TWO DAT?! Five Reasons Why The New Orleans Saints Will Repeat
As we all are well aware of, the Saints won the Super Bowl last season. In most cases they were not even predicted to make it to the play-offs. But they defied all odds and stormed through the regular season and played well in the post-season. Many people when asked about the 2009 Saints will tell you that their season was like catching lightning in a bottle. That everything aligned perfectly and the Saints got lucky. Others are so bold to say that they do not deserve their rings because they played "dirty". But who's to say its not pure talent and the beginning of a dynasty? I have put together five reasons why the saints will repeat as NFL champions and Saints fans everywhere will chant Two Dat!
1. The Gang's All Here
In most Super Bowl team's cases the team is split up and broken apart. Players are offered new contracts elsewhere or become greedy. But not these Saints. This team has for the most part stuck together. They realize the special group of players that they have and hey, why fix what isn't broken? The only key players that the Saints lost were defensive end Charles Grant, running back Mike Bell and linebacker Scott Fujita. While these players were important to the teams championship run they are replaceable.
Grant was past his prime and didn't put up game changing stats either. He has been Successfully replaced by a deep d-end corps that includes Alex Brown, Jimmy Wilkerson, Jeff Charleston and Junior Galette. Personally I believe that this group has improved significantly. They will compliment Will Smith nicely.
Mike Bell was willingly let go by the Saints and that tells me that Sean Payton knows something that we don't. I definitely trust his judgement against my own and so should you. As involved as Mike Bell was last season, the Saints current backs can more than compensate. Pierre Thomas is a complete do it all back. While Reggie Bush looks to be in the best shape of his career and is primed for a big season. This one two punch coupled with the emergence of Chris Ivory and his powerful running style will lead to an even better running game in 2010.
The main area of concern is in the Saints linebacker corps. Scott Fujita was an emotional leader for the team and provided steady stats. But he lacked the big game changing play potential. The Saints have several young players hungry to take the starting role. They all have high upside and should fill the void nicely.
2. Drew Brees
Probably the most important asset to a play-off caliber team is an elite quarterback. Yes. Brees is an elite quarterback. In fact he has taken that title and ran with it. Just take a quick look at his stats since arriving in New Orleans. Over 4,300 yards the past four seasons coupled with a near record breaking 5,000 yard season. Two straight seasons with 34 touchdowns, a rating of 109 last year and an NFL record 70.6 completion percentage. He has arguably the leagues best offensive line and the leagues deepest receiving core that includes: Marques Colston, Devry Henderson, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, Jeremy Shockey, David Thomas, Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas. Seven separate receivers had 35 or more catches last season.
I can only see Brees getting better as he enters the prime of his career. He is too motivated and focused to let his team fall victim to a Super Bowl hangover. All of his weapons are healthy and ready to go. Drew has the support of an entire city behind him as he looks to go for two. Add the fact that the majority of the media has the Saints declining severely this season, and i see Brees going out there with a chip on his shoulder looking to prove it wasn't all a fluke.
3. Reggie Bush
I know this has been said numerous times before. But Reggie Bush is primed for a breakout season. he is a larger component of this offense than most people realize. Just his presence on the field causes defensive coordinators to think twice about their coverage. And for good reason. He is one of the most versatile and athletically gifted players in the NFL. This will mark the first off-season that he has gone through without having to rehab from injury.
He looked stellar in pre-season play and it looked as though the Saints were making it a point to feed him the ball. He will never be a pounding 20 carry a game back but he doesn't need to be. The damage that he can do with a few touched is enough to win football games. He is a threat to score any time he touches the ball including punts, rushing and receiving. Expect Bush to become an even larger contributer to this team and remind everyone why he was a first round pick.
The Saints have one of the leagues premier cornerback groups. The group is anchored by Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter. In nickel situations Randall gay, Malcolm Jenkins and Patrick Robinson come out. They are the reason that the team was able to create so many turnovers.
Greer is an up and coming shut down corner who is often overshadowed by Porter due to his post-season heroics. But make no mistake that Greer is the best cornerback on this team and arguably in the top three in the league. He can play man to man with the best receivers in the league and never backs away from contact.
Porter is now a household name due to his post-season game ending interceptions from Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. And he deserves it. He is a talented athlete that is dedicated to the game. The only way he was able to make those plays was by studying game film intensively. He has great instincts and like Greer, is not afraid of contact. A perfect fit for Greg Williams defense.
The other three corners are all talented enough to be starters on most other teams. That is just the kind of depth the Saints have. Gay is a steady corner that is okay in coverage but can make plays in the run game. Malcolm Jenkins is currently the starting free safety in place of Darren Sharper but is an excellent corner in coverage. He proved last season that he can hold his own while replacing Greer and Porter while injured. Patrick Robinson is raw talent right now but the Saints expect big things from him in the future.
5. Why Not?
There aren't any real reasons why the saints cannot repeat as Super Bowl Champions. They return the core unit of players on both sides of the ball and have the deepest pool of weapons in the NFL. The team has a swagger about them that will not be broken. They will lead the league in offense once again this year and there's no reason why they can't raise the bar. The run game will be healthier and will become a more vital aspect of the Saints high octane attack. On the defensive side of the ball they can only improve. I'm not saying they will reach forty turnovers but they should become more stout in giving up yardage. They have one year down of Williams' scheme and that can only mean more exotic blitz packages. When all is said and done the Saints will have proven that they deserve respect as a top team in this league as they hoist their second Lombardi trophy. TWO DAT!