It’s addition by addition, but also addition by
To see previous Parts,
Even after drafting Marshon
Lattimore in the 1st Round of the 2017 NFL Draft,
the starting pair of Cornerbacks for the New Orleans Saints in Week
1 was PJ Williams and De’Vante Harris after the latter shined in
the 2017 preseason.
Lattimore and Ken
Crawley took over as primary Cornerbacks for the Saints
with PJ coming in as the third Cornerback on passing downs. Harris
still saw starter’s snaps when Lattimore went down with injury late
in the season. Delvin
Breaux was never able to return in 2017 due to injury, so
the Saints were forced to rely on Crawley, PJ Williams, Harris, and
a re-signed Sterling
Moore to hold down the fort in the secondary.
Unfortunately, while Lattimore was able to
shadow the opposing team’s #1 WR in the game, even when Lattimore
was healthy, Crawley and PJ Williams were largely ineffective when
called to work in the slot. As Harris continued to falter, he was
cut and then re-signed to the practice squad in December.
This poor work in the slot is what caused the
Saints to immediately address the position in the offseason by
bringing back former Saints CB Patrick
Robinson – the same Patrick Robinson coming off a pick-6
in the NFC
Championship Game for the Philadelphia
Eagles on his way to a Super Bowl
So here’s why they’re
better in 2018:
Patrick Robinson is far from
the P-ROBlem player he was for the Saints during his first stint in
New Orleans. He finished 2017 having played in all 16 games with 4
interceptions and Pro Football Focus named Robinson’s performance
as one of the biggest
surprises of the season:
Few players enjoyed the kind
of surprise season that Patrick
Robinson did, and the impact that it had on the Eagles
may be second to none. Robinson was moved to the slot primarily in
2017 for the first time in his career, and that resulted in by far
his best season. He allowed just 54.5 percent of passes thrown his
way to be caught when guarding the slot, the second-best mark in
the league, narrowly trailing Denver’s Chris Harris
(54.0 percent). On those targets, though, he had three
interceptions compared to none from Harris, yielding a passer rating
more than 40 points better (65.2 versus
With Robinson now ready to
line up in the slot, the second-biggest weakest area of the Saints
cornerback group has been addressed. The biggest weakness of the
Saints at cornerback was the usage of De’Vante Harris. I don’t want
to re-hash the entire “Player in Review” piece I wrote up on Harris
early this offseason, but here is the most important
1, De’Vante Harris played 67.7% of the team’s defensive snaps
against the Minnesota
Vikings. Result of the game? Vikings QB Sam
Bradford has a career night against the Saints
on route to a 29-19 victory for Minnesota.
In Week 2, Harris is still used rotationally, but
now in a lesser role. He still plays in 23.7% of the team’s
defensive snaps. Result of the game? Tom
Brady carves up the Saints secondary to the tune of 447
yards and 3 TDs for a Patriots’
Then Harris was benched in Week
3, playing in only 7 defensive snaps the entire game. Result of the
game? The Saints beat the Carolina
Panthers 34-13. Harris then continued to ride the bench
through the majority of the team’s 8-game winning streak.
Harris did see a little bit of time in the
blowout win against Buffalo in Week 10, but the game was already
decided before Harris saw the field. Injuries came to the Saints
secondary, and Harris was asked to play 52.2% of the team’s
defensive snaps in Week 11 against Washington. Result of the game?
Well, the Saints won, but barely, as Kirk
Cousins went off for 322 yards and 3 TDs.
Harris saw his snaps again increase for Week 12,
back up to 67.5% (around his Week 1 total) against the Los
Angeles Rams. Result of that game? New Orleans lost
26-20. He was cut from the active roster following the
Between Weeks 1-12, the Saints lost only 3 games.
De’Vante Harris played significant and meaningful snaps in all
three games. The Saints won 8 games during that span, and Harris
played meaningful snaps in only one game, the narrowest win of the
So yeah, Harris was not very
good in 2017.
why are the Saints going to be better at Cornerback in 2018?
Because Marshon Lattimore should improve in his second year.
Because Ken Crawley should improve with more snaps. Because Patrick
Robinson has been signed to address slot cornerback. And because
all of the above means De’Vante Harris shouldn’t see significant
time on the Saints starting defense.
Read the Canal Street Chronicles article: www.canalstreetchronicles.com/2018/6/19/17470848/why-the-new-orleans-saints-could-win-it-all-part-viii-cornerbacks-patrick-robinson-devante-harris
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