The 2009 New Orleans Saints are trying hard to not play the what if game. What if they had not lost six of eight games in 08 by a combined 18 pts? What if they had not had so many injuries that they had an injured reserve list longer than the football field? The what if game will kill a football team. Instead, the Saints are looking at the 09 season as a fresh start. Here is how they stack up in the key areas:
New Orleans Saints Offense
This will be the first season in years that the Saints offense will not be led by Deuce McCallister. The Deuce was let go due to his knee problems, and he will be missed in the locker room, as well as on the field. Fortunately, the Saints still have Drew Brees under center, and he is among the best in the game. There is no shortage of targets for Brees either, as all his injured weapons from a year ago are now healed. The running game is not without weapons either, in spite of the loss of Deuce. Pierre Thomas showed flashes of being a star in the making, and then there is Reggie Bush. Coming out of college, the only knock on Bush was whether his smaller frame could take the pounding that the NFL puts out there. Bush has shown toughness, but this is a problem for the Saints. Bush is dynamic, but he is fragile. Still, if he is healthy he is a great weapon for the Saints.
New Orleans Saints Defense
Look no further than the defense for the reason the Saints did not make the playoffs last year. They were simply bad, and the Saints noticed. This offseason, they completely revamped the defense and coaching staff to try to address the problem. Unfortunately, this leaves the Saints with no idea how their defense will be come opening day. If the Saints falter, this will likely be the reason why. They did pick up safety Darren Sharper, and he should help break up some of those long bombs over the middle.
New Orleans Saints Special Teams
The special teams in New Orleans are nothing to scream about, but they are steady. Again, when Bush is on the field and healthy, this area is huge for the Saints. Bush had three returns for touchdowns when he was on the field. When he is not out there, the Saints are lucky to keep good field position. This area was unattended for the most part in the offseason, and Bush will need to stay healthy. The kicking game is pretty solid with a pair of youngsters. Garrett Hartley and Glenn Pakulak did an admirable job last year and return this season.
New Orleans Saints Coaching
Sean Payton is not going to be fired anytime soon, but he is under the gun a bit. He has two consecutive seasons where the Saints have struggled, and that is not good for the new Saints. The old Saints would think nothing of it, but this team is loaded with talent. As such, Payton hired and fired a virtual new group of assistants and coaches, and is trying to put more focus on defense. While Payton’s teams have put up the points, they have been unable to stop the other team. That will be Payton’s job description this year. Can he coach a defensive minded Saints team?
New Orleans Saints Prediction
The Saints will be the offensive juggernaut that they always are, but the defensive question marks and fragility of Reggie Bush will leave them middle of the pack in the NFC South. Expect the Saints to just miss the playoffs in a repeat of last year.