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JOESAM2002 01-19-2004 07:57 PM


Saints Off Season Analysis

Brent Foshee -
January 14, 2004 at 11:04am ET
The New Orleans Saints finished the 2003 season a disappointing 8-8. The Saints did manage to finish strong, going 7-4 over the last 11 games. The Saints now find themselves in the most competitive division in the NFL, however, and in serious need of addressing a few significant personnel issues. Tom Benson is unlikely to tolerate another non playoff year from Haslett and should the Saints not show vast improvement next season he could clean house and opt for a new GM and head coach.

2003 Unit Rankings

Passing: 8 Though the Saints finished in the top 10 in passing defense this was partially done with smoke and mirrors. Coach Haslett and his defensive staff deserve a great deal of credit for their defensive scheme which hides the Saints questionable talent in the defensive backfield. New Orleans finished tied for 20th in interceptions with 14 and tied for 21st in sacks with 32. Both of those numbers must be improved.

Rushing: 27 The off season trade of Norman Hand and mid season cutting of Grady Jackson will probably be good in the long run, but this season it left the Saints short handed at DT. While Jonathan Sullivan played well for most of the year, injuries to the Saints defensive linemen made it difficult for the Saints to start the same unit each week and their effectiveness was compromised.

Scoring: 14 The Saints finished a respectable 14th in scoring, the injuries to some of their key players probably hurt them here but an infusion of youth throughout their defense would help them.

Rushing: 11 Deuce McAlister was the teams MVP of the 2003 season. McAlister established himself as one of the finest backs in the league when he topped 100 yards 9 straight weeks. The blocking of Terrelle Smith and the Saints offensive line make the rushing offense the strength of their team.

Passing: 8 Aaron Brooks closed out the season strong. Joe Horn continues to remain among the best WR's in the league. Unfortunately Donte Stallworth was an injury concern for most of the year and Ernie Conwell battled a case of the drops and was thusly rendered ineffective. The Saints issue here is not related to talent, rather the consistency of that talent. Look for Talman Gardner to push someone for some playing time next year. The Saints might want to add a TE but their defensive needs are much greater so TE will likely not be a high priority thi s off season.

Scoring: 14 Like their defensive teammates the Saints offense also finished 14th overall in the league in scoring. A healthy Donte Stallworth, offensive line, and anything remotely similar to the Ernie Conwell of pre-2003 should help them improve next year.

Personnel Needs

The Saints have the 18th pick in the first round and the 17th pick (49 overall) in the second round. They should be able to bring in two solid players that can contribute immediately with these two picks. The Saints 4 primary needs in our eyes are 1) DT
2) CB
3) SS
4) ILB
The top 3 needs are almost interchangeable and the Saints would be wise to address whichever one has the best player available. Next week Saintsinsider will focus on the DT's available in the draft and who might be available to the Saints in rounds 1, 2, and 3, as well as their second day options.

ami2kind4words 01-19-2004 08:11 PM

1. CB
2. LB
3. OT
4. DT

Danno 01-20-2004 12:14 PM


Does everyone agree here a Free Agent CB will have more of an impact than a Rookie CB because the Saints have the 17th pick and no CB with that pick will be able to play as well as the list of FAs at CB?

I think we should draft the best LB or DL available.
I think a mid-tier CB like a Fernando Bryant would have a bigger immediate impact than any corner in the draft.
I wouldn\'t be upset at all if the Saints used their 1st pick on the highest rated LB or DT or even a LT if a can\'t miss all-pro type slips.
As long as we go into next season with a new stud LB, CB, and a run stuffing DT.
I don\'t care how they address it, draft or Free-agent, doesn\'t matter.

iceshack149 01-20-2004 12:48 PM

I may be getting ahead of myself but this is sure intriguing:



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January 20, 2004 -- The notion may seem absurd, but it\'s possible cornerback Ty Law played his last home game as a Patriot on Sunday despite the fact that he had three interceptions.
Law will enter next season with a salary cap number of some $9.5 million, and that actually is scheduled to escalate in 2005 to about $12.6 million.

