3 Reasons 2012 Hasn't Been a Complete Loss for New Orleans Saints

Jonathan Peralta@itsjperaltaContributor IIIDecember 18, 2012

3 Reasons 2012 Hasn't Been a Complete Loss for New Orleans Saints

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    After the beating the New Orleans Saints handed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15, the Saints still have the smallest chance to make the playoffs; they just need a miracle to happen.

    The Saints would need to win out and have the rest of the teams in the NFL wild-card playoff hunt to lose all their games. The New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings need to lose the remainder of their games, but, also, the Saints need the Rams to lose at least once in order to claim the No. 6 spot in the playoffs.

    Like I said: a miracle.

    Compared to the past few years, this season can be chalked up to be a disappointing one for the Saints and Who Dat nation. The Saints' 2012 season was not for the faint of heart, and while the Saints do have a slim chance at making the playoffs, some Saints fans have already packed it in for the season. But, before you do, Saints fans, let's look at a few reasons why this season hasn't been a complete loss for the team.

Defense Shows Signs of Improvement

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    The Saints' moribund defense, still on pace to give up the most yards in NFL history (no thanks to its awful start to the season), has shown signs of improvement in recent weeks.

    The defensive unit is getting more familiar with coach Spagnuolo's schemes and looks more comfortable.

    Yes, the defense has still been giving up a ton of yards, but their bend-not-break defense has tightened up compared to how they started off. The defensive unit did not start off well under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo; there were a lot of miscommunications in the secondary, a ton of missed tackles and a lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

    But as of recent, the defense has made a lot of key stops when it counted, created a lot of turnovers and the front seven have been applying pressure on quarterbacks. They have created 14 turnovers in their last five games; 11 in their first nine games.

    With the momentum the defense has been building up, we now know that the majority of the Saints' defensive personnel can work with and be effective under Steve Spagnuolo.

Chris Ivory Proved He Needs to Be Given the Ball More

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    The Saints have a talented but crowded backfield with running backs like Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas, so at the beginning of the season running back Chris Ivory was missing in action.

    Ivory wasn't given an opportunity to carry the ball until Week 9, but he took advantage of the chance when he got it. Ivory was a beast, using his power and speed to run through, or run around defenders, reviving the Saints' ground game. In the five games he played (before he got banged up), Ivory averaged 5.4 yards per carry with four touchdowns.

    We got to witness firsthand that it was a mistake for the Saints to leave Chris Ivory out of the ground game—when he was in there he was effective and moved the chains. He should be used more often next season.

Cameron Jordan Is Going to Be a Monster for Years to Come

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    In just his second year, defensive end Cameron Jordan has made huge improvements. He has helped the Saints in both the run defense and at pressuring opposing quarterbacks. He is having a great year with 59 combined tackles, eight sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He will be a force to be reckoned with.

    If Jordan can keep up that type of production for the Saints, he will be in the Pro Bowl for years to come.