Here we are, in the dead of the off-season, waiting for September 9th to come our way so the Saints can start a new conquest to win the Superbowl.
Except this time, it’s different. The Saints are entering the new season at the top of the league, as defending Superbowl champs, rather than as the bottom-feeders they are so accustomed to being.
Many sports analysts are writing the Saints off for the 2010 season because of the alleged Superbowl hangover.
For justification all you have to do is look at last year’s Steelers after they went 9-7 and failed to make the playoffs after a spectacular comeback victory in Superbowl XLIII.
So why is there any reason to believe that the 2010 New Orleans Saints will be any better than the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers? Here’s why:
The Saints are returning 20 of 22 starters from last year’s team-Typically, Superbowl champions have many key contributors picked off their rosters as a result of the players’ new found fame. These players often become over hyped and thus choose to move on to other teams in search of more lucrative contracts.
In this case, however, the Saints have only lost two starters from their 2009 team; and those two starters were not key contributors.
Scott Fujitawas a solid linebacker for the Saints, but he was getting up there in age and was injured during much of the season. The addition of Clint Ingram; who will compete with Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Jonathan Casillas, and Stanley Arnoux for the starting strong-side linebacker spot; should prevent any drop-off in production.
Ingram, a fifth year pro from the University of Oklahoma, has tons of potential that he never managed to display in Jacksonville.
Ingram is strictly a strong-side linebacker in a 4-3 defense as he struggled mightily when the Jaguars tinkered with a 3-4 style defense.
Now that he is returning to the Gregg Williams run 4-3 defense in New Orleans, he should be able to live up to the hype that surrounded him when he was first drafted by the Jaguars.
Charles Grant has not been the most productive Saint — he could not even get motivated while playing for a team that would eventually start 13-0 —accounting for a mere 5.5 sacks last season.
Grant was also responsible for many of the cutback runs that plagued the Saints throughout the year, he failed to get leverage at the point of attack and thus forced the Saints’ linebackers to overpursue beyond the line of scrimmage to allow big break way runs.
Thankfully, the Saints released Grant who was grossly overpaid for such little production, and brought in two seasoned veterans in Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson.
In fact, the two additions that the Saints made are an upgrade rather than a downgrade from Grant.