It’s fair to give the New Orleans Saints a pass last year after being torpedoed by BountyGate, but there were still many serious issues lingering over the years that only came to head in 2012.
Boasting the league’s worst defense sounded the alarm for this organization and they went right to addressing it, at long last, this offseason. New Orleans brought in excellent-if-emphatic defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to help shore things up along with spending their first-rounder on safety Kenny Vaccaro. They further showed seriousness in addressing this defensive unit by adding blossoming young cornerback Keenan Lewis via free agency.
The Saints let some less-necessary parts walk in Jermon Bushrod and Chris Ivory among others, but Drew Brees can cover up plenty of deficiencies — and the RB spot is already stacked.
Return of Saints head coach and offensive mastermind Sean Payton almost makes this team’s stock trend up automatically.
“Even in the years following (2009) up until last year, we were able to win a lot of games and keep opponents off balance,” Payton said, via the NFL. “I thought last year, especially in the early quarter of the season, we were talking about a team that was last in the league in defense and rushing. There were a lot of things we weren’t doing well.”
“I think we have the position group and the personnel to be effective running the football … It helps the quarterback’s production by helping him become more efficient and you become a better defense. It also helps you control games when you want to. There are times in games when you want to have control, and when you are able to rush the football you have a little bit better sense of that than if you are not able to.”
Stock Up or Down? The return of Payton and renewed emphasis on defense put New Orleans right back in the division title hunt.