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WhoDat!656 04-16-2013 07:08 PM

State of the Team: New Orleans Saints


Thereís no Bountygate turmoil, no Sean Payton suspension, and no Drew Brees contract distraction hindering the Saints heading into 2013. The expectations are this offense will return to its high-flying form. Statistically, it wasnít far off from that form in 2012. However, inopportune turnovers, mild week-to-week instability in the passing game and knowing they had to compensate for one of the worst defenses in history all seemed to compromise this offenseís flow. As long as Brees is under center, the Saints are dangerous. The question is: how dangerous? New Orleansís resources in the passing game have quietly been altered over the past two years.


QB: Drew Brees, Luke McCown; Lost: Chase Daniel

RB: Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, Jed Collins (FB)

Brees processes information from the pocket as adroitly as anyone in the game. Still, like almost every quarterback, heís better off when the run game is lending his offense balance. Thomas, with his inside/outside abilities and steadiness in the short-area passing game, is New Orleansí most well-rounded back. He's solid in all facets, spectacular in none. Sproles, with his speed and quickness, is New Orleansí most dangerous back. Defenses often play nickel when heís on the field, even if the Saints are using base personnel or a six-man offensive line. When Ingram came out of Alabama, conventional wisdom said that he needed a high volume of carries in order to be effective. If thatís the case, heís on the wrong team. With all their backfield weapons, the Saints canít afford to give him more than 10-12 touches a game, especially once you consider that Ivory is a more dynamic player than Ingram. However, Ivory is a restricted free agent, so there's a chance he won't be here by the time training camp rolls around.


WR: Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Joseph Morgan, Chris Givens, Courtney Roby; Lost: Devery Henderson

TE: Jimmy Graham, Benjamin Watson, Mike Higgins; Lost: David Thomas

Thanks to injuries and an offensive line that badly needed help, Graham too often failed to be featured in the game plan last season. That has to change in 2013.

Being featured in the Saints passing attack usually means lining up inside. Thatís where Colston does the vast majority of his damage. (Outside, a lack of speed and quickness are hard for Colston to overcome.) Moore is a fantastic puzzle piece. However, heís not a straight-line vertical threat like the Saints had with Henderson or, two years ago, Robert Meachem. Thatís what makes Morgan intriguing. He has enough speed to be a big-time factor in this system (which could include simply stretching the defense as a decoy), but thereís no guarantee he will blossom. Rounding out the depth, Givens is an unknown, while losing Thomas will hurt at tight end. He was an integral asset in base sets. His replacement, Watson, no longer has the necessary initial quickness to be effective.


LT: Charles Brown LG: Ben Grubbs C: Brian De La Puente RG: Jahri Evans RT: Zach Strief

Backups: G Eric Olsen, OT Jason Smith; Lost: LT Jermon Bushrod, OT Willie Robinson

Brown has fantastic athleticism but itís concerning that he wasnít able to secure a starting job over his first three years. Itís not like he was stuck playing behind irreplaceable tackles. In fact, the man who beat him out on the right side is one of the shakiest pass-blockers in the league. Too often, this offense got killed the second it stopped giving Strief chip-block and double-team help. Inside, Evans is a stud and Grubbs can move people in the run game. The guard position is more critical than the tackle position in this offense because of the unique way Brees, who lacks height, drops back and reads the field while moving in the pocket.


When Gregg Williams and his Łber-aggressive scheme disappeared, the whole world found out what had miraculously been kept mostly under wraps the past several years: the Saints defense stinks. It simply lacks good players, particularly along the front four. This was exposed when Steve Spagnuolo installed the zone-based scheme that had been so well-regarded when he was in New York. Unfortunately, this scheme relied more on player talent than Williamsí scheme had, and the Saints just didn't have the horses. When Sean Payton returned from suspension in January, the decision was made to install a whole new 3-4 system. Spagnuolo was fired and Rob Ryan was eventually brought in. Ryan, like Payton, has a thick and aggressive playbook. Heís a free-shooter who does not like to get tied up in details. Will his style be able to compensate for a unit that is still severely limited in many key areas?


DE: Cameron Jordan, Kenyon Coleman, Tom Johnson, Tyrunn Walker, Greg Romeus; Lost: Turk McBride
DT: Brodrick Bunkley, Akiem Hicks; Lost: Sedrick Ellis

Weíll say the jury is out on Jordan because thereís a chance that the lethargic, disappointing 2011 first-round pick will find his niche as a five-technique fighter. The same kind of hope can be held out for Johnson, though as a 28-year-old fringe veteran, he has a lot less natural talent to work with. The signing of Coleman at least brought some insurance into the fold. Inside, Hicks showed promising growth last season. Can that growth continue with more two-gap assignments? And, can the veteran Bunkley, a longtime 4-3 plugger, hold ground consistently as a nose tackle?


