Coach Sean Payton’s pass offense usually operates like a well-oiled machine, and this year’s aerial attack should greatly benefit from a much-needed offseason tuneup.
While Brees enjoyed another Pro Bowl season in 2013, the New Orleans passing game wasn’t quite as explosive as in previous years.
The Saints often had to put together long scoring drives, as the big play didn’t occur as frequently as fans are used to seeing.
To address the issue, the Saints used their first-round draft choice on explosive playmaker Brandin Cooks of Oregon State. The dynamic wideout scored a total of 18 touchdowns in 13 games last season and made a weekly habit of ripping through Pac-12 defenses like a hot knife through butter.
New Orleans also acquired fullback Erik Lorig via free agency. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and converted tight end should bring an additional element to the Saints' passing game, as he’ll likely be used extensively on short-out routes out of the backfield.
Of course, the Saints still have a host of returning veteran contributors to the passing game, including tight end Jimmy Graham, running back Pierre Thomas and wide receiver Marques Colston.
Then there’s the all-important area of pass protection. The Saints struggled in 2013 in this department, as left tackle Charles Brown regressed as the season went on. Then-rookie Terron Armstead replaced him in Week 16, and the second-year pro looks to have a bright future in New Orleans protecting Brees’ blind side. Veteran right tackle Zach Strief was re-signed this offseason and provides a capable complement to Armstead.
A couple of second-year players should also make a significant impact in the passing game. Wideout Kenny Stills hauled in 32 receptions as a rookie last year and is set to take on a much larger role this season. There’s also tight end Josh Hill, who showed some promise in limited action in 2013 after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent.
The Saints’ passing attack shouldn’t lack for weapons this coming season, and with Brees leading the way, the numbers should once again be off the charts.