In 2011, the New Orleans Saints should be considered as a serious contender to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
In 2010, New Orleans did well in avoiding the hangover of their Super Bowl victory over Indianapolis, finishing the regular season with an 11-5 record.
Despite the injuries that plagued the Saints and Drew Brees’ 22 INTs, the Saints made it to the playoffs in back to back seasons.
After losing to Seattle in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, the Saints went into the off season with a lot of uncertainty.
The Saints have many free agents that need to be signed. Pierre Thomas was signed before the collective bargaining agreement expired. His signing was a big step in New Orleans getting back to the big game.
Lance Moore is another valued free agent that the Saints must make a top priority once the free agency period begins.
Here are some reasons why New Orleans should be a top contender in 2011:
1. Despite 11 wins in 2010, the Saints looked awfully rusty. Drew Brees did not have a great season. His 22 interceptions must be cut in half if the Saints want to win the NFC South and eventually get back to the Super Bowl.
In the off-season after New Orleans’ Super Bowl victory, Brees starred in many commercials. Most notably, the Nyquil commercial that featured Brees having a cold with the slogan “Quarterback, sacked.”
With commercial opportunities, Brees more than likely did not have his focus on football throughout the off season. While the lockout may cause a distraction and prevent players from contacting coaches, Brees has still hosted workouts with team mates. That’s a good news for Saints fans.
Also, during 2010, Brees and his wife had their second child. The birth of Brees’ son, Bowen, more than likely was a distraction mid-season. If Brees doesn’t have any children in 2011 and his focus stays on football, New Orleans’ offense should click like it did in ’09.
2. It’s hard for any team to repeat as Super Bowl champions. In 2010, the Saints, for the most part, avoided the Super Bowl hangover with their 11 wins. However, with all the weight of “repeating” off their backs, the sky is the limit for what this team can do.
3. The 2011 NFL Draft was by far the best draft in Saints history. Drafting Cameron Jordan 24th overall was a need that New Orleans addressed. After low production from Will Smith and Alex Brown, New Orleans had to upgrade at defensive end.
At 28th , New Orleans drafted Mark Ingram. Ingram will join a crowded, yet talented, backfield with Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory. However, Ingram is the most consistent back out of the four.
Bush provides a spark in the passing game, Thomas has great vision and is an exceptional screen back and Ivory grinds out the tough yards. With Ingram being the fourth back in the rotation, his production should keep the other three backs’ legs fresh, making them more effective.
4. Despite the poor showing against Seattle in the playoffs, the Saints defense is an improved unit. In 2010, the Saints were in the top 10 in a lot of major defensive statistics. In year three of Greg Williams’ scheme, Vilma and the defense should provide a lot of turnovers and three-and-outs for Brees and the offense.
5. The Saints still have Drew Brees and Sean Payton. Brees is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in league history and is very smart. He usually makes great decisions and has a stronger arm than most perceive.
Brees, teamed up with Payton, is a deadly combination of QB and play caller. Payton is the best offensive playcaller in the league and he is great as getting mismatches on the field and utilizing his players to their abilities. Brees is exceptional at seeing those mismatches and making plays on them.
In 2009, the Saints defeated Indianapolis in the Super Bowl. Hopefully in 2011 the Saints will be in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.