Despite their disappointing 23-15 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Round, the New Orleans Saints still put together a fairly good and respectable season. New Orleans finished 11-5 in the regular season, went undefeated at home in the Super Dome and snagged their first road playoff victory.
All in all, not a bad season for the Saints and Who Dat Nation.
There were some negatives, of course, as no NFL season can be perfect—unless you are the 1972 Miami Dolphins, that is. New Orleans struggled mightily on the road at times and finished with a 3-5 record whilst traveling. Many said that the Saints were just a different team when they were away from their dome, and at times it certainly seemed like it. The cold weather win against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round of the playoffs did alleviate some of those concerns, however.
Then there was the issue of the running game at certain points throughout the season. With a handful of running backs, touches were split between Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and at times, Travaris Cadet and Khiry Robinson. Cadet and Robinson showed promise the few times they were able to carry the ball, Thomas was reliable as the team’s leading rusher and Sproles did his thing. Ingram, on the other hand, struggled often in the beginning of the season, but after his breakout performance against the Dallas Cowboys, he seemed to be playing with passion and enthusiasm.
New Orleans once again fielded an offense that was potent and quarterback Drew Brees once again surpassed 5,000 yards passing. That makes it the fourth time Brees has accomplished that feat, and the third consecutive season he has done so. Brees and the offense were another top offense, producing over 6,000 yards and over 400 points. Again, not too bad.
Most notable, however, was the defensive turnaround led by new coordinator Rob Ryan. After being undeservedly scapegoated and let go by the Cowboys the previous season, Ryan was able to turn a dismal defensive effort just a season ago into one of the top rated defenses in the entire league. The sky is the limit for the defense going forward as far as I’m concerned.
So weep not, Saints fans. New Orleans is still a pretty solid team, and there is always next season.