2009 New Orleans Saints Season Preview
2009 New Orleans Saints preview from MadduxSports.com. The NFC South is a very difficult division to forecast on a year to year basis and the NFL lines makers often put up some soft numbers that sharp nfl handicappers pounce on. In 2009 be on the right side of games with the help of Maddux Sports handicapping team.
2009 New Orleans Saints Predictions
By Adam Barone
The Saints had a disappointing season in 2008, going 8-8, finishing in last place in the NFC South and missing the playoffs. They lost six of their eight games by a combined 18 points, and lost five by three points or less. Head coach Sean Payton believes that the problem was the defense, which was 23rd best in the league, and the team’s poor play at the end of games. A number of changes were made on defense and the coaching staff in an effort to make them a Super Bowl contender this season.
The number of changes to the coaching staff was somewhat surprising considering the success that the Payton-led Saints have had offensively. Though firing defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and replacing him with Gregg Williams was no surprise to anyone, four lower-level jobs on the offensive staff will either be filled by new coaches or coaches who held a different position in 2008.
The clear strength of the Saints is quarterback Drew Brees, his sweet hair cut, and the passing game. In fact, with Brees they can challenge for a Super Bowl, while without Brees it’s likely that they’d be one of the worst ten teams in the league. He’s that important. In 2008 Brees broke the Saints’records (previously held by him) for passing yards (5,069), and touchdowns (34). Despite the fact that his arsenal of receivers on offense is usually made up mostly of relatively unknown receivers, the entire group is healthy going into the season. Brees could be in for his best season yet.
Running back Reggie Bush is healthy after missing six games in 2008 with knee problems. He only averaged 3.8 yards per carry last season with a disappointing two touchdowns, so he’ll certainly be under pressure to perform. Four time 1,000 yard rusher Deuce McAllister was released, but his replacement, Pierre Thomas, looks to be the real deal. Thomas led the team last season with 625 yards and nine touchdowns on an impressive 4.8 yards per carry. He only started five games and carried the ball just 129 times in 2008 though, so the speed at which he matures will be vital to the Saints’ playoff aspirations.
Jeremy Shockey’s arrival in New Orleans has been a disappointment so far, as he caught only 50 balls and failed to make it into the end zone in 2008. Shockey, former first round pick Robert Meachem, and Colston, who missed time with torn finger ligaments, will need to step up this year. Lance Moore led the team in catches (79), and yardage (928) last season, while Devery Henderson led the entire league with 24.8 yards per catch. Last season’s seventh round pick, receiver Adrian Arrington out of Michigan, was impressive in camp but missed the season with turf toe.
The list of changes on defense is lengthy. Main cogs Jonathan Vilma (151 tackles), fellow linebacker Scott Fujita, and linemen Will Smith, Sedrick Ellis, and Charles Grant remain, but safeties Josh Bullocks and Terrence Holt, cornerbacks Aaron Glenn and Mike McKenzie, and tackles Hollis Thomas and Brian Young are gone, along with a short list of reserves. Among the new additions are safeties Darren Sharper and Pierson Prioleau, tackle Roderick Coleman, cornerback Jabari Greer, and end Paul Spicer. First round pick Malcolm Jenkins, a cornerback out of Ohio State, could also play safety. It will be interesting to see if the defense can gel well enough as a group under Williams to be a contender.
Second year kicker Garrett Hartley, who made all 13 of his field goals last season, will be the full time field goal kicker. Courtney Roby was great on kickoff returns and will get a shot to keep it up, and Bush, who returned three for touchdowns, will continue to handle punts.
Sean Payton is certainly on the hot seat here. There’s some star power on the team, and the NFC South, though competitive, is winnable. In a win-now league, patience may be wearing thin for Payton’s unusual style. He’ll probably have to win a playoff game this season to keep his job. This team has just as much potential to win the Super Bowl as it does to finish in last place.