To see how the Saints 2015 might be like the Superbowl winning season of 2009, we have to look back a bit. Let’s go back to 2008. It was a forgettable season as the black and gold went 8-8, finished at the bottom of the NFC South, and missed the playoffs (this after having gone 7-9 in 2007). Our offense, of course, was ranked 1st in the league and our defense 26th. Out go Offensive Coordinator, Doug Marrone and Defensive Coordinator, Gary Gibbs and enter Pete Carmichael and Gregg Williams. Fan favorite, Deuce McCallister became a victim of the salary cap. And having traded the year before with the Jets for Jonathan Vilma and the Giants for Jeremy Shockey, the Saints only had 2 picks in the first five rounds to try to fill the voids. With a new OC and DC coming in, their leading rusher now gone, and a shaky defense (to say the least), no one knew what to expect from the Saints. There were doubters galore. But we here in Saints Nation believed.
Enter preseason 2009. The Saints went 2-2, winning both games on the road and losing the two in the dome. The naysayers were screaming loudly now. They still didn’t know what to make of the new look Saints. None of us did. But we here in Saints Nation believed still.
The Saints started the regular season on fire, crushing every team in their wake and battling their way to a 13-0 record before losing to Dallas! Did y’all know that with that, the Saints set the longest undefeated season opening by an NFC team since the AFL-NFL merger? Who Dat! The offense was stellar as usual, ranking 1st in points and yards. But it was the defense that shocked the world. While still ranked at the bottom of the pack when it came to points and yards (20th and 25th respectively), the group was in the top of the league in takeaways and scoring off takeaways. They were an opportunistic bunch that played aggressive, ball-hawking every down type football. But perhaps just as important, they had a swagger about them as a unit that made other teams around the league take notice. For the first time to my knowledge, people were calling the Saints arrogant and cocky. We here in Saints Nation called them confident. And by the end of the 2009 season, the world called them champions!
The thing is, like now, no one knew what to expect from our team after all the shaking up done in the offseason. Sure, we all expected the offense to be tops, but the defense was often lost in their dust. With a few changes in the secondary, the defense became a force to be reckoned with. Those guys were on a mission and they played with a lot of attitude. When it was over, they’d accumulated 39 takeaways in the regular season and 8 in the playoffs! Before the season started though, who knew? At last, the defense complemented the offense, creating a recipe for a championship year!
Now we’re here at the point of uncertainty again. There are a lot of new faces. Nobody knows what to expect as a result. As many fans hope for the best, others prepare for the worst as this Saints team full of young, untested players prepare to start the season. And in situations like this, there will be plenty of doubt until performance shows otherwise. But who knows? Perhaps some of the new faces will be just the spark the Saints need to get them back to the postseason. The thing is, you just never know.