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Saints Looking To Regain Swagger In NFC South

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; The last won't be first in the volatile NFC South this fall, but the Buccaneers face some legitimate challengers for the division title. With Friday's trade for MLB Jonathan Vilma, the Saints declared themselves serious about regaining the swagger that ...

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Old 03-02-2008, 06:50 AM   #1
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Saints Looking To Regain Swagger In NFC South

The last won't be first in the volatile NFC South this fall, but the Buccaneers face some legitimate challengers for the division title.

With Friday's trade for MLB Jonathan Vilma, the Saints declared themselves serious about regaining the swagger that drove them to the NFC title game only two seasons ago.

Vilma was a two-year terror for the Jets before Eric Mangini replaced Herm Edwards on the sidelines and installed a 3-4 alignment that proved uncomfortable for the former University of Miami standout.

A knee injury limited Vilma to seven games last year, but the Saints are convinced he's healthy and eager to recapture his Pro Bowl form.

Boy, do they need him, because this defense is softer than a beignet.

Vilma is a huge upgrade over Mark Simoneau and he can emerge as the unit leader Coach Sean Payton craves. New Orleans might have fielded the worst defense in the league in 2007, yielding an NFL-high 5.8 yards per snap and 32 TD passes en route to a 7-9 record.

Not one New Orleans linebacker or defensive back would have been good enough to start for the Bucs last year, as the Saints held only three opponents to less than 16 points.

The club's defensive weaknesses were partly camouflaged in 2006 as New Orleans led the league in total offense, but Payton and GM Mickey Loomis knew better.

The Saints tried to improve, but offseason additions like CB Jason David, S Kevin Kaesviharn and LB Brian Simmons failed to make an impact.

The addition of Vilma for a conditional draft pick is a major move - and the Saints are far from done.

"I want to be the first guy through the drills, the first guy setting the tempo," said Vilma, the league's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2004. "I know winning is important to them. It's not something they talk about, it's something they are about. I like that."

With the 10th pick in the draft, New Orleans is in position to pick off a top-rated running back, providing insurance if Deuce McAllister fails to recover from his second torn ACL since 2005.

Drew Brees remains one of the game's most productive passers, Marques Colston is an elite receiver and Reggie Bush will be more effective if he doesn't line up as the featured back.

The Saints took a hit up front Friday when the Bucs signed center Jeff Faine, who anchored a line that yielded only 16 sacks in 652 pass attempts.

New Orleans will count on untested Jonathan Goodwin to replace Faine.

The Panthers, another 7-9 club looking to rebound, are traditionally cautious when it comes to free agency.

"I think we'll be active, I really do," GM Marty Hurney said. "I just think it's going to be steady active."

Carolina wisely kept OT Jordan Gross and dumped RB DeShaun Foster, who kept teasing the coaching staff with one dazzling play per month. Moody DT Kris Jenkins was dealt to the Jets and DE Mike Rucker is in limbo.

Remember five years ago, when the Panthers crowed their defensive line was superior to Tampa Bay's front that still included Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice?

The faces have changed on both sides and Carolina isn't talking up its defensive playmakers anymore.

Julius Peppers was the NFL's biggest underachiever of 2007, registering 2.5 sacks, and he needs a productive season to convince owner Jerry Richardson he deserves a lucrative long-term contract.

A healthy return by QB Jake Delhomme would be a huge boost for the Panthers, who still boast big-play WR Steve Smith and a talented secondary.

Delhomme was off to a dynamic start last year before a right elbow injury that required surgery.

Hurney needs to get busy filling in some holes before the draft.

Signing an experienced quarterback makes sense, following the failed David Carr experiment. Hurney and Coach John Fox are on borrowed time in Charlotte, where the Bill Cowher rumors are sure to intensify if the Panthers don't improve.

The NFC South's remarkable five-year run of last-to-first will end in 2008 as the Falcons rebuild under a new management team.

Veterans like Rod Coleman and Alge Crumpler already have been jettisoned and Atlanta could add a quarterback or a cornerstone up front with the No. 3 overall pick.

After three miserable seasons marked by poor drafts, injuries and incarceration, Falconsfans need a little reason to believe.

Saints Looking To Regain Swagger In NFC South
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Old 03-02-2008, 09:25 AM   #2
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Re: Saints Looking To Regain Swagger In NFC South

This could end up being a big steal for us and the Jets may have to wear some egg on their face after this, Vilma comes back strong at the end of 2008 and we get him for a fourth? LOL picking pockets.
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Old 03-02-2008, 09:37 AM   #3
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Re: Saints Looking To Regain Swagger In NFC South

That article states that J Goodwin is untested? Didnt he play and play well a few games that Faine was out?
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Old 03-02-2008, 10:45 PM   #4
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Re: Saints Looking To Regain Swagger In NFC South

yea goodwin is a better run blocker, he started the jacksonvilla game. We have a better number 2 corner and 3rd down rusher. The nfc south is ours!
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