Dec 29, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) holds his helmet up to fans as he leaves the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-17. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Saints missed the playoffs last year with a record of 7-9, second-best in the NFC South. They certainly didn’t belong in the playoffs last year, with a defense that gave up the most yardage in NFL History. A much improved defense has bolstered a potent offense but they will have to win on the road if they hope to make it to the Superbowl. Are the Saints better than last year’s team? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
With head coach Sean Payton back the Saints were able to become slightly more balanced than they were last year. Out of their 359 first downs, 244 of them were achieved through the air while 87 were converted on the ground. In 2012 the Saints had 352 first downs; 267 were through the air and only 64 were by the running game. It’s still not close to the Saints 2009 season where they had 215 first downs by the pass and 115 by the ground, but it’s certainly an improvement.
If anything has gotten worse it’s the effectiveness of the running game. Nearly 400 rushing plays for the Saints have produced a paltry average of 3.8 yards per rush, which isn’t much better than 2012’s average of 4.3 yards. Another number that the Saints have to be worried about is the amount of sacks quarterback Drew Brees is taking. He’s been brought down 37 times in 2013 compared to 26 times in 2012.