METAIRIE, La. -- Former New Orleans Saints cornerback Jabari Greer is still keeping close tabs on the team and has agreed to join me on occasion to share his thoughts.
Stay tuned for his take on the Saints’ recent secondary shakeup and how they’ll match up with the Atlanta Falcons. Here are Greer’s thoughts on the leadership transition the secondary has gone through this season and how it has affected safety Kenny Vaccaro in particular:
“There's a huge transition, because what the men that were removed from that locker room (this past offseason) took was a culture. We had a sense of culture that was instilled during that 2009 championship season that we took long after that season was over. We knew how to hit, we taught everybody else how to tackle, the guys knew how to finish a play, how to intimidate and how to collectively weather the storm on the defensive side of the ball. And when all those guys who have had that culture are now gone, it’s up to the new guys who weren’t a part of that to create a new culture. And I think it’s been a process for them this year. There was a loss of leadership, but I think the biggest loss was the culture of accountability that we had for one another, especially in that secondary.
“We kept each other highly accountable, because I truly believe that Malcolm Jenkins knew what I was going to do, I knew what Roman Harper was going to do, we knew how to communicate with each other. I knew that on the sideline, if we were losing, Roman was going to be the guy that’s going to just calm us down. Malcolm was going to be the guy I really can’t talk to for a couple quarters. We understood that, and that formula worked for us. That formula worked for Kenny last year. That formula worked for Rafael Bush and Patrick Robinson, Corey White. We understood Corey was going to get in there and make a play, but then he was still young and he was going to make mistakes. We understood that, so we compensated and worked around that. Now all those guys right now are trying to find out who those guys are.
“You have to know your guys. You have to know their tendencies. I know that as soon as Patrick Robinson motions across, I have to make sure I get his attention, because he’s going to be locked in on his receiver. He can cover better than anybody in the league, but I know that when he’s coming across that I have to lock in and over-communicate with him. With Corey, I know he’s going to communicate with me. So it’s little things like that that I think as a secondary, they had a lot of questions to answer. Who was going to be that guy to step up and lead their pregame? Who was going to be that guy to help them weather the storm and really take control of the secondary when everything gets down? Who’s going to be that guy to overly communicate when they’re on the field making adjustments? And I think a lot of that, I think they invested that (newly-signed veteran safety) Jairus Byrd was going to be that guy. But once he got injured, all that sense of responsibility and leadership just got heaped on Kenny Vaccaro in a matter of days.
“Every young player that comes into the league goes through a maturity process, and it really helps when you have an older veteran to help you through that transition -- particularly that plays your position. When I was coming into the league, I had Troy Vincent, I had Nate Clements. Kenny has been thrust into this new leadership role, and there has been no type of transition. It just happened abruptly. Let alone, having the position change that Kenny had from a nickel-hybrid type player to a strictly strong safety. But keep in mind, I don’t question his ability at all. But knowing the psychology of the game, I understand that need for that player in there that has weathered the storm.”