Reasons for Failure and Hope
The Saints were hampered with poor play at numerous positions last season, which caused the fall from NFC Championship Game participants to missing the playoffs entirely. Here is a look at the positions that most affected the team in a negative manner and reasons to hope for improvement:
#2 Corner: No matter who the Saints threw out there, the person played poorly. Jason David looked like he moved from quarterback to corner for the majority of the season. Usama Young looked like a rookie. Jason Craft is serviceable as a reserve but when thrown out as a starter, he is just not very good. Fred Thomas never got to play, which is far from a complaint.
Reasons for hope: The team added three corners that could earn playing time at the position: Randall Gay, Tracy Porter, and Aaron Glenn. Jason David also has a year under his belt now under the new system. Usama Young is no longer a rookie as well.
Pass Rush: The Saints had a league-low 16 sacks as a team last season. That is just unacceptable. The value of the pass rush was shown by the way the Giants won the Super Bowl last season. Charles Grant was slowed by injury and Will Smith had a relatively sub-par season by his standards.
Reasons for hope: The team added pass-rush specialist, Bobby McCray, from Jacksonville and early reports are positive. Also, with the seventh pick overall Sedrick Ellis was added to help cause disruption up the middle. The team also hired defensive line coach, Ed Orgeron, who is known to get the most out of his players.
Running game: When the team went to the NFC Championship Game in ’06 season, the tandem of Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush were regarded as one of the best in the league. Last season, knee injuries costed Deuce the majority of his season and shortened Reggie’s season. Aaron Stecker played well when he filled in and Pierre Thomas shined in his only start. However, the team never had a consistent run game which put even more pressure on Drew Brees and the passing attack.
Reasons for hope: Reggie and Deuce will both be a full-go by training camp, which may get the tandem back on track. Pierre Thomas and Stecker are both on the team still which means the depth is still there. Also, Reggie Bush “bust talk” has heated up, which may get him to play with an enormous chip on his shoulder.
Linebackers: Mark Simoneau is definitely very capable of playing in the league, but maybe not as a starter at middle linebacker on a team hoping to contend. The play of Scott Shanle also seemed to drop off from ’06 which didn’t help matters.
Reasons for hope: Two words: Jonathan Vilma.