Hope Ellerbe is Healthy -- Mike Detillier (1 Viewer)

Dan in Lafayette

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Aug 1, 1997
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Lafayette, LA

Hope Ellerbe is Healthy

By Mike Detillier

Right now the New Orleans Saints are in desperate need of play-makers on defense. Arguably two of their best defensive players in cornerback Delvin Breaux and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins will not be back “active” for the team until mid-season or maybe even a little after that point due to injuries.

One good player for the Saints is outside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. There is no questioning his talents, but right now the speedy outside linebacker just can’t stay healthy and he has not played a snap in the 2016 regular season.

That looks to be different today since the word is that Ellerbe looks like a “go” for the Saints and he is a difference-maker on defense.

Last season Ellerbe played in 6 games and started 4 and he was in on 39 tackles, he had 1 forced fumble and 1 pass deflection, but during training camp Ellerbe got nicked up again and he has seen no action for a defense that really needs his football field presence.

Since the start of the 2014 season Ellerbe has played in just 7 games in 35 possible games in the NFL. The Saints acquired Ellerbe and a third round pick from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for wide receiver Kenny Stills.

Saints coaches have praised the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker, but his absence due to injuries has created a huge hole at outside linebacker for the Saints.

A healthy Ellerbe will not cure all the defensive ills for the Saints, but he is a productive player, super instinctive to the football and the best cover linebacker the team has. If he does play watch what type impact Dannell Ellerbe makes for the Saints defense. Just hope and pray he can stay healthy.

Disturbing Saints stat

Last season the New Orleans Saints defense gave up a league-high 29.8 points per game. In the 3 games played in 2016 the Saints defense has given up an average of 32 points per game.

That is just not acceptable at any level of football and the Saints organization has spent a lot of money in free agency and used a number of high picks via the draft to cure this major ill, but there are still gaping holes on defense due to a lack of talent and serious injuries.

Injuries are not an excuse in the NFL. All teams have them, but that is what you do in the off-season. As an organization you try and project where a host of injuries could chip away at your football team. It’s not a question of if you will have injuries, but when you will have them.

That is where the dead-money issue has hit the Saints.

The Saints were players in free agency last spring and landed linebackers Nate Stupar, Craig Robertson and James Laurinitas, along with defensive tackle Nick Fairley and tight end Coby Fleener. But with $40 million dollars worth of dead money on the books owed to players no longer on the team, the Saints could not bulk up on defensive players or along the offensive line.

There has to be some sense of accountability on the movers and shakers in the Saints organization on why after three years of trying to build a defense you are still in need of a number of quality players on defense.

Davison, best Saints pick of 2015?

The Saints are still in the building stages of trying to piece together a defense, but they might have just found a gem of a player in defensive tackle Tyeler Davison.

Davison was a 5th round pick in the 2015 draft and you can make quite an argument that due to his performance in 2016 he is the best draft choice in the 2015 draft class. Davison did not get to play versus the Atlanta Falcons due to an injury, but his play has caught the eyes of scouts across the NFL scene.

I spoke to an AFC regional scout who had high praise for the hard-charging Fresno State defensive tackle.

“To be honest we almost picked him in the fourth round, but our head coach wanted to go on the offensive side of the ball, “ the AFC scout said. “He is a tough guy inside. Tyeler has a non-stop motor and he is a terrific leverage player. He’s a solid “push” man as a pass rusher. Our West Coast regional scout really pitched hard for him in Round 4 and we had a deal in place right after the Saints picked to trade up to get him. Davison will probably never be a Pro-Bowl player, but he has a chance to be a very productive NFL player for quite some time. Once Tyeler gets totally healthy and the Saints get (Sheldon) Rankins back from his leg injury you have a good defensive tackle tandem here in New Orleans.

The problem I see is the Saints don’t have a top pass rusher to play opposite Cam Jordan, the Saints linebacking unit is average and Stephone Anthony has been a major disappointment. The Saints will also need to go out and acquire a starting cornerback to play opposite Delvin Breaux.

Jairus Byrd is just a shell of himself. I just don’t get it. He was a dominating player in Buffalo and the Saints haven’t seen a glimpse of that player. He’s a liability in coverage and he seems to be evasive to contact in run support. He looked to be on the verge of a NFL Hall of Fame career in Buffalo and he has done nothing in New Orleans.”

Defense Matters

There is an old saying that offense sells tickets, but good defenses win championships.

Just take a look at the quarterbacks for the 5 unbeaten teams in the NFL today.

