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Saints insist stats belie defensive improvement

Associated Press Modified: September 26, 2012 at 8:31 pm •  Published: September 26, 2012

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Cam Jordan refuses to let the New Orleans Saints' dreadful defensive statistical rankings get him down.

He sees no evidence that his defensive teammates are discouraged, either.

"That hasn't happened yet," said Jordan, a second-year defensive end. "It definitely has not happened. If anything, everyone's re-energized and the effort is on bettering themselves as players and bettering the unit. Luckily we've got a whole bunch of veterans on the squad who aren't nervous, who aren't antsy, if you will. I'm definitely not and I'm not even a veteran."

Having played only three games under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, it is likely too early to judge how New Orleans' adjustment to their new scheme will pan out long-term.

They are not off to a good start, though, allowing an NFL-worst 477 yards per game. They are tied for 30th out of 32 teams in points allowed at 34 per game. The rushing statistics are perhaps the most troubling, although some would argue they are a bit skewed because the first two teams New Orleans faced — Washington and Carolina — have quarterbacks that run.

New Orleans is giving up an average of 215 yards rushing, which not only ranks last, but is 60 yards per game worse that the 31st-ranked Cincinnati in that category.

"The defense is still new to us. It think that's just what it is," Jordan said. "There has to be a little but more jelling every practice, every game, and luckily this is a 16-game season and we've still got time."

Not much time though. The Saints are 0-3 and will play this Sunday at Green Bay, where they'll try to stop one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers.

For Rodgers, the concern is that the Saints' defense will start clicking against him, particularly after the Packers' offense struggled at Seattle on Monday night, when Green Bay gave up eight sacks and got in the end zone only once.

"They have a lot of talented players. They have a new scheme, so every week they're going to be a little more comfortable," Rodgers said. "I am sure their defense is still trying to figure out exactly what combination coverages they like and personnel and scheme. We are still early in the season. We have to go into this game expecting them to play really well."

Spagnuolo was hired last January because he has a record of success as a defensive coordinator, winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in the 2007-08 season over a New England team that boasted one of the best offenses in NFL history.

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