As another season begins to unfold through the draft and mini camps, on its way toward an always strenuous training camp, the 2009 New Orleans Saints have lofty expectations placed upon themselves.
With the No.1 offense in the league and an MVP-caliber quarterback, the Saints needed improvements on the defensive side of the ball.
Saints coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis were quite effective in pursuing free agents as well as staff members to create a new-look defense. The newest and biggest piece of the defense has to be defensive mastermind Gregg Williams.
The Saints, however, didn’t stop at the coordinator position. They signed key additions during the free agency period.
Veteran safety Darren Sharper was brought over from the Minnesota Vikings and cornerback Jabari Greer was also brought in to shore up the much-maligned secondary.
During the draft, defense was an obvious priority for New Orleans.
Cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, former Ohio State buckeye standout, was the first player selected by the Saints with the 14th pick in the draft. Stanley Arnoux and Chip Vaughn, two Wake Forest defenders, were added in the 4th round.
With these new found weapons, the 2009 New Orleans Saints team expects to be playing come January. For this team, the time is now. Payton knows he will not have the veteran gun-slinger Drew Brees much longer and he needs to win a championship before Brees’ time runs out.
If Williams can change the defensive mentality from the past few years into an aggressive ball-hawking team, the Saints have a great opportunity to play deep into the playoffs. The downfall, however, has to be key injuries to this team.
The 2006 Saints, who advanced to the NFC Championship game, were fortunate enough not to sustain any key injuries. However, the past two seasons have not been as easy.
Injuries to players like Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey, Reggie Bush, and Deuce McAllister have plagued the continuity of the team.
The 2008 season was not only marked by injuries, but also close losses. The Saints were victims of many 4th quarter losses. Five of the eight losses suffered by the team were by three points or less.
The close games must be finished with emphasis by the 2009 New Orleans Saints and the injuries must be kept at a minimum.
Just like every other year, Saints fans, you got to have FAITH.