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Last year the Saints took several hits along the secondary throughout the season. Come 2018, they made strides in shoring up the depth across the secondary drafting two formidable defensive backs that could play multiple positions in Kamrin Moore and Natrell Jamerson. They also promoted practice squad standout, Arthur Mauler to the active roster at roster cuts. Since then, just three weeks into the season, Jamerson, Moore, and Maulet have found their way out the door. The last of which, Maulet, was released just before the week three tilt against the Falcons.
During that game, the Saints decided to bench Ken Crawley in favor of P.J. Williams who goes on to allow 11 catches on 12 targets 136 yards covering three receivers and 3 touchdowns to Calvin Ridley. After that third touchdown at the beginning of the third quarter, Ken Crawley took his job back and P.J. found the bench, if only for a moment. Crawley went on to allow 87 yards on 4 of 4 passing and also committed a 58-yard penalty when in primary coverage against Julio Jones.Thankfully, Marshon Lattimore was able to keep Julio Jones under wraps for the first half and then shut down Calvin Ridley when placed as his shadow far too late in the game.
The insult was added, however, in the third quarter when a needless low block from Jake Matthews broke Patrick Robinson’s ankle in a play that should have been a penally if the NFL only cared about its defensive players half as much as it does the Quarterbacks. But I digress. Now, P-Rob is out, likely for the season, on Injured Reserve. Now, since the Saints seem to finally realize that P.J. isn’t who they thought he was but are now forced to either ride with him or look elsewhere to help this secondary. With the releases of Jamerson, Moore, and Maulet the depth that was once had at the position is no longer at the team’s disposal so, here are some options out there that are either already on the way, or viable candidates to help restore some consistent play in the secondary.
David Amerson – Visiting with Saints
In my eyes, Amerson isn’t a great option. He’s been largely inconsistent throughout his career with Oakland, was signed with Kansas City but saw very little time. He and Dennis Allen didn’t overlap in Oakland so this isn’t a question of familiarity. However, with Breshaud Breeland unfortunately being signed by the Packers, Amerson is likely one of the “best” pure-corner options available at this point.
David Amerson’s last (almost) full year of play was 2016 in which is played15 games.During that season he was targeted 93 times and allowed 60 catches (63.8%) for 809 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also had 3 interceptions that year but allowed a 101.1 QB Rating. In yards allowed he was number 195 of 199 eligible corners.
Josh Robinson – Visiting with Saints
Robinson played his last meaningful defensive snaps with Tampa Bay way back in 2014. Since then, he’s primarily been a special teams player. His blazing speed (4.33s) is about all he’s got going for him from the looks of his past production. In 2014, he allowed 6 touchdowns in primary coverage though he was only targeted 76 times. He did have 3 of his 5 career interceptions that year as well. He’s now a corner turned Safety and in my opinion, if you’re going that route- there’s an obvious candidate out on the market if you can let the politics go.
This seems like a complete no-brainer to me. Eric Reid would be the perfect fit for what the Saints are struggling to build right now. And I know, he’s a Safety, not a corner. But feel free to point out to many a single LSU defensive back that can’t play both. I’ll wait. Also, he’s a stud of a Safety that fits the Dennis Allen system perfectly. He can play in the box, he can be ultra productive in run protection, a great tackler, and can be a box safety that possesses better coverage skills than Vonn Bell. With Patrick Robinson being out for an extended period, it would make sense that the Saints could go back to running Ken Crawley opposite Lattimore and moving Vonn Bell inside to play the slot. but Bell’s coverage skills aren’t going to cut it. Eric Reid, however, can. While Bell has yet to record an interception in his career with the Saints, Reid has compiled 10 while only allowing 13 touchdowns in a porous San Francisco defense. Josh Robinson has been responsible for 16, Amerson 22.
Reid would be a perfect fit for the Saints defense and would keep the front office from having to shuffle every week to find the best solution, moving pieces around and constantly adding pieces while the secondary grows more and more unfamiliar with each other. Reid could be the perfect replacement for P-Rob. The issue remains about what to do with the corner spot opposite Lattimore. Do the Saints keep running Crawley in the hopes he’ll return to 2017 form and confidence? Can Sterling Moore, who’s familiar with the Saints’ system swing the #2 corner spot? Do you keep Vonn Bell as the box safety and try Eric Reid on the outside as a corner? I’m not too sure about that one, but there are certainly a lot of options Barry Hirstius of Saints News Network and Big Easy Magazine wrote a great pieces about Reid’s versatility.
The Saints get a little bit of a bone thrown to them this week with the Giants missing Evan Engram. But even still, someone opposite Lattimore needs to be able to cover Sterling Shepard. I guess it all comes down to what the Saints brass is willing to try. I just really hope we don’t watch them sit on their hands on this one an hope for positive vibes. This team is too talented this year to shoot themselves in the foot.
Follow Ross on Twitter @RossJacksonASC