Every season I begin optimistic, as are many of the fans from the other 31 NFL teams. The dream of lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy in Minnesota in February is on everyone’s mind at the beginning of week one. As a Saints fan I loved hearing the comments from Adrian Peterson last week saying that we want to start and finish the season in Minnesota. He clearly has a trip to the Super Bowl in mind. A lot had to happen in the Saints off-season for this to happen. The changes the fans were calling for last season were beginning to happen. New coaches for the line backers, defensive line and the secondary. This was key as I believe the message was getting stale from the coaches who were there for so long. Maybe the new blood will inject some energy into the leagues worst defence for the past two seasons…
The Saints also made some roster changes. Brandon Cooks was traded to the New England Patriots. It seemed strange to see Sean Payton trade his best receiver away, but you could tell that Cooks wasn’t happy in New Orleans anymore. He may have become a distraction in the locker room just like Jimmy Graham was before he got traded to Seattle. The Saints replaced Cooks with Ted Ginn Jnr from the panthers and left the number 1 receiver spot to Michael Thomas who had an amazing rookie season. The leagues worst defence also got some new faces with AJ Klein following Ginn from the Panthers to New Orleans and Manti Te’o from the LA Chargers to give the poor line backing core a much needed boost.
In the draft every Saints fans was screaming for a pass rusher. However when Marshon Lattimore was still on the board when the Saints came to pick he was too good to pass up on. In the Cooks trade the Saints also picked up the 32nd pick from the Patriots. The Saints picked Ryan Ramczyk the right tackle from Wisconsin to be the long term replacement to Zach Strief. However during training camp Ramczyk was asked to move to left tackle to replace the injured Terron Armstead; this was a huge blow to the team as he can’t seem to get on the field after signing a big contract with the Saints.
Other notable pickups in the draft were exciting running back Alvin Kamara to add to Ingram and AP in the running back room. Alex Anzalone was added to the new Line backing core. And Marcus Williams (Safety) and Trey Hendrickson (Defensive end) into their new look defence.
So far so good. New coaches and new blood within the defence and a promising training camp, created some hype in the New Orleans media. Everyone wanted to see what the defence would do in an actual game. They didn’t disappoint as we got through preseason with them not conceding a single point in eight quarters of football. Am I allowed to get excited yet? We saw the defence find an extra gear and the pass rushing was much better. There wasn’t too many missed tackles and the team were creating turnovers. For the first time in two years the Saints weren’t 0-4 in preseason. They finished a respectable 2-2 and the defence was ranked 2nd in preseason.
Could this be it, have the saints finally fixed their Defence?
Going into the Monday night opener I knew it was going to be a hard start to the season and it wouldn’t get any easier with New England coming to Louisiana. Then an NFC south game in Carolina followed by the Dolphins in London. If the Saints can come out 2-2 I think most fans will be happy with the start going into their bye in week five.
I think the defence has improved this season and may even move into the top 20. With Drew Brees as your QB you are always going to put points on the board. I can see the New Orleans Saints going 10-6 or 9-7 this year, which would be a much improved record from the last few seasons where we went 7-9.