Metairie, La. -- The talk this past off-season was about how bad the Saints defense had been the past few years. Through training camp, the players were adamant that they were a much improved unit, but still people remained skeptical. In the pre-season there were glimpses of how good they could be, but starting the season with 2 losses didn't help their case. Now heading into week 11, and past the midway point of the season, everyone outside of the locker room is finally believing the hype-- they are much improved.
The Saints have rattled-off 7-straight wins largely in part because of how well the defense has performed. Not only have they kept their opponents out of the endzone until the 4th quarter of their past 3 games, but most recently against the Bills, they held Buffalo to less than 200 total yards of offense. Through 9 games, the Saints are tied for 8th in the league with 10 interceptions, tied for 10th in the league with 25 sacks, and are tied for 5th in scoring defense (18.3 ppg)-- a drastic improvement from being ranked 31st in scoring defense (28.4 ppg) a year ago.
When asked about the timeline for improving his defensive unit since the last time they played the Redskins in 2015, Head Coach Sean Payton said there wasn't an exact timeline-- he just knew it needed to happen soon.
"I don't know if there was a 'by here we should be..'" Payton said. "Obviously we knew we had to improve if we were going to be successful. So there wasn't a time or due date. It was urgent. We have to get better. And even into the start of this season it wasn't good enough. The confidence comes a little bit from doing it. I thought Carolina was a big game, then going on the road to London for a week as a team and then playing well over there. Then you start believing and gaining some confidence."