A missed tackle, especially in a preseason game, can seem like a harmless thing.
A miss here, or a whiff there during a four-quarter game that won’t count in the standings can be expected.
But at the same time, they can add up rather quickly.
If you don’t believe that, you weren’t watching Friday night’s exhibition game between the New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars closely enough.
Or perhaps you were stuck in traffic on the way to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and missed the first quarter and early stages of the second period.
If that’s the case, all you missed was the first-team defense missing eight tackles in the first four series of a 27-24 loss to the Jaguars.
Cornerback Patrick Robinson, a dependable tackler in his first two seasons, had four missed tackles that resulted in 20 additional yards for the Jaguars.
To be fair, Robinson was playing in a game for the first time since last January after missing the first two preseason contests with a shoulder injury. It was easy to tell he was a little rusty, especially when you consider that he practiced in full gear in training camp just twice before being hurt.
Cornerback Marquis Johnson’s missed tackle resulted in Jacksonville’s first touchdown on its opening drive. He had good coverage on Jaguars wideout Justin Blackmon’s 14-yard catch, but didn’t wrap up after failing to break up a pass from Blaine Gabbert.
It was uncharacteristic of the Saints, who tackled well in camp and in their first two games.
After the starters left for the night, the second-team defense fared a bit better with only two missed tackles — and both of them came on one play.
Still, it added up to 56 yards after missed tackles for the Jaguars. That was more than one-fourth of the 209 total yards they piled up in the first half.
Preseason or not, the subpar tackling didn’t sit well with Saints interim coach Joe Vitt, who wasn’t about to sweep it under the rug.
“Tackling is one of the staples of playing good defense,” he said.
The good news is that Vitt, who coaches linebackers, was disappointed — not alarmed — by what he saw.
It’s one of the by-products of new player safety rules that made live tackling all but extinct in training camp.
Which is why the Saints will get extra work in that aspect of the game when they return to work Monday.
“We have a lot of coaching to do and things to clean up,” Vitt said. “I’m ready to get it done this week.”
When the second-team defense came in, they did a little better, although safety Jonathon Amaya and cornerback Elbert Mack each missed Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings on a play that should have resulted in a 2-yard loss.
“We knew without the coaches telling us that it is something that we need to work on,” said linebacker Scott Shanle. “The good news is we have a couple of weeks here to get ready. We will definitely be working on it.”
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