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SmashMouth 12-31-2012 08:45 AM

Drew Brees promises 'It's on' when New Orleans Saints return to work in 2013
 
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1. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Saints quarterback Drew Brees wasn't able to put an optimistic spin on the Saints' performance Sunday - or on much of anything that occurred in 2012. But he did offer a fiery quote while looking ahead to starting fresh in 2013.

"This offseason can't come fast enough, I'll tell you that right now," Brees said. "The time off is going to be good for everyone as it always is. Refresh, get your bodies right, get yourself mentally ready. Because when we come back in April, it's on."

That mental desire no doubt will be there for the Saints, especially when Coach Sean Payton returns. But Brees was also asked to describe some of the ways the offense can be better.

"Be more efficient," Brees said, before highlighting some specific areas. "We'll evaluate ourselves and say, 'Man, we could have been better on third down.' We were top six or seven in the league (actually fourth at 44 percent heading into Sunday night's game). But we broke the NFL record last year (at 56.7 percent). I like to think we're closer to that.

"Our ability to run the football really picked up in the second half of the season, but that's something we can continue to fine-tune. ... And turnovers, starting with yours truly. I got to hold myself accountable. Those have to come down, and I understand that, and I'm going to do my best to fix that. Each one of us has things we can improve."

2. BREES' NUMBERS

Indeed, Brees finished with the most interceptions in the NFL this year by throwing his 19th in the third quarter Sunday. But he also led the league with a whopping 5,177 yards and 43 touchdown passes. He would have shattered Dan Marino's single-season passing record this year if he hadn't already done so last year with 5,476 yards.

Brees now owns three of the top five passing yardage seasons in NFL history (5,069 in 2008).

He also tied the NFL record for most season leading the NFL in touchdown passes with four (joining Johnny Unitas, Len Dawson, Steve Young and Brett Favre).

3. COLSTON CONNECTION

Brees' longtime go-to guy, Marques Colston, caught five passes for 52 yards and two touchdowns Sunday - tying him with Eric Martin for the Saints' franchise record with 532 career receptions.

Earlier this year, Colston already set the franchise record for career touchdowns. He now has 58 - all of which have come from Brees passes. Those 58 touchdowns rank ninth in NFL history among quarterback-receiver duos.

Saints receiver Lance Moore caught four passes for 121 yards Sunday to finish with his first 1,000-yard season (1,041).

The Saints almost became the sixth team in NFL history with three 1,000-yard seasons. But tight end Jimmy Graham finished 18 yards short after catching nine passes for 115 yards.

Graham and Colston also each dropped another easy pass Sunday - continuing an ugly trend that nagged at the Saints all year.

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4. DEFENSIVE INFAMY

The Saints' defense wound up shattering the previous NFL record for yards allowed in a season by giving up another 530 to the Panthers on Sunday and finishing with 7,042. That's an unfortunate record to hang on the defense, because the unit really did show a lot of improvement - and pride - as the season went on. But they certainly proved themselves worthy of that dubious honor with one of their worst performances of the season, especially in the second half Sunday.

"You get what you deserve. You don't play good defense, that's what's going to happen. Be a man and suck it up," said Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown before the bottom dropped out in the second half. "Some games we play lights out. Other games we'll give up 44 points (and) who knows how many yards. You can't win like that in this league, and it shows."

5. THIRD DOWNERS

The Saints' defense particularly struggled on third downs Sunday, allowing Carolina to convert 10 of 16 - and some for huge gains. At one point, the Panthers were 5-of-7 on third downs with every conversion gaining at least 16 yards. Then after the controversial officials' call in the third quarter, the Saints gave up a 34-yard pass from Cam Newton to Louis Murphy on third-and-18.

6. WILLIAMS' REVIVAL

Heading into Sunday's game, Panthers tailback DeAngelo Williams was having a down year, running for 527 yards through 15 games. But he busted loose for 210 yards and two touchdowns (54 yards and 12 yards) against the Saints. He also had a 65-yard run that set up another score.

The defense had some struggles against the run at times this year, but nobody gashed them up the middle as badly or as often as Williams did Sunday. On the first long run, both linebacker Curtis Lofton and safety Isa Abdul-Quddus missed chances at an early tackle as he found a crease up the middle. Then on the second long run, Williams found another crease with a terrific cutback inside of end Turk McBride. And both safety Roman Harper and cornerback Elbert Mack didn't come close to tackling him in the open field.

7. MORSTEAD'S MISS

Among the other disappointments that took place Sunday, it was tough to see punter Thomas Morstead and the punt coverage unit fall short of the NFL record for net punting yardage in a season - which was destroyed when they allowed a 69-yard punt return in the fourth quarter.

Morstead was really fired up about the record because he said it was one the entire special teams unit took part in. And they were one quarter away.

8. DOWN AT HOME

The Saints finished 4-4 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this year (losses to Washington, Kansas City, San Francisco and Carolina). That's their worst home record since a 3-5 mark in 2007.

9. SCHEDULE (ALMOST) SET

The Saints finished in a three-way tie for second place in the NFC South with the Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But they officially ranked third in the division based on tie-breakers. That means they will fill their two open slots in their 2013 schedule against the third-place teams in the NFC East and the NFC North.

We know they'll play at the Chicago Bears and will host the Dallas Cowboys, who lost Sunday night to the Washington Redskins.

Here are all of the Saints' 2013 opponents:

HOME: Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Miami, Arizona, San Francisco, Dallas.

AWAY: Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, New England, New York Jets, St. Louis, Seattle, Chicago.

10. DRAFT SLOT, TOO

The Saints will draft somewhere between 11th and 15th next year as one of five teams that finished 7-9 (along with Carolina, Tampa Bay, the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers). The order is based on strength of schedule, which could still be affected by tonight's game. I'll update with the math shortly.

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Papa Voodoo 12-31-2012 09:47 AM

Re: Drew Brees promises 'It's on' when New Orleans Saints return to work in 2013
 
Well, we should go undefeated at home next year. We should beat the Jets. The rest are up in the air, but we should be able to go 10-6 next season if we stay healthy.

Mardigras9 12-31-2012 02:17 PM

Re: Drew Brees promises 'It's on' when New Orleans Saints return to work in 2013
 
Saints will be back with a vengence.

RaginCajun83 12-31-2012 03:00 PM

Re: Drew Brees promises 'It's on' when New Orleans Saints return to work in 2013
 
Having Sean back should count for a 3-4 win improvement but hey Drew its time for a gag order when it comes to the media, your pep talks are starting to fall on deaf ears

onebyone 12-31-2012 03:16 PM

Re: Drew Brees promises 'It's on' when New Orleans Saints return to work in 2013
 
In the words of Elvis, 'A little less conversation, a little more action please.'


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