New Orleans Saints 2009 Quick Hits
Why the Saints are Super Bowl contenders.
New Orleans Saints
2008: 8-8 (4th NFC South)
Head Coach: Sean Payton (4th year)
Roster Quick View (*new veteran, **rookie)
Offense (coordinator: Pete Carmichael)
QB: Drew Brees
If the Saints ever win a Super Bowl, he’ll be mentioned in the same breath as Brady and Manning. Few appreciate just how good this guy really is.
RB: Pierre Thomas
Smartly increased his weight to 225 in an effort to fulfill this team’s power-running needs.
RB: Reggie Bush
Those who can accept the fact that he’s a running back in name only can fully appreciate just how valuable his receiving and big-play potential are to this offense.
FB: Heath Evans*
Mike Karney only with more experience and slightly better ball-handling skills.
WR: Marques Colston
Turns out the former USC superstar Dwayne Jarrett didn’t actually go to Carolina and become a bust – he instead came here and changed his name.
WR: Devery Henderson
Gets away with inconsistency because he’s a threat to go the distance at any moment. Has 18 catches of 40 yards or more over the last three seasons.
WR: Lance Moore
Perhaps Brees’s most trusted target. Runs good routes, doesn’t make errors and also contributes as a blocker.
TE: Jeremy Shockey
Maybe he’ll get his head in the game once he realizes this offense flies with or without him.
TE: Dan Campbell*
Excellent run-blocking will keep him ahead of swift veteran Billy Miller on the depth chart.
LT: Jammal Brown
Nasty fist-fighter who borders on greatness except when facing elite defensive ends.
LG: Carl Nicks
Second-year man who can learn the pro game on the fly because he takes advantage of his 341-pound size.
C: Jonathan Goodwin
Quietly holds down one of the best lines in football.
RG: Jahri Evans
Ironing some minor wrinkles in pass-blocking just might make him the best guard in football.
RT: Jon Stinchcomb
A gritty, maybe even somewhat sloppy, mudder. But veteran cunning makes him an above-average RT.
6 OL: Jamar Nesbit
Booming run-blocker who could start for a majority of NFL teams.
Defense (coordinator: Gregg Williams)
LDE: Charles Grant
Has tailed off somewhat since signing a lucrative long-term contract, but injuries could be a factor. If healthy, he can be a fleet, strong all-around force.
DT: Sedrick Ellis
Has surprising quickness given his rotund build. Gets a fairly consistent push and has good hands. Could be a star.
NT: Kendrick Clancy
Would never survive at NT in a 3-4.
RDE: Will Smith
Can be quick off the edge but is actually a better run-defender than pass-rusher. Needs to get more breathers during games.
3 DE: Bobby McCray
Used strictly as a pass-rushing specialist. Saints would like to see more than six sacks in 2009.
3 DT: Remi Ayodele
Raw, undrafted rookie last year whose burst as a run-stopper makes him worth coaching up.
SLB: Scott Fujita
Respected veteran leader who will be expected to make more big plays in Gregg Williams’s aggressive scheme.
MLB: Jonathan Vilma
Doesn’t have his old explosiveness but is very patient and productive. Saints’ biggest priority this past offseason was inking him to a five-year, $34 million deal.
WLB: Scott Shanle
Really more of a Sam than Will.
4 LB: Mark Simoneau
Smart, well-experienced utility veteran who can handle virtually any chore.
CB: Jabari Greer*
Not a playmaker, but has excellent raw cover skills. Should break New Orleans’s streak of disappointing free agent cornerback pickups.
CB: Tracy Porter
Was playing well until a Week 5 broken wrist truncated his ’08 rookie season. Shows good quickness.
NB: Randall Gay
Questionable technique will almost surely land him behind first-round rookie Malcolm Jenkins at some point.
SS: Roman Harper
Fourth-year pro approaching his last chance at breaking out. Can be a punishing hitter, but poor awareness hurts him in coverage.
FS: Darren Sharper*
Leads all active players with 54 career interceptions. No longer fast enough to be a feared ballhawk, but still gives this secondary desperately-needed veteran stability.
6 DB: Malcolm Jenkins**
Passion for football has onlookers excited. Might be a better fit at FS, though Saints want to try him at CB first.
K: Garrett Hartley
Didn’t miss a single kick after joining the team in Week 10 last season.
P: Thomas Morstead**
Drafted in the fifth round as the hoped-for solution to this team’s 25th-ranked punt coverage.
RS: Reggie Bush
His unforgettable Monday Night performance against the Vikings last season speaks for itself.
Offseason Quick Glance
RD PK (OVR) NAME POS SCHOOL
KEY PLAYERS ACQUIRED
TE Dan Campbell: FA Lions; $745,000/1 yr.
TE Darnell Dinkins: UFA Browns; 1 yr, terms unknown.
FB Heath Evans: UFA Patriots; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
CB Jabari Greer: UFA Bills; $22M/4 yrs, $10M guaranteed.
C Nick Leckey: UFA Rams; 1 yr, terms unknown.
S Pierson Prioleau: UFA Jaguars; terms unknown.
S Darren Sharper: UFA Vikings; $1.7M/1 yr, $200,000 SB.
DE Paul Spicer: FA Jaguars; 1 yr, terms unknown.
LB Anthony Waters: FA Chargers; terms unknown.
KEY PLAYERS LOST
FS Josh Bullocks: UFA Bears; 1 yr, $525,000 guaranteed.
TE Mark Campbell
FB Mike Karney (released).
S Kevin Kaesviharn (released).
RB Deuce McAllister (released/failed physical).
CB Mike McKenzie (released/failed physical).
WR David Patten (released).
DT Hollis Thomas (released/failed physical).
DT Brian Young (released/failed physical).
Saints GM Mickey Loomis played it by the book this past offseason. He dismissed injury-plagued veterans like RB Deuce McAllister, CB Mike McKenzie and DT’s Hollis Thomas and Brian Young. He cut sub-par safeties Kevin Kaesviharn and Josh Bullocks. Then, realizing that his team is still––still––one solid defense away from Super Bowl caliber, Loomis looked for stoppers who could thrive in the aggressive scheme of new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. (By the way, replacing passive Gary Gibbs with Williams will prove to be New Orleans’s most important offseason move).
The Saints found instant stability at FS by bringing in Darren Sharper. At 33, Sharper has lost some range, but if nothing else, he, along with Gregg Williams-favorite Pierson Prioleau, can help tutor New Orleans’s youthful defensive backs. This includes CB Tracey Porter (second year), SS Roman Harper (fourth year––and still maturing) and first-round rookie Malcolm Jenkins, who can play corner or one day inherit Sharper’s FS job. Last year’s free agent cornerback Randall Gay is likely to get demoted behind this year’s free agent corner Jabari Greer (an underrated ex-Bill).
On the down side, with McAllister gone, New Orleans desperately needs a legitimate between-the-tackles runner to compliment Reggie Bush. They tried unsuccessfully to trade back into the first-round to get Ohio State RB Beanie Wells. (Trading for Jonathan Vilma and Jeremy Shockey last season left them short on early-mid-round picks.) But make no mistake: the overall key to improvement lies on defense.
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