With training camp in full swing, there is a bit of pressure on the New Orleans Saints. The team missed out on the playoffs last year for the first time since the season before the championship run.
A number of factors come into play when we talk about where they went wrong during the 2012 season. Yes, defense was at its all-time worst. In fact, it was pathetic.
Of course, we all know Sean Payton was suspended last year. That is why I don't even want to talk about it. New Orleans has a new defensive coordinator, a new scheme and a first round pick in Kenny Vaccaro, whom the team has very high hopes for.
They have made a few good acquisitions during the offseason to help add strength to this new 3-4 scheme. Yes, Victor Butler may be out for the entire season, but luckily the team is stacked at the linebacker position, so all that nonsense from last year is in the past.
The offense however, in the air, was fantastic. Drew Brees threw for over 5,000 yards and dominated the scoreboard with 43 touchdowns. Numbers like that is why he has been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times and has been honored as an All-Pro four times.
He is a god in New Orleans. Correction, he is God in New Orleans. However, he threw 19 interceptions last year, which is the second most he's ever thrown in his twelve-year career.
Before last season, the Saints' running game usually finished near the top, which took an ample amount of pressure off the quarterback. Last year, however, they finished 25th overall on the ground. Sean Payton has already said that they plan to attack the defense on the ground more than ever this upcoming season, and with Mark Ingram nearing his prime, look for the former Heisman winner to have his breakout year.
Many people believe he will, and I do as well. Of course, him and Pierre Thomas will split the carries. In fact, Thomas will likely have more time with the ball than Ingram, due to his experience and inside running ability.
However, if New Orleans does decide to switch to a more evenly-distributed offense, look for the former Alabama superstar to take quite a hefty workload. If they can dominate on the ground and take pressure off the quarterback, turnovers will decrease substantially and that will also take pressure off the defense.
Drew Brees always dominates, but if the ground attack conquers, look for the All-Pro to be near immaculate this season, hopefully positioning the Saints to post numbers up on the scoreboard like they did during their historical Super Bowl run. They have all the weapons to do so.
It's going to be a great year for the organization, and with Sean Payton back in the mix, the New Orleans Saints are back in the mix. Look out NFL, the boys are back in town...