We've talked ad nausea this offseason about all the issues the New Orleans Saints have had. Controversy upon suspensions upon front office ineptitude has now driven us to the beautiful part of the offseason in which we reside—OTAs.
Now is the time Joe Vitt, Steve Spagnuolo, Aaron Kromer and Pete Carmichael (as well as all the other assistant coaches) get to hunker down and do what they do best—coach football. Done are the scouting evaluations, draft meetings, free agency visits and other crap most NFL coaches tire of quickly.
These guys finally get to do what they love, which is simply coach ball.
Of course, coaching in OTAs is also a matter of evaluating the players in the building. That is a huge part of what takes place throughout the offseason program and training camp. They must make a decision based on what they see during these practices and the ones in late July and August to determine who makes the opening-day roster.
And they get the opportunity to begin planning the ways in which they will implement certain players into certain packages while determining which players will get some of the key roles on the football team.
The New Orleans Saints have a number of players whom coaches are excited to place in the lineup of the black and gold when September 9 rolls around.
As the Saints began their OTA practices this past week, they had a bit of a surprise for all football experts. Second-year defender Martez Wilson was placed on the second-team defensive line as right defensive end alongside fellow second-year defensive end Greg Romeus.
It's clear Joe Vitt and Steve Spagnuolo just want to get Wilson in the game somehow. Wilson was used at times as a rush end at Illinois, so it's not as if this is some wacky experiment bound to fail.
The team loves his explosion and motor, which will help him get pressure on the quarterback early and often. But don't expect it to be an all-or-nothing move for Wilson.
Most likely Wilson will go back and forth between the end spot and outside linebacker. But even if he is to stay at end permanently, Wilson is the perfect fit for the zone and zone-blitz scheme Steve Spagnuolo is bringing to The Crescent City.
Due to Drew Brees' absence, Chase Daniel is receiving the first-team reps at quarterback. Pete Carmichael has claimed that he will continue to operate in a status quo manner without Drew Brees under center.
In fact, the implementation and design of the offense has not changed one bit. Daniel is running the offense to rave reviews among coaches and players.
No one's going to mistake Daniel for the two-time NFL offensive player of the year, but note that Daniel is more than capable of maintaining the flow of the offense at least for the remainder of the offseason.
Even more importantly, though, is if Daniel is able to wow during the team's five preseason games, he could become quite the coveted treasure next offseason in free agency or via a trade.
Since the majority of OTAs are spent teaching base stuff, Greg Romeus was a second-string starter (if there were such a thing) in the first go-round of OTAs.
Fans and coaches alike are excited about the possibilities Romeus provides for this particular defense. The former Pitt Panther stud is capable of providing tremendous pass rush as he uses his natural burst and pass-rushing moves to get to the quarterback.
During OTAs, Romeus has impressed with his ability to do all those things well. His presence along with Martez Wilson's could provide quite a pass rush in 2012 and beyond.
Cameron Jordan is responding to the new defense that Steve Spagnuolo has brought to New Orleans. The team will still blitz, but will do so in a much more responsible manner by playing zone behind it and sometimes even dropping defensive linemen into coverage.
Jordan is also expected to move inside on passing downs sometimes. His versatility was clearly his best attribute as a draft prospect in 2011. That factor will be what makes or breaks his success in Spagnuolo's defense this year and for years to come.
In OTAs, Jordan has proven to be an intelligent player capable of moving all over the field. That's good news for the entire Saints defense.
Though David Hawthorne was a relative unknown playing up in the great Pacific Northwest, Saints coaches are ecstatic to have him now wearing the black and gold.
Hawthorne will instantly be plugged into the outside linebacker position while also playing a middle linebacker-type position in the nickel defense along with Curtis Lofton. At least that's how the team has used him thus far.
That role fits Hawthorne's skill set well. He figures to roam sideline to sideline to make tackles and cover the field well in pass coverage.
There is little doubt Hawthorne's presence will make this defense a good unit. In fact, between him, Lofton and Chris Chamberlain, the Saints are likely to have one of the top five linebacker units in the league. And they may make up one of the best defenses in the league as they play more zone coverage and feature a better pass rush.