1. The hiring of Sean Payton as head coach.
After four ho-hum seasons led to a 3-13 campaign, albeit under some trying circumstances because of Hurricane Katrina, the Saints desperately needed something exciting and new for the 2006 season.
So Jim Haslett was fired and 42-year-old Sean Payton, who's never been a head coach at any level, jumped at the opportunity to help the Saints rebuild their franchise while the city of New Orleans continues to recover from the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.
Young and energetic, Payton immediately rolled up his sleeves and purged the roster of underachieving, highly-paid players and put his own stamp on the team via trades and free agency with the addition of 18 veterans. With those moves, Payton has let it be known that things are going to be quite different this fall.
2. The signing of quarterback Drew Brees.
Like the coach, the Saints needed a change at quarterback after the erratic Aaron Brooks continued to head on a downward spiral and was finally benched for the final three games of the 2005 season.
The Saints resisted the urge to draft Matt Leinart or Vince Young with the second pick and almost immediately set their sights on Drew Brees even though he was coming off shoulder surgery.
In giving Brees a six-year, $60 million contract, the Saints also gave him the keys to the franchise and entrusted him with turning around an offense that has some talented players over the years -- but never seemed to live up to expectations.
3. The drafting of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush.
The opportunity to get a player like Reggie Bush was something the Saints never dreamed of until the Houston Texans decided to pass on the electric running back. The selection of Bush with the second overall pick signaled the start of a honeymoon that has yet to end -- and likely won't for quite some time as Bush has become the face of the franchise.
On the field, Bush will team with two-time Pro Bowl pick Deuce McAllister to give the Saints a solid 1-2 punch in the backfield. McAllister is coming off an ACL injury that could make the addition of Bush all the more important if McAllister is feeling the affects of that surgery.