Tampa BayWatch – My Thoughts on the Bucs

NFC South Season Preview part 2

with one comment

Next post in this series and this time I’m looking at the New Orleans Saints. I think it’s fair to say that nobody expected the Saints to be as good as they were last season. A 10-6 season, a trip to the NFC Conference Championship game and the emergence of a star. That star however wasn’t the Saints top draft pick out of USC Reggie Bush. Marques Colston from Division 1-AA Hofstra, the 252nd pick of the draft lit up the league with over 1000 yards receiving and 8 TD’s and formed a formidable partnership with QB Drew Brees.

Marques Colston

New Orleans Saints – Last Season 10-6

The weight of expectation will be on Sean Payton and the Saints this season. As a team that made the NFC Championship game every team that faces them will be gunning for them. In their favour they appear to be the top team in their division by quite some distance and these games should provide them with a good basis for a strong season. Last season the Saints were 4-2 in divisional play and I would expect this to improve by at least 1 game as when the Saints played the Panthers in week 17 they rested a number of key starters as they were already confirmed as Division Champions.

Are the team stronger than last year ?

The focus of the off-season seems to have been to bolster the Saints defence. Although ranked #3 against the pass last season the Saints were #23 against the run. The addition of Kaesviharn, Clancy and Simmons should provide some depth and provide some rotation for the starters. Simmons was brought in to challenge Mark Simoneau for the starting MLB spot, but Simoneau has had a great training camp and seems to be set as the #1 MLB. Simmons appears to be more adept against the run, and could interchange nicely with Simoneau who is better in coverage. When playing for the Bengals, Kaesviharn always struck me as useful in pass support but a bit lacking in run support, whether he can overtake Josh Bullocks as the starting SS remains to be seen.  Kendrick Clancy will provide a useful rotation in the DT spots for Hollis Thomas.

David Patten was brought into to provide leadership on what is a very young WR core after Joe Horn was cut. First round signing Robert Meacham seems to have struggled early on in his NFL career and is currently way down the Depth Chart. The Saints have a great recieving threat with Devery Henderson lining up with Marques Colston at WR, and the threat of Reggie Bush from the backfield cannot be under estimated. (Bush led the team in receptions last year).

The big loss (if you can call the loss of a kicker big) was John Carney. Carney was near perfect at FG’s last season, only missing on 2 out of 25 attempts. Olindo Mare has been brought in from the Dolphins to replace him. Mare certainly has a bigger leg (he led the league in touchbacks) although missed 10 FG attempts last season. Mare certainly has to up his accuracy to make sure Carney isn’t missed.

The big signing (or re-signing) was Charles Grant. Grant was linked with a move to division rivals Tampa Bay. However the Saints slapped the Franchise Tag on Grant and the team then reworked a 7 year contract that could be worth up to $63 million.

Overall the team seem to have focussed on ensuring they have strength in depth in key positions and seem primed to make a charge for the division title again this season.

Key Player Losses:

John Carney K / Joe Horn WR

Key Player Signings:

Olindo Mare K / Kevin Kaesviharn S / David Patten WR / Jason David CB / Dhani Jones LB / Kendrick Clancy DT / Brian Simmons LB /Charles Grant DE

A good season if…

The Saints reach the Championship game. The NFC still seems to be the poor relative of the NFL and the Saints are certainly one of the strongest teams in this division.

Schedule

Date Fixture
Sep 6 @ Indianapolis
Sep 16 @ Tampa Bay
Sep 24 Tennessee
Sep 30 BYE WEEK
Oct 7 Carolina
Oct 14 @ Seattle
Oct 21 Atlanta
Oct 28 @ San Francisco
Nov 4 Jacksonville
Nov 11 St Louis
Nov 18 @ Houston
Nov 25 @ Carolina
Dec 2 Tampa Bay
Dec 10 @ Atlanta
Dec 16 Arizona
Dec 23 Philadelphia
Dec 30 @ Chicago
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Written by UK Bucs Fan

August 16, 2007 at 11:39 am

One Response

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  1. I think this division will be a dogfight (ok, that was uncalled for).

    The Panthers will be better, Atlanta is a bit of a wildcard, but I believe they will be improved on offense for sure, and Tampa, well, Tampa is better than they showed last year.

    I think Carolina wins the division.

    OMAR

    August 16, 2007 at 8:48 pm


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