New Orleans Saints Preview
Does it seem like Head Coach Sean Payton and Quarterback Drew Brees have been around forever? It may seem like it, but they did have football jobs in other locations before getting to New Orleans. But one thing they do have in common is that Brees and Payton are clearly on the same page when it comes to running the offense. Brees has excelled during his time with the Saints in no small part because he understands what Payton wants from this offense.
However, after three-consecutive 7-9 seasons and missing out on the playoffs, could this be their final season together. It will all depend on how this season unfolds. There is little question that Payton is a quality coach and that Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the game. But it might just be time for some changes in The Big Easy if they don’t turn things around soon.
The weapons are still there on offense, even after wide receiver Brandin Cooks left for New England. Michael Thomas, Willie Snead and newly acquired Ted Ginn Jr will be popular targets for Brees. Running back Mark Ingram is a better than average option carrying the ball and now that the team has acquired an All-Pro in Adrian Peterson, the Saints have a solid one-two punch in the backfield. Although at 32, it remains to be seen how much Peterson has left in the tank.
But it’s probably the defensive side of the ball that will determine how far the Saints go in 2017. They ranked 27th in overall defense in the NFL last season and will need to improve in that area for the team to get better. Cameron Jordan is strong as a defensive end and Sheldon Rankins shows promise as a young and developing player on the line although he is coming off of a broken fibula.
The linebacking core needs plays from veteran Dannell Ellerbe who has the speed to make big plays. Manti Te’o was brought in to compete for the middle linebacker position and the Saints drafted Alex Anzalone from Florida in the 3rd round in the hope that he will provide added depth.
The backfield looks to be a strength with safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Vonn Bell and cornerback Delvin Breaux, although Breaux had an injury riddled season last year. The team also added a potential stud at cornerback by drafting Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore with the 11th overall pick in the draft.
New Orleans will get the season going with a road game against the Minnesota Vikings on September 11th. One of the keys to their season is how well they survive their first four games since three are on the road and the only home game is against the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.