YOOOAdrian’s 2010 NFL Preview- New Orleans Saints

Most Saints fans are still hungover after an incredible 2009 season, which culminated into a Super Bowl Title.  We’ll find out this year if the football team is still hungover after the franchise’s 1st Super Bowl?  No team has reached back to back Super Bowls since the New England Patriots did it in 2004 and 2005.  Finally, quarterback Drew Brees is getting some much needed recognition as being one of the best quarterbacks in football.  Don’t forget about that offensive line, one of the best in football.

 Quarterbacks

 Drew Brees-  363/514  70.6%  4,388 yds  34 td  11 int  109.6 rat

Last season, Brees set an NFL single season completion percentage record.  He may only be 6 feet tall, but he has all the tools in an All-Pro quarterback.  He has the quickest release in the NFL and great pocket awareness.  He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but can still get the ball downfield to go along with a great touch. 

(Drew Brees)

Brees is the epitome of a locker room leader, on and off the field.  His work ethic is incredible as he has perfected Sean Payton’s complex offense.

Others- Chase Daniel, Sean Canfield

Mark Brunell is gone from being the backup so Daniel and the rookie Canfield will fight to backup Brees.

GRADE- 9.25

 Running Backs

Pierre Thomas- 147 car  5.4 avg  793 yds  6 td  39 rec  302 yds  2 td

Thomas doesn’t get the pub that Bush does, but it’s Thomas who gets the ball in crunch time.  Thomas isn’t strongest or fastest, but he has good vision and balance.  He also has good hands coming out of the backfield.

(Pierre Thomas)

Reggie Bush-  70 car  5.6 avg  390 yds  5 td  47 rec  335 yds  3 td

Bush had his best season of his career last season.  He isn’t your prototypical running back, but he can be a weapon in Sean Payton’s offense.  He is extremely dangerous in space with his elusive bevy of moves and speed.  He’s learned to become a better runner.

 Others- Lynell Hamilton, Heath Evans

Hamilton looks to become the short yardage back that Mike Bell was last year.

Evans returns as the fullback after tearing his ACL.

GRADE- 7.25

 Receivers

Marques Colston- 70 rec  1,074 yds  15.3 avg  9 td

Colston is tall and deceptively quick.  He plays with good body control and uses his size to box out defenders and make catches.  He has great hands and adjusts to back shoulder throws well.

Marques Colston Image

(Marques Colston)

Devery Henderson- 51 rec  804 yds  15.8 avg  2 td

Henderson is a deep threat who uses tremendous speed.  His hands aren’t the best.

Robert Meachem- 45 rec  722 yds  16.0 avg  9 td

Finally, Meachem is living up to some of the expectations after being drafted in the 1st round in 2007.  He’s a sure handed receiver who’s a nice target in the red zone.

TE- Jeremy Shockey- 48 rec  569 yds  11.9 avg  3 td

Shockey has accepted a smaller role than he had when he was a Giant.  He’s a reliable option for Brees when healthy.

Others- Lance Moore, David Thomas

Moore is a slot receiver who’s a nice option on 3rd downs.

Thomas is a tight end who works best as a lead blocker.

Graham is an intriguing player who’s only played one year of college football for Miami.  Like Antonio Gates, Graham was also a basketball player.

GRADE- 7.5

 Offensive Line

 LT- Jermon Bushrod

Bushrod takes over for Jamaal Brown.  Bushrod is a work in progress who has promise, but struggled against top tier pass rushers.

LG- Carl Nicks

Nicks is full of girth and power.  He’s athletic and agile for his size.

C- Jonathan Goodwin

Goodwin isn’t as athletic as his fellow lineman, but he’s strong and plays with good technique.

RG- Jahri Evans

Evans is currently the best guard in the game.  He is an absolute mammoth who is equally effective blocking in the run and pass.

(Jahri Evans)

RT- Jon Stinchcomb

Stinchcomb is more of a finesse player who can get beaten by rushers with speed.

GRADE- 8.5

Defensive Line

 LDE- Alex Brown- 48 tck  6 sck  1 p def

Brown is expected to bring more of a pass rush on the left side after the departure of Charles Grant.  Brown has at least 6 sacks in 5 of the past 6 years. 

LDT- Sedrick Ellis- 34 tck  2 sck  2 p def

Ellis is built like a monster truck, but his inability to stay healthy is starting to become a concern.  When healthy, Ellis is a great pass rusher from the tackle position.

