Saints want to limit big plays on defense

May, 24, 2012
5/24/12
4:25
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We mentioned that the Saints will be inserting more zone coverage into their defense when we told you about linebacker Martez Wilson making the move to defensive end.

If Wilson stays at end, he might have to drop into coverage from time to time. But the secondary is going to be impacted much more by any change in coverage schemes.

“It is a little bit of a transition for cornerbacks Patrick (Robinson) and Jabari (Greer) but they really have done a good job so far fitting into that mode,’’ interim coach Joe Vitt said. “There is a little bit more adjustment wise with motion and formation, but that is why we have OTAs.’’

Vitt said there’s been a league-wide trend of offenses getting more big plays, and said those plays are less prevalent against zone defenses.

“Offensively, last year, we had 124 big plays of runs of 10 yards or more or pass plays of 20 yards or more,’’ Vitt said. “Defensively, we gave up more last year than we ever have at 99. The big plays on offense, we would like to keep that number exactly where it is. We have to get that number on defense down to about 75. Just a little bit more zone defense and not selling the farm is going to give you an opportunity to keep those big (plays) off your back.”

Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper also will face adjustments. But Vitt said new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is doing a good job of getting his system installed.

“Spags is a hands-on coach,’’ Vitt said. “He loves to teach. He loves to have the whole defense in there so everybody is on the same page. I would categorize him as a player’s coach. He puts a lot of the decision-making on the player in the course of practice and the course of a game. He doesn’t dwell on mistakes. I think he is going to produce a very positive atmosphere around here for us.”

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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