous pass receivers then that was a scheme problem.

Yeah, we had some of that. Jeremy Maclin always has a huge game against us because every time we play the Eagles, he somehow ends up 1-on-1 with Lofton, either going down the field or on a crossing route. Part of the reason I'm buying into Nolan is because he seems to be the kind of coordinator that will adjust to that sort of thing if it keeps happening.

Edited by Serge
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Part of the reason I'm buying into Nolan is because he seems to be the kind of coordinator that will adjust to that sort of thing if it keeps happening.

I was ready for a new DC, too. (Actually, didn't know how ready! blink.png )

Watching the same situations break the schemes over and over, as a fan, is frustrating. I'm ready for a more conservative D.

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Yeah, we had some of that. Jeremy Maclin always has a huge game against us because every time we play the Eagles, he somehow ends up 1-on-1 with Lofton, either going down the field or on a crossing route.

I dont think 1 player scared me more than Maclin. He just blew us up to the point of making us look silly. Until D-rob comes around. But still scary as crap with his speed.

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