RDT- Remi Ayodele- 30 tck  1.5 sck

Ayodele needs to work on his strength to become a better run stuffer.

RDE- Will Smith- 49 tck  13 sck  1 int  3 p def  1 ff

Smith is a pass rushing presence with an ability to dominate.  He plays with a non-stop motor and never quits on plays.

See full size image

(Will Smith)

Others- Bobby McCray, Anthony Hargrove

McCray has previous starting experience.  He’s best as a pass rusher.  He has a quick 1st step and uses his speed to beat offensive lineman.

Hargrove can play tackle or end

Wilkerson is coming off ACL surgery in January.

GRADE- 7.5

 Linebackers

LOLB- Jo-Lonn Dunbar- 20 tck

Dunbar lacks size and length, but is a hard worker.  He takes over for Scott Fujita.

MLB- Jonathan Vilma- 110 tck  2 sck  3 int  11 p def

Vilma is at his best dropping back and disrupting the passing game.  He plays with good insincts, speed and range and flows to the ball.  His tackling isn’t the best, but he makes plays.

(Jonathan Vilma)

ROLB- Scott Shanle- 69 tck  2 int  3 p def

Shanle is tough, but lacks athleticism.  He’s a sure tackler, but doesn’t get pressure on the quarterback when called upon to blitz.

Others- Jonathan Casillas, Stanley Arnoux, Troy Evans

Casillas, Arnoux and Evans will all compete with Dunbar for the starting spot vacated by Fujita.

GRADE- 7.25

 Secondary

LCB- Jabari Greer- 44 tck  2 int  13 p def 

Greer is speedy, athletic and great in man-to-man coverage.  He has good ball skills.

RCB- Tracy Porter- 57 tck  4 int  12 p def  2 ff

Porter put his name on the map, cementing a Super Bowl win for New Orleans with an interception late in the game against Peyton Manning.  Porter is not as physical as Greer, but like Greer, Porter is fast and athletic.

(Tracy Porter)

CB- Malcolm Jenkins- 55 tck  1 int  4 p def  2 ff

Jenkins has good instincts and playmaking ability.  He has good size to play to slot.

FS- Darren Sharper- 71 tck  9 int  15 p def  .5 sck

Sharper at 34 resurrected his career last season.  He had 9 picks, 3 of which were returned for touchdowns.  If Greer and Porter can shut down the outside receivers, that gives Sharper the freedom to roam the field and make plays.

SS- Roman Harper- 102 tck  5 p def  1.5 sck

Harper is one of the best hitters in the game.  He is a thumper against the run and an effective blitzer in Gregg Williams blitz packages.  He is a bit of a liability in pass coverage.

Others- Patrick Robinson, Randall Gay, Usama Young

Robinson was a 1st round pick in the NFL Draft from Florida State.  He is gifted athletically and has enormous potential.

Young looked to be the starting free safety until the team decided to bring Sharper back.

GRADE- 7.25 

 Special Teams

 PK- Garrett Hartley- 9/11 38 lg

Hartley earned free alcoholic beverages for life with his game winning kick to send New Orleans to the Super Bowl.

P- Thomas Morstead- 58 punts  43.6 avg  18 in 20  60 lg

Morstead is a good punter who gets good hangtime on his boots.

KR- Courtney Roby- 42 ret  27.5 avg  1 td  97 lg

Roby has good straight-line speed.  He has the ability to take kicks back for touchdowns.

PR- Reggie Bush- 27 ret  4.8 avg  23 lg

Bush didn’t possess a great return average, but he’s devastating with field to work with.

GRADE- 7

2010 PREDICTION- 9-7

What New Orleans did last season was remarkable.  They’re a team that’s very easy to root for, but last season felt kind of fluky to me.  They benefited from a rather easy schedule which got them home field advantage in the playoffs.  This year, the schedule isn’t so easy, so we’ll see what New Orleans is really made of.  Drew Brees is a phenominal talent, and the coaching staff is one of NFL’s best, but I still have trouble believing in this defense.  They’re rushing and passing defense isn’t great, but they forced so many turnovers last season that I think those aspects got a bit overlooked.  Maybe I’m just a moron, but a Super Bowl hangover may be looming this upcoming season.   

Offensive MVP- Drew Brees

Defensive MVP- Will Smith

Breakthrough- Sedrick Ellis

Overrated- Reggie Bush

Underrated- Pierre Thomas

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