When you think of the New Orleans Saints, you think of a pass-first team that can’t play defense. You think of a team that’s basically forced to outscore teams nearly every single time they step on the field. 2012 was certainly no ordinary season for the Saints after Bountygate, but their problems on defense and on the ground were greatly illustrated, regardless of the circumstances.
To me, it’s pretty simple – the Saints will not win another Super Bowl until they evolve as a team. Even before Bountygate, the Saints seemed to reach their peak. Since their Super Bowl victory, the franchise has been on a steady decline. Fans can only hope that last year’s 7-9 record was hitting bottom, and that it’s as low as the team will get.
But when you put the league’s worst defense on the field, and your run game is also lower-tier, bad things will happen.
All of this goes to show just how good Drew Brees really is. You can only imagine how bad the Saints would be without him, but at the same time, he can only do so much. Fans won’t want to hear it, but Brees is entering a stage in his career where he could start to decline as well. He’s 34-years old now, and he won’t keep putting up ridiculous numbers forever.
This all adds up to necessary changes in New Orleans. Starting with free agency and then the draft, the Saints must reload their franchise with talent on defense. Nearly all mock drafts have the team taking a defensive player in round one, and that is undoubtedly the right call.
At the same time, they will have to hope running back Mark Ingram will continue to evolve into the player he was pegged to be coming out of college. He’s shown potential over his first two seasons, rushing for 1,076 yards and 10 touchdowns, while splitting time with several other backs. If Ingram can take the next step in 2013, it will go along way towards balancing the Saints as a team.
All in all, New Orleans isn’t too far way from being back in legitimate playoff contention with just a few solid moves and adjustments this off-season.