New Orleans Saints 2009 Quick Hits

July 28, 2009 by

Why the Saints are Super Bowl contenders.

New Orleans Saints

Predicted: 1st

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.

Special Teams

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

Draft

RD PK (OVR) NAME POS SCHOOL

1 14 (14) Malcolm Jenkins CB Ohio St

4 16 (116) Chip Vaughn S W Forest

4 18 (118) Stanley Arnoux ILB W Forest

5 28 (164) Thomas Morstead P SMU

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).

Analysis

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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    Comments

    5 Responses to “New Orleans Saints 2009 Quick Hits”
    • Eric Drouant says:

      Good breakdown of the Saints. I believe strongly that Pierre Thomas will have an impact year in 2009. The changes on defense were all made in the right way but it remains to be seen if they can perform as a unit. A good start is essential as the Saints have played catchup the last two seasons. The game with Philadelphia in Week 2 will give us a good idea of what we have on D. Win there and it’s on.

    • realheavyd says:

      I completely disagree with the placement of TE Dan Campbell ahead of Billy Miller. In fact, I believe that Campbell won’t even make the 53 man roster behind Jeremy Shockey, Billy Miller and Darnell Dinkins due to a nagging injury and his age. Mark my words…

    • realheavyd says:

      Win in Philly in week 2 and the Saints will likely start out at 4-0 before the bye week! If they can then come back in week 6 and beat the Giants in the Dome to go 5-0, look the ____ out after that!

    • jcs504 says:

      5-0 not that much of a stretch. Since McNabb has a cracked rib and Vick is not eligable until week 3, I suspect that Kevin Kolb will start. If this is the case, I would not expect much of a passing game and that a less than 100% Brian Westbrook or Leonard Weaver to get many touches. However the Eagle defense is still really good. Saints win 28-20. Giant game is in New Orleans, but Saints will be coming off of a bye.

    • John Smith says:

      Drew Brees should get payed more than everyone, hes the best player ever!

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