|The Saints gambled that this was the year they could challenge for the Super Bowl. They turned out to be very wrong. Trading for linebacker Jonathan Vilma and tight end Jeremy Shockey wasn't enough to put them over the top and they still have to pay the price for missing on draft picks. Too bad, because they'll need them to overhaul their defense for the second straight year. Although Vilma helped and rookie defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis had some bright moments, the defense wasn't much different than last year. Injuries on defense, poor play in the secondary, inconsistency in running the ball and a brutal schedule all took a toll on the Saints. Even with a huge year from quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints weren't able to get to the playoffs. Grade: D+ |
Biggest surprise: Lance Moore emerged as the team's No. 1 receiver out of desperation. A former undrafted free agent, Moore became Brees' favorite target after injuries left the Saints with few other options on offense. The speedy Moore was the only consistent receiver the Saints had.
Biggest disappointment: Marques Colston. It wasn't all his fault because an early thumb injury cost Colston significant time. But, even after he returned, Colston wasn't the same receiver he was the previous two seasons.
Biggest need: Once again, it's defense -- just about everywhere on defense. The Saints couldn't defend the pass, couldn't rush the quarterback and didn't stop the running game. Other than that, they were flawless on defense. Vilma, Ellis and strong safety Roman Harper are the only defensive players whose jobs should be safe. A free safety and cover corner are the biggest priorities, but speed at linebacker and another pass rusher to challenge the underachieving Charles Grant and Will Smith would help.
Tip to Sean Payton: Go get a real running back. Let Deuce McAllister go because he's not in your plans and admit that Reggie Bush is not a true feature back. Use Bush as a combination of a receiver and runner, but don't count on him to play every down. This year showed you can go out and throw for around 5,000 yards, but it won't get you anywhere if you don't have a running game.