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Saints look over wasted season

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Defense among major concerns By LARRY HOLDER lholder@sunherald.com METAIRIE, La. --The shift in focus for the New Orleans Saints will be almost immediate following Sunday's loss in Chicago. No time for sulking over the head-scratching season that was 2007. Finding ...

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Old 01-01-2008, 09:11 AM   #1
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Saints look over wasted season

Defense among major concerns

By LARRY HOLDER
lholder@sunherald.com

METAIRIE, La. --The shift in focus for the New Orleans Saints will be almost immediate following Sunday's loss in Chicago.

No time for sulking over the head-scratching season that was 2007. Finding the numerous holes in the Saints' armor and plugging them is now top priority for a team that sputtered their way to a 7-9 record.

Saints coach Sean Payton called the next month one of the most important times of the year. It's filled with self evaluations - coaches, players and schemes - along with outside assessment - free agents and draft picks.

"I've seen a lot of bad decisions made in this month from different teams when I've been in a system," Payton said. "There's been a lot of bad decisions made from January to March... . Whether it's scheme, personnel, you name it. It's the 'Hey, someone's gotta hang month.'

When discussing what needs to change for the Saints to succeed next season, the first thing Payton pointed out was their faulty defense. And for good reason.

The Saints finished the season ranked 26th in total defense and 30th in pass defense. They surrendered 32 passing touchdowns, tying them with Detroit for the most in the NFL.

New Orleans holds the No. 10 overall pick in the 2008 draft and defense will be the likely emphasis. The Saints also have plenty of money to spend since they are more than $30 million below the salary cap.

Defensive tackle Brian Young and middle linebacker Mark Simoneau are two of the more notable free agents. The possibility of either player returning is up in the air. Obvious help in the secondary is necessary, and Mike McKenzie's knee may not be at full speed to start next season.

"I'm talking about getting some more good, young players to help on that side of the ball," Payton said. "If you're just looking at where we're at and how we're built, it's just an area where we feel like we can help ourselves and bring some young players in or some veteran players in. It's an area we want to upgrade and try to address."

Payton also added a change needs to be made in the kick and punt return game. In a record season league-wide in return touchdowns, the Saints didn't enjoy any of those benefits as they failed to reach the end zone.

"We'll set up our areas of needs, musts where we need to improve and have to improve," Payton said. "And if that involves an impact player on defense or on offense, then we'll set out to do that."

Drew Brees and David Patten were the only two players to enter the locker room during Monday's media availability. Brees was the only one to speak and he labeled this season as one of the most disappointing of his career considering the lofty prospects following an NFC championship game appearance a year ago.

"The expectation levels already put you in the playoffs before the season started," Brees said. "And I think we all believe that. Even two weeks ago we believed that. I don't think there was doubt in anybody's mind that we were going. Life does this to you sometimes and I think it only makes you stronger."

Payton doesn't particularly feel the need to tinker too much offensively with the weapons the unit possesses. Building around Brees on both sides of the ball will be what the Saints will peer at during the offseason.

"We've got a nucleus here starting with the quarterback that we feel like can win championships. We'll keep building around him and keep putting the right guys in the locker room. That's going to be the key for us."

Despite missing the postseason, Payton maintains the goal for this franchise is to win championships.

"Our expectations are higher than that," Payton said. "This isn't the same old Saints as I read someone wrote earlier today. We're changing that. That's why obviously there's disappointment. We're shooting to win a Super Bowl and that's where our expectation level is set."

SunHerald.com : Saints look over wasted season

About TIME!

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over, over, and over again...and expecting a different outcome!
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