COMMENTARY | Few words describe how abysmal the New Orleans Saints defense looked in 2012. The unit ranked last in every key statistical category, earning the distinction as one of the NFL's worst defenses in history.
One of the defense's biggest deficiencies in 2012 was their inability to pressure the quarterback. The team made efforts to address these issues through the draft and free agency, but never had success finding a franchise defensive stud.
If given the chance to resurrect a former Saints star to upgrade the defense, it would be Rickey Jackson. Jackson was a cornerstone of one of the league's most vicious defenses known as the "dome patrol." He had incredible physical talent and was a ferocious pass rusher, amassing 128 career sacks (according to espn.com). His 8 career interceptions are a testament to his superb pass coverage skills.
Jackson would bring toughness and swagger to a squad in need of it. His versatility gives Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan the flexibility to utilize him as an outside or middle linebacker.
Ryan enjoys attacking quarterbacks with pressure. With the current stable of linebackers (Jonathan Vilma, Curtis Lofton and free agent acquisition Victor Butler) and the addition of Jackson, Ryan could get creative in his design of exotic blitz schemes. Blitzing plays to the strength of the defense and allows them to force turnovers. The unit might not mimic past great defenses, but Jackson would make them formidable.
It's a stretch to suggest that Jackson alone would catapult this defense from worst to first in a season, but could he get them to a top 15 defense? Probably. Considering the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV with the 20th ranked defense, a top 15 rating is a good look.
Daniel Miller is a freelance sportswriter for Patch.com. He has also worked as a freelance sportswriter for the Dallas Morning News, a sports editor for Sirius XM Radio, and a sports production assistant for KXAS-TV NBC-5 in Dallas.
You can follow Daniel on Twitter @dm26nola
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