Welcome to Saints Minicamp: 2017
By Dayton Brown
New Orleans looks to shock the NFL World this season, which officially starts today.
Seven and nine. Those three words have haunted Saints fans for the past three seasons. No playoff berths have come out of those seasons either, making January that much colder for Who Dat Nation. However, today, June 13, is the start of training camp for the New Orleans Saints ( and many other teams) in 2017.
After months of preparation for the draft, many hours spent by players working out on their own and with team staff, and countless shuffles to the staff and roster, the Saints hit the practice field today with a “new beginning” in mind.
Fans and the origination are unsettled.
The city is 7+ years removed from a Super Bowl victory. The magic from that is starting to wear off, and the angst for success has made the team feel rushed. Head coach Sean Payton, as great as he’s been for the Saints, seemed to be on the “very warm” seat this offseason. There was very minor talk of the possibility of him moving on for another gig. But it seems like he is here to stay.
As is future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees, who claims he will be able to play until he’s at least 40. If that’s the case, New Orleans is in luck, as Brees and Payton have been an absolute killer combo since they came to The Big Easy in 2006.
The offense is always a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, for how great it is, the defense is just as horrendous. Historically bad defenses have come and gone for the Saints the past decade, halting any chances of a Super Bowl run. This year feels different, though. It seems as though general manager Mickey Loomis has gotten the right pieces in place to at least build a foundation for this year and many to come. Let’s take a look at more mini camp stories to pay attention to.
Storylines to Watch Until Week 1
The Nick Fairley Situation
Fairley’s heart condition seems to have worsen, and the future of his career is in question. Health comes first for players, so all fans should be rooting for good news. We should also be understanding of his decision no matter what, especially if he believes stepping down is the safest option. Football-wise, his impact would be missed, as he was the team’s leading sack man last year. This next month and a half will answer all questions, and we all hope to see Fairley make a full recovery.
Performance of Top Picks
Marshon Lattimore was a Draft-Day gift for the Saints. The top-graded safety prospect looks to help improve a constantly woeful Saints defense. Is he the missing piece to make the gears turn upwards? Is second-round safety Marcus Williams also going to contribute enough to get New Orleans over that hump? On the other side of the ball, running back Alvin Kamara was drafted in the third round after the Saints traded up. Will he become an ultimate steal and fill the Darren Sproles-type role quick enough? His development may be the most interesting of them all.
Where Does Drew Brees Stand?
As mentioned, Brees is on his way to Canton. His career has been more than dominant enough to make him a first-ballot entry. But at what stage of his career is he in now? Does he have enough in the tank to lead this team to a title contention? The obvious answer is yes, especially considering his exponential growth as a quarterback. But no one fully knows until training camp gets into the full swing of things. The offensive line being dominant seems to help out Brees’ case.