This past offseason, The New Orleans Saints wanted to improve the defensive side of a ball, a unit that has struggled the past few seasons. Manti Te’o, who was acquired in free agency by the Saints, had a great game against his former team the Los Angeles Chargers. In the Saints 13-7 win against the Chargers, Te’o shined in the first half, totaling nine tackles (seven solo), a fumble recovery, a sack, and three quarterback hits.
Te’o wasn’t the only Saints defender that shined against the Chargers. Linebacker A.J. Klein, who was a special teams player and backup to Carolina Panthers star linebacker Luke Kuechly, also played pretty good, totaling six tackles (four solo) a half a sack, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit. Even though it’s preseason, it’s still encouraging seeing the Saints defense step up and play with the force like they did against the Chargers.
Even with a mix of starters and backups in the game for the Saints defensively, they held the Chargers to 158 total yards on the night, forced two turnovers, and were able to generate pressure as well, totaling eight sacks. Sunday’s preseason win is also encouraging for the Saints because they won a low scoring, physical game, which is something they will have to do at times to return to the postseason in 2018.
In the preseason, it’s all about finding a groove and setting a tone for the regular season. Even though this win isn’t going to impact the standings, for a Saints defense that’s trying to shed the “laughingstock” label some have given their defense in recent seasons, this win means a lot for their confidence.
If the Saints can bring the effort they displayed on Sunday into the regular season, with a matchup against the Minnesota Vikings to kick off the season in Minneapolis on September 11th, they have a chance to surprise in the tough NFC South.