|The Saints front four need pass-rush specialist Junior Galette to start picking up his game. (US Presswire)|
The New Orleans Saints still have zero wins after an excruciating 28-27 loss at Green Bay, and the team could point to a certain zero on the stat sheet as the primary reason for their latest defeat -- no sacks.
The Packers' beleaguered offensive line kept the Saints off QB Aaron Rodgers all day, allowing him to complete 31 of 41 passes for 319 yards and four TDs. This, after Green Bay had allowed a league-high 16 sacks through the first three games, including eight in the first half against Seattle six days earlier.
“We need to have a better pass rush, period,” interim coach Aaron Kromer said. “We've had four-man rushes and tried to cover, and then we've had blitzes that have not gotten to them. We've tried both avenues. We obviously have to feel better about the plan as a player, and then execute it better.”
Nothing is working.
Adjusting to new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's scheme, New Orleans has six sacks after four games. Only three teams -- the New York Jets, Oakland and Jacksonville -- are averaging fewer.
The Saints pass rush problems are not new. New Orleans was in the bottom half of the league in sacks in 2011 under blitz-happy coordinator Gregg Williams. Safety Roman Harper registered a team-high 7.5 sacks while the front four rarely applied consistent pressure. It is the same story this year, minus the blitzes.
So far this season Spagnuolo shied away from all-out blitzing, and he definitely didn't attempt to send a bunch of defenders after Rodgers.
“It's a risky business to do that too many times against him,” Spagnuolo said. “You can give up too many big plays. What we certainly didn't want to do was give up a 60-yard score and an 80-yard score, and we didn't give up those.”
Instead, Spagnuolo rushed three players on some downs and used extra defensive ends as pass rushers on others, all to no avail as the Saints fell to 0-4 a year after going 13-3 in 2011.
“We're mixing it, trying all different ways to do it,” Spagnuolo said. “And yet, somehow, someway we've got to find a way to affect the quarterback a little more.”
Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on twitter @CBSSaints.