The Patriots, whose formula is utilizing non-big-name, lesser-paid players, are surely going to want to renegotiate those figures down. Prior to this season, when safety Lawyer Milloy refused to restructure his contract to lower the cap figure, he was released.

\"If I do leave,\" Law said, \"I want to leave as a champion. The best thing I can do to negotiate for myself is to play football. No matter what happens, I\'ll be all right. Some decisions will have to be made about my future, but it\'s not like I\'m a free agent. It\'s out of my control.\"

Especially after that three interception performance on Sunday. That\'s a whole lotta money, though.

[Edited on 1/20/2004 by iceshack149]

BillyC 01-20-2004 12:49 PM

I think a team has to be able to rush the QB AND have a secondary that can cover. One helps the other and allows a defense to be flexible. That\'s the Pats key to success on defense. I think we are close on defense. I also think the Saints will be one of the most aggressive teams in free-agency.

It\'s true the Saints have not gone after big name free-agents in the past, but look for that to change this year. Haslett knows this is make or break time for him and I don\'t think he has felt pressure like this in the past. He would be a fool not to demand we go after the big names. Now, if he does make that demand and the FO doesn\'t do it, then that\'s on the FO. At least that\'s what I would be saying if I were Haslett.

WhoDat 01-21-2004 04:22 PM

Haslett hasn\'t shown the ability to change in the four previous years, why do you think he will start that now? Especially now that the company line is consistency, and we\'re almost there.

Nothing much changes. The Saints sign one or two players that you\'ve heard of in free agency, pass up DTs, LBs, CBs, and an OT for a guard in the draft, go 10-6 next season, make the playoffs as a wildcard, and Haslett continues to be amazed by fans who are mad that the THIRD most money available under the cap, good draft positions, and a team that only really needs four or five players to be Super Bowl contenders doesn\'t translate into a team with the bite to make any real push for a championship.

Next year, Haslett is still the coach, the Saints remain four or five players away from being a contender, have the fourth most money available under the cap, and people on this board continue to try to convince us that THIS is the year that everything will change. ;)

saintfan 01-21-2004 04:24 PM

...and they go 12-4 right?

WhoDat 01-22-2004 10:02 AM

Well, sure they will Saintfan. You and Billy have been telling us that for a LONG time.

saintz08 01-22-2004 10:07 AM

Kinda like Milli Vanilli , just lip syncing the same song over and over again ....

saintfan 01-22-2004 01:01 PM


I said it earlier in another thread - the Saints will go to the playoffs next year. They very well may win the division. They\'ve just got too much talent. The Panthers remind me of the Giants froma few years back - they\'ll fade next season. Take away their 5-0 start and they\'re 5-5 or something like that against average teams at best. They\'ll fade. Atlanta will come on strong. I don\'t expect to see much different out of the Bucs. But you\'re right about a few things - most importantly, Haslett is likely to be the head coach again and as a result, this team will continue to achieve less than it is capable of.

Honestly, the worst part of all of this to me will be next season when we go 10-6 or 11-5 and people on this board and around the league start talking about Haslett as a good coach. He\'s not, and he won;t be then. If the Saints are 13-3 next year, I\'ll rescind that comment, but until then, Haslett is an underachiever blessed with an incredibly talented team. Ask yourself this - what would his record be right now if he were in Cleveland, Cincy, Jacksonville, Arizona, Carolina, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, etc. etc. etc. He is only close to .500 every season here b/c we are SO talented personnel-wise. -- Whodat
So, what you\'re saying is that even tho you claim Jake is such a gifted \"leader\" with all this ability etc etc that you still think the Panthers were nothing more than average this year and that they\'ll fade next year? Why do you think they\'ll fade? This sorta goes against all that Jake Delhomme defending you\'ve been doing doesn\'t it? Don\'t you think Jake will simply \"will\" his team to Victory with his \"leadership\" intangibles?

You also think that at a best of 11-5 the Saints will win the division next year but that Haz will still be a bum. However, he\'s NOT a bum if he wins two more and goes 13-3? Shall I go dig up the post where you typed the Saints record next year of 12-4? Pretty optimistic for such a pessimistic fella who thinks the team is coached by a talentless hack. Wouldn\'t you agree?

[Edited on 22/1/2004 by saintfan]

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