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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints report: Inside slant Jan. 29, 2004 http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/teams/report/NO/7045555 The dust has settled on the Saints' 8-8 campaign, but the team's front office and coaching staff is still feverishly looking for answers to another season gone sour. General Manager Mickey Loomis ...

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Old 01-29-2004, 04:31 PM   #1
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Saints report: Inside slant Jan. 29, 2004


The dust has settled on the Saints' 8-8 campaign, but the team's front office and coaching staff is still feverishly looking for answers to another season gone sour.
General Manager Mickey Loomis said it may be another few weeks before the final results are in, but the "autopsy" will continue well into the off-season. After breaking even by winning seven of their last 11 games the Saints missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

Preliminary findings showed the Saints were the victims of many things in 2003: they led the NFL with 20 fumbles lost and were terribly inconsistent on offense, the defense gave up too many rushing yards, and they had numerous breakdowns on special teams. Pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball were also an all-too-common occurrence for Jim Haslett's club.

As they typically do at this time of the year, the entire football operations will be put under the microscope. Loomis said the Saints would come up with a list of between 15 and 25 things that will need to be done as it relates to the team's personnel. He said that list contained 20 objectives last season and all were crossed off their list.

"This year isn't any different, we'll go through the whole thing," Loomis said. "Jim and I have already talked a number of times about what we can do differently as an organization. And we'll keep talking about them."

After the coaching staff completes a thorough position-by-position analysis of players on their roster or on injured reserve at the end of the season, the Saints coaches and scouting staff attended Senior Bowl workouts. After that, they will hold staff meetings to formulate the plan that will be put into effect -- the start of the effort they hope will return the Saints to postseason play next January.

"Everybody (in the organization) has got their opinions on different things, now we've just got to put everything together," Loomis said. "We've got to come to a consensus on what we need to do to go forward.

"We've got some disagreements on a few individuals, not many of them, but we got to get those resolved," he said. "Then, we'll come up with our offseason plan and just get after it. We'll do some of it at the Senior Bowl, but we'll come back and do the rest of it."

Naturally, veteran free agency will be the focus of the team throughout February and March, which will overlap with the preparations for the April 24-25 draft.

The Saints have 13 unrestricted free agents, a list headed up by defensive end Darren Howard and cornerback Fred Thomas, and three picks in the first two rounds of the draft.

"We're going to have some cap room, there's no doubt about it," Loomis said.

But that will have to wait a little longer. Before they move on, they want to make sure they leave no stone unturned in trying to find out what happened this season -- and try to make sure it doesn't happen again. The Saints ended the season with a 7-4 mark after a dreadful 1-4 start.

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Old 01-30-2004, 12:39 PM   #2
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I know most of us felt the main thing the Saints need to repair last year was the defense. More specifically the linebacker and cornerback positions. I also think most of us felt the offense was fine and would be just as good, if not better.

But, what we as fan\'s thought were problem area\'s didn\'t necessarily mean that\'s what the Saints organization thought. (and that\'s what really counts, right?)

I don\'t fault the Saints for standing pat on the offensive side of the ball. I mean, how can you question that stratagy?

The defense was a different story. Instead of going after proven players Haslett gambled and brought in unproven players. That gamble did not pay off and neither did bringing in aging veterans.

Once again we sit here and wonder what the organization see\'s as the problem areas and wonder who they will sign to address those problems. I think the good thing is Haslett knows bringing in unproven players is too risky. At least that\'s what logic would suggest.

In all fairness to Haslett, injuries did hurt the defense to some degree. Also, this unit had a LOT of new faces. Maybe, just maybe, this defense is only a couple of key players away from being a dominant unit. And, maybe the right moves will be made this year in the free agent market and the draft.

Last year I felt confident the team would be vastly improved. The disappointment is slowly wearing off and once again I\'m feeling optimistic about our chances.

Let\'s hope that the Saints, for once, will be the big winners in the free agent market. I believe this year is going to be different!! Why? Cause I think Haslett has learned his lesson and they are going to be serious about making a run to the Super Bowl.

[Edited on 30/1/2004 by BillyC]
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Old 01-30-2004, 12:57 PM   #3
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If the past free agency years are any indication of what this year will be like, don\'t expect any big names coming to New Orleans. The Saints have a big habit bringing in unproven, has-beens, never-was, and never-will-be players. That\'s not negativity....That\'s reality. If they make the NECESSARY moves, then I\'ll start becoming a little more excited about it. Until then, I\'m right there on the pessimistic side of the fence.
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