Scouting the Saints with Jabari Greer

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 Greer's scouting report on some of the Saints' defensive backs, as well as a look ahead to Monday night's matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. Here are Greer's thoughts on the Saints' struggles up until now:

"If you look at their two losses against the 49ers and Bengals, they were unable to get enough pressure on the quarterback, they had tackling issues. And when there's mistakes in a game, great defensive teams cover up for one another. Great defensive teams usually have a player that is able to fix another player's mistake. And one thing that I see is that the Saints' defense, they're not playing complementary football. When one person makes a mistake, it compounds, and you see explosive plays."

On their third-and-long struggles: "Oh, goodness. ... When an offense converts third-and-2, it's easy for the defensive player to reset his focus, to get realigned and to clearly define who the opponent is: 'OK, let's get back to work.' When an opponent converts a third-and-11-plus, then the linebackers start to blame the secondary, the secondary starts to blame the defensive linemen, and it totally deflates the morale of the entire team. If you look on the sideline, the offense is ready to come on the field, they're getting the game plan together. When the opposing team converts a third-and-11, it deflates your offense, too. It takes the entire energy out of your sideline. So it's more than just a continued drive. That's usually why after a third-and-long conversion, you see an explosive run, because it's so psychologically hard to get back into the mindset of dominance. And the Saints have done that too many times."

On whether he has seen any consistent reason for the problem: "It's been very different each play. When you look at the (73-yard TD by Golden Tate at Detroit), the defensive back (Corey White) was in his position. He could've got a little wider in his drop. But that was a great throw and a great catch that beat the zone. On the fourth-down play (Michael Crabtree's 51-yard catch vs. San Francisco), given what the safety (Kenny Vaccaro) saw, I don't blame him at all, even though the outcome dictates that you get behind the deepest guy. But if you saw what (Vaccaro) saw, they were in Cover 2. There was a guy that was 30 yards deep, but there was also a guy that was 17 yards deep that was right in his zone, so either one of those would've been a converted first down. So basically the 49ers exploited the extended play. ...

"It's different circumstances, but it goes back to my first point. It's not playing complementary football. Because as players, you have to be able to play off each other. It seems as they're still jelling and still learning about each other. And even though as professional players you expect greatness, sometimes when you're establishing an entirely new culture, it takes more than six, seven games." (Note: Greer warned about that exact concern in his preseason scouting breakdown, when expectations for New Orleans' secondary were sky-high).

On expectations for the defense going forward: "If you look at some of those games, the Tampa Bay game when they fought and clawed, and then the Green Bay and Carolina games, you saw what they could do. You saw them establishing an identity, putting pressure on the quarterback, playing tight coverage, communicating. You saw them on their best game. But then taking that success, it was another opportunity to respond. They weren't in a dogfight anymore, they were living on the top, and they had to approach the game as the alpha dog. And it seems as if they didn't respond in the fashion that they should have. Now they're in a fight to become dominant again, so I believe they're going to respond well. But the question is, how will they respond if they get to the top of the NFC South again?"