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-   -   Saints may hit stride this season.... (http://blackandgold.com/saints/9576-saints-may-hit-stride-season.html)

Saints4Life 07-27-2005 10:13 AM

Saints may hit stride this season....
 
I don't know if this was already posted but this article seemed to be a very positive one.....

Saints may hit stride this season
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Peter Finney

You like Roman numerals?
OK.
For the NFL, the march to Super Bowl XL has begun.

For Saints fans who've been there from beginning, it's a march into Year XXXVIII.

For Jim Haslett, Coach of the Year as a rookie in 2000, it's a march into Season VI.

And, for Tom Benson, the owner, it's a march to . . . well, your guess is as good as mine.

You might recall that the most biting broadside leveled at the 2004 Saints did not come from any member of the media.

It came from Mr. Tom himself as he stepped from an elevator in the Superdome last November to render an assessment of the football team that had lost 34-13 to the Denver Broncos.

"They looked like high school kids," said Mr. Tom, in no mood to boogie.

The Saints would go on to prove they were better than that, winning their final four games to finish 8-8 but missing the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

And now?

Now, we're moving across a bridge over troubled waters, with no idea what suspended negotiations between the owner and the governor might produce as far as the Saints future is concerned, wondering how a good year, or another bad one, might affect the future.

Concentrating on the football team, we know this: The 2005 Saints, now marching under the banner of "You Gotta Have Faith," are good enough to have a winning season and make the playoffs.

Why do I say this? Because I'm looking at the schedule, and other than a November road game against the defending champion New England Patriots, the point can be made that Haslett's team will not be in over its head.

What about road games against the Vikings, Packers, Jets and Rams? Sure, the Saints could lose all four, but none of the four is a stem-winder. Put it this way: It's not like visiting the Colts, Steelers, Broncos and Eagles.

This year, with out-of-division foes like the Giants, Bills, Dolphins, Bears and Lions coming into the Superdome, the Saints have the schedule to cash in at home.

Yes, but what about the NFC South?

Why do the pundits pick the Saints to finish no higher than third, behind the Falcons and Panthers, in their division?

Because they've played like a classic roller-coaster team, at home as well as on the road. It doesn't mean Carolina and Atlanta are that much better. It means, over a season, they've been better coached, gotten more out of their personnel.

Look at recent history inside the Saints' division. Three years ago, when Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl, the Saints beat the Bucs home and away. Two years ago, when Carolina lost the Super Bowl, the Saints lost one to the Panthers in overtime, lost another by six points.

A year ago, when the Falcons came within a victory of the Super Bowl, the Saints faced Michael Vick only once, but in that meeting, the worst defense in the league held the most feared runner in the league to one touchdown and 69 yards in a 24-21 loss. With 12 minutes left, the Saints led by four but could not make the plays at crunch time.

Proving?

When it comes to the Saints, and the NFC South, it's not a question of a talent gap. It's a question of discipline, making plays under fire, with the game on the line.

This cuts both ways, offense as well as defense.

Consider: Last season, in the first quarter of their first 12 games, the Saints were outscored 97-10.

And now?

And now, aside from the schedule, an 8-8 team has its key people back on offense. It has Aaron Brooks, Deuce McAllister and Joe Horn, with a line featuring a No. 1 pick and a key free agent at the tackles, which should mean more daylight for Deuce.

Will it?

Defensively, if you believe the coaches, it's like a bunch of sophomores and juniors becoming seniors, ready to prove that what you saw at the end of the season -- four victories, three on the road -- is what you'll see beginning with Game 1.

That will be Sept. 11, at Carolina, Aaron Brooks vs. Jake Delhomme. We'll see if someone, maybe two Saints, will be able to keep Julius Peppers from tackling Deuce before he gets the ball.

We'll see if Haslett's defense will be able to do a job on Jake Delhomme, who threw for 17 TDs with four picks in his last eight games but failed in a closing effort against the Saints.

In preseason, it's all talk the talk.

Beginning Sept. 11, it becomes a question of walking the walk.

The 2005 Saints have the talent, and the schedule, to walk into the postseason.

We'll leave it at that.

LordOfEntropy 07-27-2005 10:53 AM

RE: Saints may hit stride this season....
 
The thing is though, every team is thinking they just might hit stride, this time of the season. Preseason always brings expectations up.

For us, I see a possibility, but a slim one, no more than that. I predict we'll finish second or third in the division this year.

What is Vegas putting us at? They're usually not wrong....

4saintspirit 07-27-2005 10:58 AM

I have to agree with Lord. It gets very hard to keep getting excited -- I see areas where we may improve but to be honest I find it hard to believe we will magically become consistent or eliminate the stupid penalties and mistakes. But -- I have to say I am getting very excited about the season --- I am tired of baseball

papz 07-27-2005 11:24 AM

It's all about selling season tickets around this time.

Euphoria 07-27-2005 11:32 AM

hey we waited 38 years... whats another 38 lol.

Euphoria 07-27-2005 12:21 PM

I seriously can't see the Panthers or Falcon's winning the division this year.

papz 07-27-2005 12:25 PM

I see the Panthers winning the Superbowl.

saintswhodi 07-27-2005 12:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Euphoria
I seriously can't see the Panthers or Falcon's winning the division this year.

It must be the Falcons going to the NFC champ game or the Panthers to the Superbowl two years ago throwing you off huh? Couple that with our recent run at mediocrity and the Bucs fall into disarray, I could see how this divison would appear wide open. :?

Euphoria 07-27-2005 01:01 PM

Panthers over the Colts... I don't think so. You also have to look at the schedule... I guess it'll change a lot of peoples reality whenthey are 0-4 to start the season.

I don't think the Falcons or Panthers are the same teams... every year is different. I feel they had a little luck riding on there side those years. I think its going to be a team people or under-estimating this year that rises to the NFC game.

saintswhodi 07-27-2005 01:17 PM

But you said you couldn't see them winning the division even. Did you mean the conference?


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