2016 NFL Preview: New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints had a hell of an off-season these last few months. There were rumors that they were going to fire their head coach, but then they didn’t. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about a football organization that has gone from winning Super Bowls to fighting among themselves. But what about this season though? What should we expect from the Saints on the football field?

Can Drew Brees catapult the Saints back into Super Bowl contention before his career is over?

Is Sean Payton’s time with New Orleans really up?

Can the defense improve at all after having one of the worst years in Saints history?

Let’s find out!

 

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New Orleans Saints

The Stats:

Record Last Ten Seasons: 7-9 (2015), 7-9 (2014), 11-5 (2013), 7-9 (2012), 13-3 (2011), 11-5 (2010), 13-3 (2009), 8-8 (2008), 7-9 (2007), 10-6 (2006)

Last Playoff Appearance: 2013 Divisional vs. Seattle Seahawks

Last Playoff Win: 2013 Wildcard vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl Titles Won: 1 (Super Bowl XLIV)

Passing Leader for 2015: Drew Brees (4,870 yards, 32 touchdowns, 11 interceptions)

Rushing Leader for 2015: Mark Ingram (769 yards, 6 touchdowns)

Receiving Leader for 2015: Brandin Cooks (1,138 yards, 9 touchdowns)

The Head Coach:

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Sean Payton

Overall Record (as a head coach): 87-57

Record With Team: 87-57

Previous NFL Jobs: Philadelphia Eagles Quarterbacks Coach (1997-1998), New York Giants Quarterbacks Coack (1999), New York Giants Offensive Coordinator (2000-2002), Dallas Cowboys Assistant Head Coach and Quarterbacks Coach (2003-2005)

My Grade: B+

The Team:

(Depth Charts will change as training camps progress obviously….)

Player Grade Guide:

Blue = Elite Player

Green = Really Good Player

Orange = Average Player

Pink = Meh

Red = NO THANKS

Gray = Rookie

Offense:

QB: Drew Brees

RB: Mark Ingram

FB: John Kuhn

WR: Brandin Cooks

WR: Willie Snead

TE: Coby Fleener

OC: Max Unger

OG: Tim Lelito

OG: Andrus Peat

OT: Zach Strief

OT: Terron Armstead

Defense:

DE: Cameron Jordan

DT: Tyeler Davison

DT: Nick Fairley

DE: Kasim Edebali

LB: Stephone Anthony

LB: Dannell Ellerbe

LB: James Laurinaitis

CB: Delvin Breaux

CB: P.J. Williams

SS: Kenny Vaccaro

FS: Jairus Byrd

The Schedule:

vs. Oakland Raiders (September 11)

vs. @ New York Giants (September 18)

vs. Atlanta Falcons (September 26)

vs. @ San Diego Chargers (October 2)

BYE WEEK

vs. Carolina Panthers (October 16)

vs. @ Kansas City Chiefs (October 23)

vs. Seattle Seahawks (October 30)

vs. @ San Francisco 49ers (November 6)

vs. Denver Broncos (November 13)

vs. @ Carolina Panthers (November 17)

vs. Los Angeles Rams (November 27)

vs. Detroit Lions (December 4)

vs. @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (December 11)

vs. @ Arizona Cardinals (December 18)

vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (December 24)

vs. @ Atlanta Falcons (January 1)

The Prediction:

8-8

Brief Synopsis:

The New Orleans Saints have been a mess of an organization the last few years. After experiencing a nice run from 2009-2013 (that included a Super Bowl run), the Saints have struggled to get back into playoff contention the last few seasons. Not only that, but the organization itself has become completely dysfunctional again. After firing defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in the middle of the season last year, the Saints almost fired their head coach Sean Payton this past off-season. As a matter of fact, it was widely expected that the Saints and Payton were going to go their opposite ways as a mutual parting was expected. That’s usually a sign that a team is looking to hit the reset button and start over again. But somehow, someway, it didn’t happen. Sean Payton is still the head coach of the New Orleans Saints and now he’s looking to get the team back into playoff contention this season so we aren’t left with another off-season of “Will the Saints fire Sean Payton?” questions. Will New Orleans be able to pull it off this year? Let’s take a closer look.

The offense is easily the strength of this New Orleans team. Drew Brees is the ageless wonder and even though he may be 58 years old, he’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and has showed little signs of slowing down. I do worry that we could see some signs this season, but for the sake of Saints fans, they’d better hope not because they’ll need him badly. As for the rest of the Saints offensive weapons, they are OK. Mark Ingram is a decent NFL running back, but he’s not one of the elite guys at the position. Brandin Cooks has quickly become one of the most exciting wide receivers to watch in the league and Willie Snead had a surprisingly good season last year and he could capitalize on that this year. I’m not too worried about the Saints on offense to be honest with you. I think new tight end Coby Fleener will have the best year of his career and the offensive line should continue to improve as well. If the Saints make the playoffs this year, you can thank these guys.

On defense though, the Saints are dreadful. They had one of the worst defenses in the league last year and it doesn’t look like things will be any better this season. New Orleans has a crap ton of holes in their front seven and arguably have one of the worst in the league. If it wasn’t for Cameron Jordan (who is amazing) and Nick Fairley, these guys would be horrific. The Saints linebacker corp might be the worst in the NFL to. They don’t have a quality starter anywhere and it amazes me that they haven’t tried to bring in better upgrades than an over-the-hill player like Lauranaitis. The strength of the Saints defense will easily come in the secondary. Delvin Breaux was a surprise last season. The Saints brought the former CFL player into the league and he was easily their best defensive player last season. It will be interesting to see if he can continue that going. Everywhere else in the secondary is OK, but New Orleans would really benefit if another corner could step their game up this year. If this defense is going to see any improvement this season, these guys will need to improve even more.

So, what should we expect from the Saints this year? I think we are going to get a very average team that could flirt with a playoff spot, but will likely fall just outside. The offense is pretty good and if they do make the playoffs, it will likely be because of these guys. I fully expect the Saints to have one of the worst defenses in the league again this year so if you’re expecting big things from this team as a Saints fan….curb your enthusiasm. The Saints are still a lot of defensive players away from being contenders in the NFL. That doesn’t mean that they can’t come up and surprise some people this season though.

2 thoughts on “2016 NFL Preview: New Orleans Saints

  1. Pingback: Casual Fan Preview: NFC South – The Ultimate Sports Blog

  2. Pingback: Full NFL Coverage – The Ultimate Sports Blog

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