Saints defense from worst to first? Victor Butler thinks so
Free agent acquisition Victor Butler has yet to play a game for the Saints but feels last year's league worst defensive unit will drastically change under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
"You get a guy like Rob, you get a guy like Keenan Lewis, and you add him to the secondary... you get a guy like me who can come in and help guys pick up this defense, and you're going to see a hell of a defense. That's what I'm expecting. A hell of a defense," Butler said. "We've already got the players to be the number one defense. You get a defensive coordinator in there, a guy who's going to be passionate and convey that passion to the players, I wouldn't be surprised if we were the number one defense in all categories next year."
Wait...did he say first in ALL defensive categories? Was Butler aware that Saints defense gave up an NFL record 7,042 yards last season?!?
"Yeah, they were the worst defense, but you look at the players, we don't have the worst defensive players," the linebacker insisted. "These are guys who are Super Bowl champions, Pro Bowls at one point. These are great teammates. These are great football players."
You have to love the energy and optimism from the 25-year-old linebacker, but is what he saying realistic?
The Saints as a whole suffered a down year in 2012. It all started with suspensions of players, coaches and their general manager stemming from bounty allegations. Steve Spagnulo came in as the new defensive coordinator after the departure of Gregg Williams, and Spag's scheme just didn't seem to fit this group of players. In the first 10 games of the year, the Saints D gave up more then 400 yards in every game - including more then 500 yards on 3 occasions.
Shortly after Sean Payton returned from his one year suspension, Spagnuolo got the boot, and former Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan got the job.
"Rob wants to have the best defense in the league," said Butler, who spent two of his four years in Dallas in Ryan's system. "He's one of those guys who's really passionate and it's rubbing off on the guys. You're seeing a change in the demeanor around the facility, and guys are buying it. You've got guys like Martez Wilson who are grasping the defense and staying afterwards, going over plays, going over formations. You got a lot of guys who are going to have a lot of fun in this defense."
Butler thrived in his backup role with the Cowboys racking up 89 tackles with 11 sacks in 4 season of limited action in Big D and is now hoping to earn more time on the field with the Saints.
"I've done four years in Dallas of fitting in. It's time for me to stand out," Butler said. "I was behind DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Great guys to learn from, but I'd love to take those things that they've taught me and put them to good use. I've got some great teammates; some great, athletic guys and probably some of the best guys I've been around. But here for me, it's just a chance to step out of the shadows and become a productive member of the team. That's all I really want."
We will hopefully get our first glimpse of Victor Butler and the revamped Saints defense next week. The media is scheduled to view part of the organized team activities (OTAs) on Thursday.