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Saints changing to new aggressive defensive line strategy

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

After an atrocious defensive season under Rob Ryan for the New Orleans Saints, new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is looking to make some changes to his unit.

Allen is implementing his own aggressive scheme designed to penetrate the backfield as opposed to reading and reacting to each individual play.

"We don’t want to sit back, we don’t want to react to nothing, we want to dictate what’s going to happen," Saints pass rush specialist Brian Young told Joel Erickson of The Advocate. "So it starts with the front, so we’re going to get off and we’re going to get under their pads and we’re going to knock them back 3 yards and let the chips fall where they may."

The Saints were coaching a variation of the "two-gap" system with their defensive line under Ryan, allowing linebackers to make plays unblocked while d-linemen sucked up offensive linemen.

The system is a better fit for the Saints personnel. Second-year linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha was the only player who had any legitimate experience in the typical edge-rusher role, but he was lost for the season with a torn ACL, forcing Allen to get creative.

His new scheme should allow inexperienced rushers Obum Gwachum, Davis Tull, and Kasim Edebali to make an impact alongside the more physical Cam Jordan, John Jenkins, and rookie Sheldon Rankins.

"It used to be that way, with all the two-back runs and those kinds of things, your ends were a lot bigger, but nowadays. ... The game is much more spread out now and a lot faster," Young said. "I don’t care about the weight as much as I care about: Can a guy set an edge, can he knock a block back? I don’t care if he’s 220 (pounds) or 280, if he can do those two things, it doesn’t matter."

The Saints pass rushers don't strike a lot of fear in the minds of most offensive linemen, but after posting the 31st ranked defense in 2015, the fear can only be increased. Allen will need to change the entire mentality if he wants to be successful in 2016 and that's exactly what he plans to do.

"We want to be an attacking and aggressive style of defense," Allen said. "We want to try to dictate the tempo to the offense, as opposed to them being able to dictate the tempo to us. We want to play hard and we want to play fast."

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