1) Fix the defense: A lot of things went wrong with the Saints this season, but first and foremost it was the failure of their defense. This happened at all levels, both inside and out. It starts up front with the pass rush or lack of. New Orleans finished 25th in the NFL with only 31 sacks in 2014. This is an area that they have to get better at, whether it’s through the draft, free agency or both. There’s a good chance the Saints will be in prime position to draft a pass rusher with their first selection.
2) Middle is the key: Sticking with the defense this unit needs help right down the middle at all levels. Is Brodrick Bunkley the answer in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense at nose guard? If not, John Jenkins has shown little, therefore New Orleans must go out and get a big man to anchor the middle of their defense. That’s why the Saints drafted Jenkins, but he hasn’t been the answer, even as a backup. New Orleans also needs help and depth at the middle linebacker spot and in the secondary at safety.
3) Correct the corners: Staying on the defensive theme, New Orleans has to address the cornerback position. They could use one or perhaps even two upgrades here. This is a defense that ranked 29th against the pass and yielded only 11 interceptions.
4) Pass protect for Brees: There was far too much pressure on Drew Brees in 2014. New Orleans has to do a better job in pass pro. Center Jonathan Goodwin is 36 years old and a free agent. It’s unlikely they bring him back. Certainly New Orleans could draft a good one in a player like Reese Dismukes (Auburn) in the second round or look for someone later on in the draft. They should also try and upgrade their depth on this unit. Terron Armstead should be much better in 2015 with a year of starting experience under his belt.
5) Brees has to return to form: This team will only go as far as Brees will take them. He had a very average season after many years of consistently being one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Are we starting to see a decline in Brees or was this just a speed bump? I’m hedging that this was just one of those down years for this future Hall of Famer and this Saints franchise. It’s simple: Brees has to play at a high level for this team to make the playoffs in 2015.
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