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2013 NFL Preview: New Orleans Saints

by Photo of Kenneth Teape

With Sean Payton back in the fold the Saints should be as dangerous as they were before last season.

2013 NFL Preview: New Orleans Saints

The NFL Season is getting closer and closer. The Baltimore Ravens took home the Super Bowl last year, but this next season will surely come with plenty of surprises. It's time to get ready for the start of the year by taking a look at all 32 teams to gauge where they are, starting with the worst and ending with the reigning Super Bowl Champs. It's the CHARGED.fm 2013 NFL Preview, and today we're previewing the New Orleans Saints.

Last Season Season:

2012 was not a highlight season in New Orleans Saints history. The bounty program that was supposedly going on rocked the whole Saints organization. Coaches and players were suspended and changed the entire culture of the team. Where the Saints felt it the most was with head coach Sean Payton suspended for the duration of the season. Without their head man, the Saints were never able to get it going during the season and finished a disappointing, but surprising 7-9 record given the situation.

The Saints struggled last season against teams with winning records, recording only one win over a team that finished above .500 last season; they did beat the 8-8 Dallas Cowboys in overtime as well. The season could not have started much worse in New Orleans as they dropped the first four games of the season. A stretch of five wins in six games gave some hope to the distraught team but another three game losing streak finally did them in.

A big reason for the struggles was their defense, or lack thereof. The Saints defense was abysmal all season, giving up an NFL-worst 440.1 yards per game. They also surrendered 28.4 points per game, second worst in the league; seven times last season the Saints gave up 30 points or more. They also struggled to put pressure on the quarterback, registering only 26 sacks on the season.

While the defense had their struggles all season, the offense, at least through the air, looked as good as ever. Drew Brees put on an air show all season and broke Johnny Unitas’ record of consecutive games with a passing touchdown in the process. Brees’ record stands at 54, surpassing the 47 Unitas put up. (Tom Brady also broke Unitas’ record last season and his is still active with 48.) Because the Saints played from behind so often, Brees put up monster stats yet again based on often he had to pass, throwing for 5,177 yards and 43 touchdowns. He did turn the ball over more often than normal, throwing 19 interceptions and fumbling five other times.

Check out some highlights from the Saints this past season:

Brees did not get much help in the run game as the Saints ranked 25th in rushing offense with only 98.6 yards per game. Granted, the Saints did throw the ball 301 more times than they ran it, partly because of game plan but mostly because of how often they were losing and had to abandon the run game.

Offseason

Key Losses (New Team): Jermon Bushrod, OT (Chicago Bears); Sedrick Ellis, DT (Chicago Bears); Devery Henderson, WR (Washington Redskins); David Thomas, TE; Jonathan Casillas, LB (Tampa Bay Buccaneers); Scott Shanle, LB; Turk McBride, DE (Chicago Bears); Chase Daniel, QB (Kansas City Chiefs); Elbert Mack, CB; Chris Ivory, RB (New York Jets)

Key Additions (Old Team): Keenan Lewis, CB (Pittsburgh Steelers); Jason Smith, OT (New York Jets); Benjamin Watson, TE (Cleveland Browns); Kenyon Coleman, DE (Dallas Cowboys); Victor Butler, LB (Dallas Cowboys); Chris Carr, CB (San Diego Chargers); Jim Leonhard, S (Denver Broncos); Luke McCown, QB (Atlanta Falcons); Seneca Wallace, QB (Cleveland Browns)

Players Re-Signed: Junior Galette, LB; Brian De La Puente, C; Will Herring, LB; Justin Drescher, LS; Ramon Humber, LB; Courtney Roby, WR

Players Drafted: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas; Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff; John Jenkins, DT, Georgia; Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma; Rufus Johnson, DE, Tarleton State

The Saints were back in the draft this year after being shut out last season and made a solid pick in Vaccaro. He will step right in and get playing time right away as he cannot be any worse than the players they had out there last season. The only question about the pick is that Jarvis Jones was available at 15 and he would have filled another need that possibly was more pressing than getting a safety. Armstead filled another need position but he needs time to develop still and may not be able to help much right away. Jenkins looks like he could be a big steal for the Saints and was thought to be a first round pick by some people.

Season Outlook:

The Saints look like a perfect bounce back team. They will have their head coach back on the sidelines which should automatically improve them across the board; having that continuity is something they missed last year.

The offense should once again be dynamic as Brees is one of the best in the business as what he does. He has tons of weapons surrounding him in Marques Colston, Darren Sproles, Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore. Adding Stills and TE Benjamin Watson to that group just gives Brees more weapons to use. If the Saints can ever get the running game going it could make this offense even better, which is hard to believe; having Pierre Thomas in the fold right from the start will help. Mark Ingram has disappointed since the Saints drafted him but they look intent on giving him every chance to become a serviceable NFL player.

The Saints will have a new look on defense this season as they are switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense; unlike some teams that are doing this and stand to get worse, the Saints can’t get any worse on defense so why not change it up to see if they can get something going? The problem for the Saints on defense is that they did not get pressure on the quarterback, putting immense pressure on the defensive backfield. The Saints were beyond bad up the middle so adding Vaccaro at safety is a big upgrade. They will still see their struggles but they should also see some improvement at the same time.

With Payton back coaching the team the Saints should see improvement on defense and special teams and continued greatness on offense, at least in the passing game. The Saints look like a playoff team again and will challenge the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South Division title.

Let CHARGED.fm find you the best New Orleans Saints tickets all season!


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