The Saints' defense is not elite

Gregg Williams has bragged about defenses he's coached, but they're nothing to write home about. Getty Images

A favorite Bill James rant of mine is the one he made regarding the "Toby Harrah for the All-Star team" controversy. Harrah was a solid third baseman who had a good start to the 1982 season (.336 batting average, 17 home runs). This burst out of the gate led some fans and pundits to believe that Harrah was deserving of the All-Star nod over George Brett and his .300 average and 10 home runs.

Brett ending up winning the nomination, but the fact that there was even a controversy over it perturbed James. He wrote in the 1983 Baseball Abstract:

    "Why do we have to put up, every All-Star season, with these asinine editorials about why is this guy on the All-Star team when his numbers are only this -- was there one of you out there who really thought Toby Harrah had become a .336 hitter? And if you didn't think he was a .336 hitter, why did you think that he should have been on the All-Star team?"

That same line of reasoning can be applied to New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. There are those who are touting Williams as an elite playcaller and are using that as evidence to show he is deserving of getting another head-coaching gig.

Last year, New Orleans finished 20th in points allowed, 25th in yards allowed, 21st in yards per play, 23rd in first downs allowed, 26th in passing yards allowed, tied for 24th in rush yards per attempt, and tied for 28th in rushing touchdowns allowed.

While there is little doubt that Williams did a superb job of playcalling on the defensive side of the ball during the Saints' playoff run last year, a closer look at a number of areas shows that, outside of that hot streak, this defense really did not play well last year.