New Orleans Saints' Most and Least Improved Players
Well, NFL fans, believe it or not, we're about halfway through the 2012 NFL season. I guess time flies when you're having a blast.
Some of us fans may be happy with our team's performance, some may not. Hopefully, most of us have at least experienced a gradual change in productivity.
The New Orleans Saints are 2-4, yes, but they are better than their record indicates. The Saints still have some flaws that they have to deal with, but they look a lot sharper than at the beginning of the season. Individually, there have been some obvious improvements by some players, but there have also been some declines in performances.
Let's take a look at a few of those Saints players that are the most improved and the least improved throughout their first six games.
Most Improved: QB Drew Brees
Drew Brees had kind of a rough start. He wasn't playing with Drew Brees-like accuracy and was a little off on his timing. He threw five interceptions in his first three games.
But Brees definitely is back to the Brees of old, playing almost mechanically. In his last three games, he has thrown for 1,193 yards, 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
As long as Brees keeps playing like he is now, he can carry his team, and the Saints can go on a winning streak and put this losing record in the rear-view mirror.
Most Improved: WR Marques Colston
At the beginning of the season, wide receiver Marques Colston had a few injuries he had to deal with that slowed him down.
In his first three games, Colston only caught 10 passes for a total of 160 yards and no touchdowns. Not much of a threat, right? But a "quiet storm," a nickname he's had for a while, has been brewing. In the receiver's last three games, he has 25 receptions for 357 yards and five touchdowns.
Colston, Brees' favorite target, is back with a vengeance. If he can stay healthy, he is on pace to have his best season yet and may finally get a Pro Bowl nod.
Most Improved: DE Cameron Jordan
Second-year defensive end Cameron Jordan has made huge strides from his rookie year to this season. He's already close to surpassing the rookie numbers he produced last season.
In Jordan's rookie season, he had 31 tackles and one sack. This season, through six games, Jordan already has 27 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He's not exactly a sack-machine, but he has been consistent in applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks—more so than the other linemen—and has done a heck of a job in the Saints' run defense.
Least Improved: DT Brodrick Bunkley
When the Saints signed defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, they did so to improve their defense. He was the best run-stuffing tackle available in free agency, so the Saints signed him to a five-year deal worth $25 million, $9 million guaranteed. But he has been relatively quiet this 2012 season.
Bunkley is quick and athletic, but he has not made an impact on the defense yet. Through six games, the lineman only has 11 tackles. Bunkley needs to show more productivity and earn his big paycheck.
Least Improved: RB Mark Ingram
What happened to the former Heisman Trophy winner? The Saints gave up a couple of draft picks to the New England Patriots just to move up and select the running back out of Alabama, 28th overall.
Considered the best running back in the 2011 NFL draft, he showed some flashes of his potential his rookie year, but he has disappeared this season.
This season, Ingram has posted rather pedestrian numbers. He only has rushed for 127 yards on 44 carries, averaging 2.9 yards per run, and has just one touchdown. Not exactly what was expected of the running back when the Saints drafted him.
Ingram needs to step it up and be the back the Saints expected him to be. Yes, the offensive line has been struggling, and it has hurt the Saints' run game overall, but that can't be his excuse. He needs to play like the back that won the Heisman Trophy.
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