With offensive mastermind head Coach Sean Payton back from a yearlong suspension and quarterback Drew Brees returning to the saddle, New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is not short on confidence. Nor should he be, given that he was hardly cover-able even during the offensively disjointed, injury riddled 2012 campaign.
“Drew and I are already in midseason form. … Right now, we’re more dynamic offensively than we’ve ever been,” Graham said after a recent practice, via USA TODAY Sports.
This is good, because in 2012 the Saints weren’t in “midseason form” until pretty much midseason. New Orleans, the perennial Super Bowl contender, lost their first four games before winning five of their next six. Unfortunately, the losses piled up early eventually caught up to them.
The offense accrued an incredible amount of yards — with Brees breaking the single-season passing yards record — but something just felt off about them. Much of that offense was also a product of playing behind thanks to bad defense and a shockingly uncharacteristic tendency to turn the ball over, putting them in catch-up mode. Brees would tie for the league lead in picks last year with Tony Romo at 19.
Graham never seemed quite right either, playing through a mix of nagging injuries including a wrist issue, which many speculate to have been broken. He’s now looking very healthy in practice, and the last hurdle Graham has is route-running and being the right position, as you could see Brees and coaches yelling at Graham for making mistakes in those areas last season. New Orleans signed vet Ben Watson in a seeming attempt to help mentor the young, extremely talented Graham.
“Ben has been a great addition, better than I could have expected to this point,” Brees said. “Not only his veteran presence helping Jimmy, but all the good tight ends have to have the ability to block, run routes, separate, catch the ball, make plays after the catch. Ben has all those attributes. He was a great find for us. We’re lucky to have him.”