Will a Saintly Act Finally Help New Orleans Meet Expectations?

George AndersonAnalyst IIAugust 24, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 07:  Pierre Thomas #23 of the New Orleans Saints celebrate after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons on December 7, 2008 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.   The Saints defeated the Falcons 29-25.   (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The New Orleans Saints showcased the greatest passing attack in the league in 2008. Drew Brees came within 16 yards of breaking Dan Marino’s single season record for passing yards, but the final pass was just incomplete.

That was the good news, but the bad news was that the Saints had to come close to breaking the record just to reach an 8-8 record. There was not a running game until Pierre Thomas showed up later in the season and the defense could not stop anyone.

The Good

Drew Brees has become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He may only be 6 ft. tall, but he is like a miniature launching pad that can sling the ball anywhere on the field. He is the clear leader of the team and has not been anything less than stellar since coming from San Diego.

As long as Drew Brees is the quarterback, the receiving core of the Saints is one of the best. Marques Colston is the clear No. 1 as his 6’4 height has made him a big target for Bress and transformed the former seventh rounder out of Hofstra into one of the best receivers in the league.

On the other side is Devery Henderson, who is one of the top deep ball threats in the NFL as he averaged almost 25 yards per catch last season.

Jeremy Shockey is in this section because this is the year. He has spent a whole year with the team, he has become situated, and I feel that he will be relied on more to help carry the offense, especially if a run game does not appear.

The offensive line has been solid for the Saints as evident by Drew Brees’ monster years. It is a big line and they know how to pass protect. Jammal Brown earned a spot in the Pro Bowl for his efforts, and Goodwin and Evans do a great job of keeping the big tackles of the league of their quarterback.

They will face a tough challenge this year between the two East divisions and their own division as there will be the biggest monsters in the league like Kris Jenkins and Vince Wolfork to deal with, but I think they will hold long enough for Brees to have yet another monster season.

The Bad

The poor running game was a big reason why the Saints created an airline on the football field. Deuce was injured once again and, unfortunately, he is no longer a member of the Saints. Also, Reggie Bush showed his lack of durability and made a stronger case against him in whether or not he is really a running back.

The light at the end of the tunnel is Pierre Thomas. He brings the running game that the Saints need to be more balanced, so teams will not tee-off on the quarterback.

The schedule is also bad, but better than the rest of the division’s. They have to face teams like the Patriots, the Eagles, and the Giants, but they also get to face the Lions and Rams which are sure wins.

The Ugly

The defense is once again the reason why the Saints failed. In half the Saints’ games, the defense gave up around 30 points. The team went 2-6 in those games and the win against the Packers was due to an offensive explosion of 51 points.

The defensive line is not dominant at all. Sedrick Ellis did his job as the first round pick in 2008 as he was a run stopping force, but both Smith and Grant were disappointing at the end position.

Plus, because these two accept a commissioner’s ruling and do not think they are the exception, Smith and Grant are suspended for four games. The Saints did know this, though, and added Paul Spicer to go with Bobby McCray to fill the void until the suspension is over.

The linebackers are not dynamic sack masters, but it does seem that both Vilma and Fujita are in on every tackle. These guys have a nose for the ball and move sideline-to-sideline very well. Vilma finally seems to have found a system he can handle in New Orleans.

The weakness of the Saints weakness is the secondary. They were torched last season as they gave up more than 220 yards passing per game. Steve Smith from the Panthers especially had his way with them as he had one of his biggest games of the year in the first meeting. The Saints hope that this problem will be solved this season.

The Saints brought in one of the three best safeties in the NFL in Darren Sharper for guidance. They also drafted Malcolm Jenkins out of The Ohio State to add some play making ability. Along with Greer and Harper, these two should lower the average passing yards to closer to 200 yards a game.


Drew Brees is the best fantasy quarterback in the NFL and that is all you need to know.

Pierre Thomas is a solid No. 2 back and will take advantage of the threat of the passing game to get the fantasy points.

Marques Colston should have a better year than last as he is healthy now. His size will make him the red zone target and Brees’ go-to guy.

The sleeper is Jeremy Shockey. This is his year and he needs to do well. If he underperforms, Bily Miller will take the job and Shockey will need to find a new home.


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