TEAM: New Orleans Saints
SPEC. TEAMS C+
FRONT OFFICE C-
STRENGTH QB, LB, OL
WEAKNESS CB, S, WR
OFF. MVP Drew Brees
DEF. MVP Jonathan Vilma
TOP ROOKIE Sedrick Ellis
Comments: I had no doubt that the Saints offensive led by quarterback Drew Brees would put points on the board through the air, but my concerns regarding the running game manifested itself very early in the season. Deuce McAllister due to a series of serious injuries is no longer a dominant inside running force and, the injured Reggie Bush has never shown a propensity for running the football between the tackles. The receiving group is adequate, with little depth and or a legitimate deep receiving threat.
The defense shows improvement, particularly up the middle (rookie Sedrick Ellis, newcomer Jonathan Vilma, and the returning Roman Harper), but the secondary play has been very uneven. Safety Kevin Kaesviharn has limited range and is really limited in pass coverage. The kicking game is also not near as efficient as it needs to be.
Head coach is Sean Payton is widely recognized as one of the leagues rising stars, and his assistants led by Joe Vitt, Doug Marone and Gary Gibbs are experienced hands and good teachers.
General Manager Mickey Loomis is a former high school math teacher with no football background. Rick Reiprish is a veteran talent evaluator, but the scouting staff is very inexperienced and thin. Terry Wooden in his second season with the club is a rising star in the league.
Based on what I've seen to date, I believe t are Saints are a solid mid-level club who have an even chance of capturing the NFC South division champions. If they were to capture the division title, I would give them little chance of advancing as a road playoff club.