Might not seem like it at first, but I’m gonna try to tie in the Cooks trade at the end of this.

Image, if you can, yourself in the following scenario: you have 2 vehicles, which we’ll call “car” and “van”.  You drive both vehicles the same number of miles per year.  The van gets 10 miles to the gallon and the car gets 30 miles to the gallon.  You use the van when you need to pack the whole family around, and you use the car for everything else.  The key thing to remember is you have to drive both the same amount of miles (15,000 miles each, for a total of 30,000 miles per year).  After reviewing your expenses for the year at tax time you realize you could save a lot of money by upgrading to more fuel efficient vehicles.

So, you do a little bit of shopping around and discover 2 options within your budget, but you can only do one, not both.  First option is to upgrade the car to a hybrid, which would take the car from 30 mpg to 50 mpg, a 20 mpg improvement.  The van is a different story.  The only upgrade you can find within the budget would only upgrade it from 10 mpg to a measly 12 mpg, only a 2 mpg improvement.  Which upgrade should you make?  the car or the van?  You talk it over with your wife and she gives you “the look”.  (You know the one.)  Clearly, she says, it’s a no-brainer, upgrading the car nets you an additional 20 mpg while upgrading the van would only be 2 mpg more.  Do you agree?

Let’s do the math.  First, the baseline as it stands right now, before any upgrade.  At 10 mpg the van requires 1,500 gallons of fuel to go the 15,000 miles annually.  At 30 mpg the car requires 500 gallons of fuel to go its 15,000 miles annually.  The total required fuel is 1,500 + 500 = 2,000.

Next, let’s consider upgrading the car to the hybrid.  This brings the car from 30 mpg to 50 mpg, meaning now we need only 300 gallons of fuel for it annually, a 500 – 300 = 200 gallon savings.  Not bad.

Now, let’s look at upgrading the van from 10 mpg to 12 mpg.  At 12 mpg the van now requires 1,250 gallons of fuel to go its 15,000 miles, a 1,500 – 1,250 = 250 gallon savings.  Are you surprised by this result?  Going from 10 mpg to 12 mpg saves *more* fuel per year than going from 30 mpg to 50 mpg.

I promised to try to tie this in to the Brandin Cooks trade, and I think some of the more observant readers are already way ahead of me.  Then again, maybe not because maybe I way off base here.  Anyways, the Saints have a (to continue the fuel analogy) high-octane offense and a sputtering defense, at least from a well-documented statistical point of view.  The Saints offense is the fuel-efficient car, while the defense is the gas-guzzling van.  Trading Cooks *will* cost the offense a little bit of their efficiency, but if the Saints can (even just marginally) improve the anemic defense by using that 1st round pick on a defensive player the results could be a significant net improvement for the team overall.

I’m presuming a couple things here.  1) The Saints will use that draft pick on a defensive player, either via trade or drafting one, 2) the player will improve the defense even if maybe he’s not as good a defensive player as Cooks is an offensive player, and 3) defense is just important to team success as offense, which said latter point I believe to be axiomatic.

Saints need to improve the defense, but they need not make a dramatic improvement to have a dramatic impact on overall team success.  Pair this offense with just an average defense, and you instantly have a playoff contender.