  • Joe Flacco - Baltimore Ravens
  • Carson Wentz - Philadelphia Eagles
  • Trevor Siemian - Denver Broncos
  • Sam Bradford - Minnesota Vikings
  • Jimmy Garappolo/Jacoby Brissett - New England Patriots
All five of those quarterbacks have played well, but take a look at the amount of points given up by the defenses of those five teams.

  • Baltimore Ravens- 44 points
  • Philadelphia Eagles- 27 points
  • Denver Broncos- 57 points (The Broncos have given up the most by the undefeated five and just 19 points given up per game).
  • Minnesota Vikings- 40 points
  • New England Patriots- 45 points
The other four undefeated teams are giving up 15 points or less in games played in 2016.

Defense, Defense, Defense...

The Amsterdam Connection

In a six degrees of separation moment in 1998 the Amsterdam Admirals of the old NFL-Europe League had 3 quarterbacks on the roster. The three quarterbacks were Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme and current San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy.

The twist to the story is that the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator of the Admirals was Mathews, Louisiana resident and veteran assistant coach Joe Clark.

“To be honest I really thought the NFL had him in training to be a coach one day when he was assigned to Amsterdam,” Clark said. “He was a real sharp guy, but he was a back-up at Utah for the most part. I was trying to figure out a way to get Kurt (Warner) and Jake (Delhomme) in the game and get them quality reps. Poor Mike (McCoy) he would just watch, but he was very observant and a real student of the game. Kurt was built like a lumberjack and he was a fireball passer and Jake was the touch passer and a guy that his teammates would break down a wall for. Mike (McCoy) has a fertile offensive mind and he has a real gem at quarterback in Philip Rivers in San Diego. That was some moment in time for me in Amsterdam to be around those three guys. So proud of what they all have accomplished afterwards.”

Louisiana Boys Love the Dome

In his very first carry as an NFL running back former Peabody Magnet High School star halfback Jalen Richard ran 75 yards for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the 2016 season-opener. Richard, who was a standout running back, pass catcher and return man for the University of Southern Mississippi, grew up a huge Saints fan in Alexandria, but had never been to a New Orleans Saints game in his life until he put on the uniform for the Oakland Raiders.

The undrafted free agent is second on the Raiders roster in rushing with 129 yards on 15 carries, he averages 8.6 yards per run and he scored 1 touchdown. He has also caught 4 passes for 34 yards, he has returned 5 punts and he is averaging 8.8 yards per return and he returned one kickoff for 24 yards.

Monday night former Jesuit High School in New Orleans and former LSU Tiger linebacker Deion “Debo” Jones picked off a Drew Brees tipped pass and raced 90 yards for a touchdown in his first appearance in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome playing for the Atlanta Falcons.

Jones, who was a one-year starter for the Tigers, has emerged a top defensive player on the Falcons defense and he was voted the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for September.

In 2016 Jones has recorded 20 solo tackles, 5 assisted tackles and one pass interception.

Maybe the Black and Gold should pay a little more attention to the immense talent in the state of Louisiana. Seven times in the past nine years Louisiana has finished 1st per capita in producing players to the NFL. In 2016 they finished second per capita to Alabama in producing NFL talent.

Quote of the Week

Jeffrey Bohne, was a football player at John Curtis High School, who decided to walk-on to the Nicholls State football team in 1994. His position coach that year for the Colonels is current LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron.

“I did two tours of duty in Iraq and spent 20 years in the military,” Bohne said. “I would go fight ISIS with no helmet or body armor today for Coach O. That’s how much I think of him.”

Quote of the Week Part II

Back in the mid to late 1980’s Ed Orgeron was just starting out his coaching career at the University of Arkansas under then-Razorbacks head coach Lou Holtz helping coach the defensive linemen and linebackers. On that team in 1986 and 1987 was a linebacker and special teams standout in Stephen Jones.

Jones, the son of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, is currently the executive Vice-President and Director of Player Personnel for the Cowboys, but he remembers “Coach O” quite well from his Arkansas days.

“My goodness that was a long time ago, but Ed (Orgeron) was just starting out as a graduate assistant and he helped issue out punishment for guys that broke some rules,” Jones said. “A few of us gave Coach O the nickname “Hip-Sled Ed”. He would have the guys that broke a rule or two push him around the practice field while he stood on top of the sled. He was a tough guy, very passionate about the game, he knew football and he demanded and got the most out of you as a player. He was a character too.”

Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeDetillier

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