The New Orleans Saints went from NFC favorites, looking primed to go to their first Super Bowl in franchises history, to the team expected to be eliminated in their opening-round playoff game.
After starting the season 13-0 the Saints undefeated season ended with a loss to the Dallas Cowboys, followed up with losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers, but do not fall into the hype that the Saints are done and that they "peaked" to early.
Here are my reasons why the Saints will be legit contenders in the play offs.
I don't know if there is anyone on this team who has been more of a force on special teams than Courtney Roby not even Reggie Bush. Courtney Roby scored the teams only special teams touchdown of the season against the St. Louis Rams, but even his efforts weren't enough to help a special team that has been inconsistent throughout the season.
The Saints special team unit allowed a punt return late in the fourth quarter against the Buccaneers that tied the game. If that wasn't enough disappointment out of the Saints special teams second year kicker Garrett Hartley missed a game-winning field goal on the next drive that would cost the Saints a overtime loss.
Sean Payton has announced that more starters will play on special teams through out the play offs hopefully this will help in both the return game and the kick off and punt games. Expect rookie Malcolm Jenkins to be a force on special teams, like he was in the beginning of the season remember he lost special teams time due to injuries in the secondary which meant the Saints had to put him in the starting roll.
I'm hoping Reggie Bush can finally do it this year I've been crossing my fingers on every punt return saying "This is the one" will he bring it in the Post Season where it matters the most?
The Saints run game hasn't been to bad you could say when they have att least ran the ball. In their three losses the Saints ran the ball 68 times for a combined total of 313 yards with a 4.6 yards per carry average. The Saints run game was a big reason for their success in the beginning of the season and could elevate the play of quarter back Drew Brees if they could just re-establish the run.
The Saints pulled a hat out of their books in the last game of the season against the Panthers and ran their first wildcat play of the season with running back Lynell Hamilton. It would be great seeing this ran in the postseason with Reggie Bush under center handing it off to a Pierre Thomas.
The Saints haven't had a 80-yard rusher since Week 10 of the season against a horrible Rams defense. Now I know some people might say, "well what about a 100-yard rusher." Unfortunately for the Saints running backs, they've split their carries all between three backs which makes it hard for them to have 100-yard games, I must say. I believe Pierre Thomas would've had a 100-yard game against the Bucs in our second loss.
Oh Yes it's true, the Saints are a way better D than most would expect. The defense, hampered by injuries, lost both their starting corners for most of the second half of the season, forcing New Orleans to switch to a softer defense. Now you seen in against the Panthers with both starting corners in the Saints blitzed and than they blitzed some more and consistently brought some pressure to the quarterback.
Expect to see Gregg Williams ride this philosophy through out the playoffs to make the NFC quarterbacks uncomfortable and throw their timing off. The more we can blitz the more we can stop the run, meaning we will be filling up more holes.
It also means Will Smith will have a lot less attention focused on him. With both our starting corners back, we can allow Safety Darren Sharper roam free in the secondary looking to make a game changing interception.
I have that gut feeling about Marques Colston. I know he's had his rough games: Carolina where he dropped the ball several times, Tampa Bay where he fumbled and St. Louis where he fumbled. But I honestly think this young man is going to show up when it matters the most.
Remember last year when Fitzgerald exploded on the scene in the playoffs. Well look no farther this is our guy. Colston also has the ability to jump over a defensive back and honestly he seems to show up when it matters the most. Yes we can say Shockey will be the difference on third down, but I believe in the playoffs Colston will make more than just one game-changing play.
Can anyone tell me why Drew Brees won't make an impact? He's what keeps this offense running so well and you could tell that by just going back and re watching the last game of the season without Brees under the center.
Drew Brees is coming off his best season yet as a New Orleans Saints with 34 touchdowns passes and only 11 interceptions. Oh yes, I know he didn't pass for another 5,000 passing yards, but he did break the completion percentage in a single season record!
Brees cut down on the interceptions, which I am glad about. It will give him and the Saints more opportunities to score points on opposing defenses and make our defenses job A LOT more easier than before.
His uncanny ability to pick apart a defense will make it a lot easier for the Saints running backs to find lanes to run through. This man should be this year's NFL MVP.