The Saints’ defense ranks third in the league in yards allowed this season, 22 spots ahead of where it ranked during the 2009 Super Bowl campaign. But the Saints aren’t forcing nearly as many turnovers.
“So is the defense better than last year, or is the defense worse?” asked Sharper, who clearly tends toward the turnover side of the debate, considering that his 63 career interceptions are tied for sixth in league history.
The Saints’ defense has taken the ball away just twice in the past five games. And for the season, the Saints are tied for 22nd in the NFL with nine takeaways.
“It lets you know how big turnovers are, ” Sharper said of his team’s disappointing 4-3 start. “We don’t worry about stats. We don’t worry about limiting the number of yards, even though that is something you want to do. Creating turnovers and getting takeaways is what we pride ourselves on doing, and that’s the biggest factor in changing the makeup of a game and whether or not you win or lose.”
Last season the offense and defense played off one another brilliantly. Sometimes the defense set the tone, such as in a Week 4 victory against the New York Jets, when Sharper and defensive tackle Remi Ayodele scored the game’s first two touchdowns to give New Orleans a 17-0 lead.