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Saints Team Report

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; The Saints have not targeted many of their own unrestricted free agents from last year, but they put an emphasis on re-signing DT Willie Whitehead. Whitehead started 15 games last year and works in a three-man rotation with veteran Brian ...

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Old 03-30-2006, 06:40 AM   #1
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Saints Team Report

The Saints have not targeted many of their own unrestricted free agents from last year, but they put an emphasis on re-signing DT Willie Whitehead. Whitehead started 15 games last year and works in a three-man rotation with veteran Brian Young and Johnathan Sullivan, finally is emerging. Defensive tackle position has been one of the Saints' biggest weaknesses since early in this decade. But with Whitehead, Young and Sullivan all healthy and productive for the first time together last year, the Saints showed great improvement. Whitehead brings a good combination of size (6-3, 300) and athleticism, and he can line up at either tackle position or fit into the nickel and dime defenses. That versatility is nice for the Saints, but they would still love to see Sullivan--a first-round draft bust early in his career--fulfill his potential and earn a larger role. . . . The Saints also re-signed veteran SLB James Allen. They expected big things from him last year after his breakout season in 2004, but a knee injury slowed him throughout training camp, and he played a limited role in three games before going on injured reserve. Allen has never fully realized his potential, but he emerged as a playmaker at the end of the '04 season. There's no reason Allen can't regain that form because of his athleticism. He will enter this year as a backup behind new acquisition Scott Fujita, so the pressure will be off and he can make his mark mostly on special teams. . . . The Saints signed TE Mark Campbell to a three-year deal. Campbell is not a marquee player, but he has been a starter over the past four years in Buffalo and Cleveland. It's unclear what this means for the rest of the tight ends on the Saints‚ roster. Veteran Ernie Conwell, 33, missed the second half of last season after having surgery on his PCL and carries a big cap hit. His backup, Zach Hilton, was an outstanding replacement last year, especially as a receiver. Hilton is a restricted free agent this year, but he has not been seriously courted by other teams and the Saints won't let him go easily. Campbell, meanwhile, is equally competent and reliable as a blocker and pass catcher, adding depth in both departments. Campbell, 30, has a total of 95 receptions and nine touchdowns over the past four years, though the Bills didn't feature the position.

HARD TRUTH: The Saints absolutely did the right thing by signing QB Drew Brees, even though they soared past his market value to get him. No other free agent could have brought the same kind of optimism and excitement to a market that needs those things. But with Brees' shoulder injury and the Saints installing a new offense under coach Sean Payton, the offense will be uneven and inconsistent at times during this season. If the Saints want to return quickly to their pre-2005 level and make a run at the playoffs this year, their new coaching staff will have to get a rise out of the defense. The Saints' defense showed improvement last year, keeping games close and ranking in the middle of the NFL pack in yardage categories. But they didn't make enough big plays, never scoring a defensive touchdown. DE Will Smith is a bona fide stud. S Dwight Smith and DE Charles Grant are above average. CB Mike McKenzie had a bad year in 2005 but should bounce back and be an asset again. And new LBs Scott Fujita and Anthony Simmons are a slight upgrade. Collectively, this is a decent group. But they need to be better than that and set the tone with momentum-shifting performances. The Saints didn't land a premiere free-agent defender, but they might go that direction in the draft. Otherwise, the onus is on first-time defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and his assistants to maximize the value of this promising unit


http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/teams/saints/
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Old 03-30-2006, 07:35 AM   #2
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That is a pretty decent assessment. More optimistic about DT than I might be. After the LBs being so terrible the last few years I am not in complete preseason dread as I have been with Fujita and Simmons on board. The weakness of the OL was not addressed. Across from Mckenzie is a big hole. A good point that a impact playmaker is needed on defense. Hawk at the #5 or #6 spot with added picks would be ideal IMO.
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Old 03-30-2006, 11:11 AM   #3
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Definitely a fair assessment. I don't know about any of y'all, but besides Drew Brees, I am most excited about Anthony Simmons. He's 29, so he's still pretty young. In 2000 and 2001 he had 147 and 123 tackles, respectively. Since 2003, we've only had one player total over 100 tackles, 102 by Tesucky, in 2004. We haven't had a LB have more than 80 tackles in those three years. I am really interested to see how this guy plays. He's obviously one of the more talented LBs in the league. I would love to see him resurrect his career here and rack up over a hundred tackles this season.
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Old 04-02-2006, 11:05 AM   #4
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pretty good. i like it. i am hoping we get more out of our players because of our new staff
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Old 04-02-2006, 11:49 AM   #5
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I think we need Leinart! No I didn't say that, just a late April fool's joke.

Hawk has always been the only choice for us. Defense, Defense, Defense is what the scream at games not Offense, Offense, Offense cuz that just sounds retarded.

Average Offense/Great Defense = Win alot!
Average Offense/Average Defense = Win some!
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Old 04-02-2006, 01:36 PM   #6
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I like that assessment, but I think it goes soft on Sully. He was a reach that had us going "What the F***" back when, and has never really panned out. We could have had Trufant, and that is what we needed then. I am convinced that Haz saw himself as some kinda miracle worker...no other reason we kept such an amount of dead weight onthe lineup for so long.

I am slowly coming off the Brick soapbox every day. I still think he is key to helping rebuild our line, but I am starting to think adding Hawk and another LB during the first day will kick our D up to 2000-type levels.

I really disagree with one line of that article, though. Grant isn't above average. He is a stud too, but he needs more consistent play fromat least 2 of our other 3 line spots. He had breakout years when Howard/Smith were going all out and Young and Green were at least servicable at the same time. Last year he had Howard looking to cathc the first taxi out of the NO and Smith trying hard onthe other side...and that's it. With those two (smith and grant) we have a great line tandem. I say better than Grant and Howard.
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Old 04-02-2006, 03:09 PM   #7
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I'm in some disagreement with the Grant quote as well. I think Grant would benefit for something he has not had since he came into the NFL.... coaching.
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