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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Kinda slow in here today. cbssportsline's Strategy and Personnel: http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/teams/report/NO/7007636 The top priority for the Saints this off-season is adding more talent on the defensive side of the ball. But unlike last year, when coach Jim Haslett and defensive coordinator ...

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Old 01-17-2004, 03:59 PM   #1
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Saints Report

Kinda slow in here today.

cbssportsline's Strategy and Personnel:
http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/teams/report/NO/7007636

The top priority for the Saints this off-season is adding more talent on the defensive side of the ball.
But unlike last year, when coach Jim Haslett and defensive coordinator Rick Venturi tore that unit apart following a rather dismal performance, the Saints will be trying to tweak the components of a group that improved from 27th in the league in 2002 to 18th this season.

Bringing in more speed and finding some playmakers, especially at the linebacking positions, will be the main focus. Finding some young blood at cornerback will also be a key.

But overall, Haslett said he expects to have less turnover on that side of the ball this time around.

"We need continuity," he said.

COACHING CAROUSEL
There was some national speculation earlier in the season that Jim Haslett might be on the hot seat, but he wasn't going anywhere -- mainly because he has three years remaining on a contract believed to be worth $3 million annually.

Haslett has a 34-30 regular-season record and 35-31 overall mark in four seasons. After two straight December disasters, the Saints were much more competitive down the stretch this time and went 2-2 -- and the two losses were by a total of eight points.

Offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Rick Venturi will also be back.

Also returning are seven position coaches: Dave Atkins (running backs), Joe Baker (safeties), Greg Brown (cornerbacks), Al Everest (special teams), Winston Moss (linebackers), Bob Palcic (tight ends) and Mike Sheppard (quarterbacks). All received two-year contract extensions.

McCarthy, Venturi and offensive line coach Jack Henry were already under contract for 2004.

FEELING A DRAFT
The Saints, who have the 18th selection in the first round, will have an extra pick in the second round as a result of the trade that sent tackle Kyle Turley to St. Louis last spring.

As of now, the Saints do not have a pick in the third round as that one went to New England to complete the deal for free safety Tebucky Jones. Their seventh-round selection went to Miami for weak-side linebacker Derrick Rodgers, but they picked up a seventh-rounder from Washington from the trade of defensive tackle Martin Chase during training camp.

The top priorities would be cornerback, linebacker and maybe defensive line. Their top three cornerbacks -- Dale Carter, Ashley Ambrose and Fred Thomas -- are in their 30s and they don't have enough playmakers at linebacker. Another run-stopper in the middle of the front four wouldn't hurt, either.

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