The three-safety alignment in the New Orleans Saints' defensive playbook originally served as a wrinkle. The team installed its 4-2-5 formation figuring there would be a time and a place to toss the odd twist at an opposing offense. Season-ending injuries to outside linebackers like Victor Butler and Will Smith last offseason pushed the Saints to morph from its planned 3-4 scheme into a less traditional defense. "You start the offseason and put your plan together, but as you start to look closely at it and you start saying, 'Hey, who are the best 11 guys,' you have to have some flexibility," Saints coach Sean Payton said at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., two weeks ago. Week 1 last season saw the Saints employ a 4-2-5 "base" defense. And by the way New Orleans has shaped its personnel this offseason, the three-safety alignments is here to stay. Malcolm Jenkins, Roman Harper and Kenny Vaccaro earned starts as New Orleans opened the 2013 season against Atlanta with three safeties on the field. Jenkins and Vaccaro played every defensive snap against the Falcons, while Harper played 88 percent of the snaps. The game ended on a Vaccaro pass breakup on Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez in the end zone, which turned into a Harper interception to seal the Saints' win. More the same occurred in Week 2 at Tampa Bay. Jenkins and Vaccaro played every defensive snap. Harper and Bush played a combined 56 of 59 defensive snaps. Bush replaced Harper in the lineup against the Buccaneers as a knee injury slowed Harper.
Saints' recent moves signify strong commitment to a three-safety scheme
New Orleans Times-Picayune | Apr 9