The good news: The Saints finally established a running game.
The bad news: It was too late in the season for it to make much of a difference.
Ok, the Saints have finally found themselves a future running back in Pierre Thomas who carried the ball pretty good against Chicago last night. But they need to start next season in the balanced offense mode rather than slipping back into the passing offense mode as they did after Thomas' great performance against Chicago last season.
They also need a better secondary. Period.
You can't blame it all on Jason David. He's a pretty short guy, and it has to be tough for him to cover these newer, bigger receivers without any safety help. If Tracy Porter picks up where he left off before suffering that injury earlier in the season, then he should be a solid corner. Mike McKenzie is pretty much done after two knee injuries, so forget him. That leaves Usama Young, Randall Gay, David, Aaron Glenn, and whoever else the Saints pick up.
Now to the safety situation. Josh Bullocks and Roman Harper are just not getting the job done. Duh! Harper ruined our chances against Chicago with that big pass interference call in overtime to put "Da Bears" in field goal range. Bullocks has been giving up plays ever since he replaced Kevin Whats-His-Name. He would've given up a touchdown if Bears tight end Greg Olsen hadn't dropped the pass from Kyle Orton.
The pass rush is getting better, but it still isn't up to par. Rookie Sedrick Ellis had a big sack of Orton late in the game, possibly saving a touchdown. But the front four need to get in the quarterback's face a little more often. Bobby McRay has been a great addition to the team, as has Jonathan Vilma. Our run defense is pretty good, but we have seriously got to get a lot of power in the secondary.
Now for the offense.
Like I said earlier, Pierre Thomas is the future at running back. Reggie Bush was drafted to be that guy, but it's clear now that he will never be that on this team. Deuce McAllister's days as a New Orleans Saint are most likely over. He won't be an asset anymore, so the Saints may look at getting another running back in free agency or in the Draft.
Drew Brees is as good as ever, but like in the running back situation, the Saints may look to get another young quarterback to bring up after Brees. The Tyler Palko situation is obviously not working.
We're loaded at wide receiver, and if Robert Meachem doesn't step up soon, he may very well be looking for a new team. With this much talent at WR, Meachem has no room for error.
Jeremy Shockey was supposed to solidify the tight end position with Billy Miller and Mark Campbell as the additional tight ends. But Shockey has missed a lot of games with injuries, and it has looked as though he isn't in sync with Drew Brees. Hopefully, a completely injury-free offseason with the Saints should fix that.
Recently, the o-line has been playing better, especially in run blocking situations. But Jamaal Brown has to stop the false start penalties. Is he trying to break a record or something?
In the special teams situation, we started out the season with almost a completely different unit than we have now. Martin Gramatica was injured earlier during the season, Steve Weatherford was released, and Pierre Thomas had to stop returning kicks because of being the featured back.
But Garrett Hartley was signed at kicker, Glenn Pakulak at punter, and wide receiver Courtney Roby as a kick returner. Hartley has been perfect as a Saint so far, Pakulak dropped one near the one yard line in the game against the Bears, and Roby had several great returns before being sidelined with an injury.
So we know about what needs to happen next year. but what were the grades for the 2008 season? Well, here they are:
Special Teams: A-
Lets see if we can bring those grades up, Saints.