Jabari Greer's career with the New Orleans Saints was cut short last year by a major knee injury. He's still keeping close tabs on the team, and he has agreed to join me on occasion to share his thoughts on the Saints -- unless, of course, the right opportunity lures the veteran cornerback back onto the football field.
I broke down Greer's first installment into two parts this week. First, his thoughts on the New Orleans secondary:
On what he saw this summer from Champ Bailey, who was released Saturday: "He was really, really impressive on the play where Pierre Warren got the deep interception in the end zone in the last preseason game. The receiver ran something we call a post-corner-post -- they sell you on the post, then they run a double route to the corner. As a corner, you think that is the last route he's going to run, that's the one he's going to commit to. Then they run a third route, which is a post, and that's supposed to basically discombobulate you as a corner and open up those lanes. I saw Champ stay on the up-field and outside shoulder, not letting any of those moves that the receiver did deter him from staying in his technique. So I saw a guy that still had tremendous, tremendous technique. As a 16th-year player it's easy to rely on just your mental ability, knowing that you understand the game. But he consistently got up there and pressed the receiver, challenged the receiver and relied on his physical ability. That goes to show that he still has confidence, that he can play at a high level. I just believe that just the lack of reps and the emergence of Brian Dixon playing at a tremendous level led to a business decision."
On the choice of Patrick Robinson as the No. 2 cornerback: "He is probably one of the best athletes on the team. As far as his footwork, just as far as his potential -- he can be in the talk as one of the best cornerbacks in the league once he completes his game. But the mental aspect of overcoming adversity, trusting yourself and believing that you have everything it takes to be a dominant corner is the only question with Patrick Robinson. If he can play with the confidence of a Darrelle Revis, if he can play with the confidence of a Patrick Peterson, he can dominate. The Saints can have a tremendous duo with Keenan Lewis and Patrick Robinson. I knew he was going to win that battle, based on his health coming back from that [knee] injury."
On whether Robinson had a rough game in the preseason finale when the Ravens picked on him with short and mid-range passes, or whether he was allowing a cushion by design: "I've talked to P-Rob concerning this. As a corner, you have to play confident. And you have to play to your strengths. I believe that last preseason game, given what they've shown on film, Patrick Robinson understood they were a team that did a lot of double moves. So I believe he erred on the side of caution. As a corner, sometimes you have to understand that they are a team who likes to go for the deep ball. If he would've been extremely aggressive and broke up those five curls but given up two deep balls, we would be talking about how Patrick Robinson has lost a step, you know. I know that he was playing on the side of caution, given that it was the last preseason game. I know that going on Week 1, we will see a different Patrick Robinson, a more confident player."
On the Saints' secondary as a whole: "The secondary has tremendous talent. As talented as they've been in a very long time. But talent doesn't necessarily equal success. Communication and leadership and understanding each other's roles, working together with each other's strengths and safeties covering up the corners' weaknesses, that equals success. And that is yet to be determined. ... We didn't get to see Jairus Byrd in a lot of collective action that much with Kenny Vaccaro. But I think what we did see is tremendous closing speed. He understands the defense, communication. And we saw veteran leadership. Letting Champ Bailey go, they must think highly of Jairus Byrd's and Kenny Vaccaro's leadership. Because given the departure of the veteran leaders in the secondary, that was the big question coming into the season. So I'm interested in seeing who's taking that leadership position, how they're going to rally the troops and really how they're gonna communicate effectively."
On whether Lewis could fill that leadership role: "Keenan is in that conversation. Usually if it's a wash between the corners and the safeties as far as experience, the safeties -- being the quarterback of the defense -- are the de facto choice for leadership, because they are the ones that have to understand where the corners are going to be. And usually being a corner, you can be in your own world. You can honestly just concern yourself with what you have to do and be effective. So I definitely think that Keenan with his work ethic, with his desire to want to be the best, will lead by example. I know for a fact he'll be a leader. But that team needs that vocal leader. When times get tough, who is that person that is going to reassure you that the game plan is correct, that the work that you put in is gonna be enough to get you through that hump? Guys like myself, Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper, we were those type of guys. So that's the type of leadership that I'm interested in seeing."