Last year's Saints defense was much stronger at defending the pass than they were the run. At season's end, they ranked 1st in the passing touchdowns allowed category, but 18th in the rushing touchdowns allowed. Despite an 18th ranked pass rush and the league's fewest interceptions, the Saints held teams under 200 yards a game through the air.
2011 has been a different story as the Saints have allowed 282 yards a game and rank as the league's 27th best pass defense. Conversely, their defense ranks 9th at stopping opposing rushers.
Have the Saints pulled a flip flop in which their rush defense is now the strength of their defense? Not so fast. In their first three games of the season, the Saints have played Aaron Rodgers' Packers, Jay Cutler's Bears and Matt Schaub's Texans. Three teams that have established themselves as passing teams that rely on the big arms of their quarterbacks to put points on the board.In the Saints week one matchup against the Packers, Rodgers threw 35 passes, accumulating 295 yards and three touchdowns. The Packers ran the ball 27 times for 103 yards and a touchdown.
In week two, Cutler threw the ball 45 times for 186 yards and a touchdown. The Bears ran the ball just 12 times for 60 yards.
In their most recent game against the Texans, Schaub threw the ball 39 times for 364 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Houston ran the ball 25 times for 109 yards.
Through three games the Saints have seen the ball ran at them a total of 64 times, a total that ranks as the league's 5th fewest. The 119 pass attempts against their defense is the 6th most passes any particular defense in the league has seen.
So are the Saints as bad against the pass as their 27th ranking would indicate? Probably not. Are they as good against the run as their 9th rankings would indicate. Also probably not.