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Mickles: Five reasons Saints will be better in ’07

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; By SHELDON MICKLES Advocate sportswriter One week from today, on a steamy, sticky day in Jackson, Miss., the New Orleans Saints will take what they hope is the first step to Super Bowl XLII. The Saints, of course, have been ...

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Old 07-21-2007, 02:09 AM   #1
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Cool Mickles: Five reasons Saints will be better in ’07

By SHELDON MICKLES
Advocate sportswriter

One week from today, on a steamy, sticky day in Jackson, Miss., the New Orleans Saints will take what they hope is the first step to Super Bowl XLII.

The Saints, of course, have been at work since early April — putting 2‰ months into their offseason program to set the stage for training camp.

Needless to say, it’s the most anticipated camp in franchise history after the Saints won the NFC South title and earned their first spot in the NFC Championship Game.

When the players report to camp Wednesday and go through a rigorous physical test Thursday, coach Sean Payton will make sure they’re ready to step forward and not back — like the last Saints team that won a division title in 2000.

Here are five reasons why they’ll be even better in 2007:

1. The offense will be even more dangerous than a year ago: This is a given for the team that led the NFL in total offense with 6,264 yards last fall when you consider the four main weapons in Payton’s arsenal — Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush and Marques Colston — will have a full year in the system.

Remember, they were all limited in the spring of 2006 when the groundwork for the season was being laid; Brees and McAllister because they were coming off injuries, Bush and Colston because they had just been drafted.

2. Competition on defense: After signing several of their own unrestricted free agents, the Saints started filling some holes in their defense.

After finishing 11th in total defense a year ago, the Saints could have done nothing and hoped they would get better considering they would have been together another year.

But they went out and signed Kendrick Clancy, Brian Simmons and Dhani Jones, and Jason David and Kevin Kaesviharn to add depth and create competition on the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary.

3. A stronger kicking game: Even at the age of 42, John Carney was still an accurate field-goal kicker last year going 23 of 25.

But Carney didn’t have a strong leg on kickoffs and he and Billy Cundiff combined for eight touchbacks all season. Which is why the Saints traded for Miami’s Olindo Mare — who led the NFL with 24 touchbacks.

As a result, the Dolphins ranked second as the average starting point for opponents’ drives was the 24.9. The Saints were 23rd at 28.2 — which could be a huge edge for the defense over a 16-game season.

4. Team chemistry: The Saints were a team on a mission last season and coming up one game short of the Super Bowl will only fan the flames for success this season.

After winning their first two games last year, the Saints got better and better and played with more confidence.

Along the way, they developed team chemistry and turned it into an overriding theme in their magical season. The ability to continue that will be a key to their success.

5. Sean Payton: If you think Payton is going to let this team rest on its laurels, you had better think again.

From the time they re-assembled in April for the offseason workouts, Payton has preached to his players the perils of complacency.

If by some chance some of them didn’t get the message then, they will as soon as the first whistle blows July 26.

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Last edited by blacksaint; 07-21-2007 at 02:13 AM..
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