OLB: Will Smith, Martez Wilson, Junior Galette, Victor Butler; Lost: Scott Shanle

ILB: Curtis Lofton, Jonathan Vilma, David Hawthorne, Ramon Humber, Will Herring; Lost: Jonathan Casillas
Itís possible all of these guys will work out in the new scheme. Itís also possible none of them will work out. Smith will be considered the key piece by most analysts, but in reality, Wilson and Galette are much more important. Both are young and have flashed explosiveness in small doses off the edge. Smith, on the other hand, will be 32 in Week 1 and has fewer than seven sacks in each of his past three seasons. His greatest strength has always been run defense, but itís unlikely heíll be as viable in space outside as he was operating out of a three-point stance. If he hadn't agreed to a pay cut, he probably wouldnít still be around. (Heíll cost over $10 million in 2014, which means this is likely his last year in New Orleans.)

Inside, Lofton can take on blocks and allow Vilma to stay clean and run free as much as possible. In theory. No matter how stout Lofton might be, though, the geometry of most 3-4 concepts often does not allow for clean inside linebackers. Remember, a younger Vilma struggled noticeably in a 3-4 scheme under Eric Mangini in New York.


CB: Jabari Greer, Keenan Lewis, Patrick Robinson, Corey White; Lost: Elbert Mack

S: Malcolm Jenkins, Roman Harper, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Rafael Bush
Most of Ryanís scheme hinges on the secondary being able to hold up in man coverage. Greer has always been solid in this sense, but heís now in his 30s and has recently had a little trouble staying healthy. Lewis was very good in his debut season as a starter with Pittsburgh last year. However, he almost never had to face No. 1 wideouts. Overall, Robinson is average in a complicated way; he can be very good on one down and outright awful on another. (This is called inconsistency.) Jenkins can cover most tight ends and even some wideouts man-to-man, which Ryan needs in a safety. Harper is essentially a linebacker who must not get caught downfield in space.

K: Garrett Hartley P: Thomas Morstead
Morstead is coming off the best year of his career; he's better on punts than kickoffs. Hartley is one of the rare kickers who has been fairly consistent on field goals, but that's not a good thing. He's never had a year with above-average performance.

Full article: FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | State of the Team: New Orleans Saints

darstep 04-16-2013 07:39 PM

Re: State of the Team: New Orleans Saints
Lots of new puzzle pieces to account for this season.
A whole lot of good luck has to go along with all the hardwork.
We have to get a few bounces our way and have a couple, or three, or five
of our 2nd tier guys surprise us with their top shelf performances.
I'm excited...but it's early, so I'll just keep the volume turned down.

homerj07 04-16-2013 07:54 PM

Re: State of the Team: New Orleans Saints
Still not sure what team we field this year. We have got to have a better D

TheOak 04-16-2013 07:55 PM

Re: State of the Team: New Orleans Saints

saintsfan1976 04-16-2013 07:56 PM

Re: State of the Team: New Orleans Saints

Originally Posted by TheOak (Post 494785)

Pissed off

Danno 04-16-2013 09:30 PM

Re: State of the Team: New Orleans Saints

We’ll say the jury is out on Jordan because there’s a chance that the lethargic, disappointing 2011 first-round pick will find his niche as a five-technique fighter.

And, can the veteran Bunkley, a longtime 4-3 plugger, hold ground consistently as a nose tackle?

His (Will Smith) greatest strength has always been run defense

Morstead is coming off the best year of his career; he's better on punts than kickoffs
Uhhh WTF???

alexonfyre 04-16-2013 10:08 PM

Re: State of the Team: New Orleans Saints
So, can we talk about Rafael Bush? He looked pretty good last year in limited time...does anyone else think he may be able to step up for The Neck in the dime package?

Luda34 04-16-2013 10:37 PM

Re: State of the Team: New Orleans Saints
I really wish we get a safety and a nice size corner in the draft.

Luda34 04-16-2013 10:39 PM

Re: State of the Team: New Orleans Saints
I can see Devery Henderson coming back to the Saints soon as one of our WR go down.

Rell&Gold 04-16-2013 10:55 PM

Re: State of the Team: New Orleans Saints

Originally Posted by Danno (Post 494813)
Uhhh WTF???

Im glad somebody saw what I saw

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