32 teams began their quest this week for the next Superbowl, but this article isn’t about 31 of them, it’s about the hopes and dreams of the WhoDat nation.
After two disastrous 7-9 seasons the Saints are looking to return to not only a winning season but the playoffs as well.
- In the Saints 50 year history there has only been 10 season’s with winning records, 5 of those have been with Payton as the Head Coach and Brees as the QB.
- This is the first time since 2006 that the Black and Gold have had two consecutive losing seasons.
- The last time the Saints went two consecutive years without making the playoffs they came back with a Super Bowl winning season.
I don’t think anyone is expecting the Saints to field a top 5 defensive team, anything in the middle of the pack and above would be a huge upgrade. The key for the Saints defense, like any other defense in the league will be if they can produce turnovers. Last season they tied for 18th in the league with 22 takeaways. The team that led the league in takeaways was Carolina with 39. At the end of the day, the biggest job for the Saints coaching staff is to change the mindset on the defensive side of the ball. Things to watch for this year:
- In the defensive backfield there will be some new faces and an old one, Roman Harper. I don’t know if anyone is expecting Harper to come in and be the play maker he was in year’s past but one thing that he can bring is attitude. When I say attitude I’m not talking temperament, I’m talking about doing the things that are needed in order to win games. With Harper coming back and a certain CB (whom I refuse to utter his name) who led the whole universe in bone crushing penalties gone, and with the other new faces, the DB’s appear to be upgraded over last year.
- Linebacker play should improve with the addition of Laurinaitis which gives Anthony less play calling responsibilities and more of a chance to be a playmaker. The big question with this group is if Ellerbe can come back and play healthy. He’s already proven when he’s on the field that good things happen for the Saints, the problem has been staying off the injured list.
- The biggest question of all with the defense will be the play of the defensive line. Cam Jordan and then the rest are question marks. Hopefully Farley will come in and play smart and be the run stopper that the Saints need in the middle. Rankins is getting good reviews and if he can pick up the nuances of the NFL game quickly he should be a big plus. The key to the success of the defensive line unit and maybe to the Saints season is if they can get a consistent pass rusher to play opposite of Cam Jordan.
In the last 10 years the Saints offense has been ranked in the top 5 of total offensive stats every year except one. In 2010 they were ranked 6th. Five of those years the Saints have been ranked #1. That covers the what have you done for me lately, the challenges this season are:
- Keeping Brees upright and healthy. The responsibility for this falls on the offensive line. The big question here is about the guard play, Peat and Kelemete appear to be the front runners for the starting positions, but I don’t remember a season in recent memory where the focus was on the guards like it will be this year.
- Incorporating the newcomers. Last year without Graham the offense was able to adjust and thrive. This year with a new tight end (Fleener) and without Colston, more adjustments will need to be made. With Payton and Brees’s track history of adapting to changes this shouldn’t be an issue. It will be interesting to watch Snead and Cooks and Michael Thomas to see how quickly and how well they mesh as a unit.
- Find out if Ingram is the Man. What the Saints need is a breakout year from Ingram, who has gotten better but still has not had a breakout year, this would be a good time for the Saints for him to have one.
So there you have it….the kickoff article for the 2016 season. A lot of questions but I just checked the standings and we are tied for 1st…..
Bill Stephens, SaintsGab writer, Follow Saints Gab on twitter @SaintsGab
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