Co-Host of WWL's "SportsTalk with Bobby Hebert & Deke Bellavia," Weekdays 4-8PM
Deke's Training Camp preview part II: Coach Payton is back!
by Deke Bellavia,posted Jul 23 2013 3:39PM
Mark Schlereth, current NFL analyst for ESPN and former NFL offensive guard, visited with Bobby and me earlier this summer. The three-time Super Bowl Champion was talking to us about whether or not he thought NFL players deserved workers compensation if they were injured while playing in a game in a certain state.
While we had Mark on, we obviously asked him his thoughts on the Saints' 2013 season. Schlereth started off by talking about the impact that Saints Coach Sean Payton being back makes for the Black and Gold.
“I’m so excited for their opportunities," Schlereth said. "Obviously getting Sean Payton back is such a huge deal for the New Orleans Saints.”
Schlereth explained that having Coach Payton makes a big difference at every practice, and the Saints not having Coach Payton last season made a huge difference.
Prior to the 2012 season, the Saints had won a league best 41 games during a three-year span that included two NFC South Division Titles, four post-season wins and a Super Bowl victory.
Schlereth thinks that the Saints offense will only be better with Coach Payton back at the helm.
“Offensively the Saints have to be looked at as one of the top teams in the National Football League from an offensive standpoint,” he told us.
Schlereth pointed out that even without Coach Payton being with the team last year, the Saints still maintained one of the best offensive units in the league during the 2012 season.
Schlereth broke down the New Orleans Saints rushing the football. Schlereth, who was a part of three great rushing attacks while winning three world titles with Washington and Denver, full well knows the importance of being able to run the football on a consistent basis.
“They dropped down to 25th in the NFL last season rushing the football. And the one thing about the Saints under Sean Payton is that they have always run the ball well. When you look back to the Super Bowl season the Saints were sixth in rushing. And they have always been a solid running team under Coach Payton.”
Schlereth likes the way the Saints distribute the ball among their core group of running backs.
“I think a reason why they rush the ball so well is that they spread the ball through three or four backs and a lot of guys get to touch the football. But they still run the ball efficiently. The Saints are going to have to get back to doing that,” he said.
Schlereth then pointed out his concerns about the Saints going into the 2013 season. No matter who we interview or talk to, everyone has the same major concern about the Saints this season, and that is their defense!
“The problems that obviously we know, 31st in scoring defense, 32nd in total defense, and the Saints were last against the rush in the league, and they were second to last against the pass. And that is going to be the big question mark about this team. Can they rectify that (the defense).”
The former Redskin and Broncos Champion pointed out that the Saints getting back to rushing the football will help the defense in more ways than one. “Just running the football under Sean Payton will help the Saints defense. You spend more time in possession of the football and you can give you defense better rest.”
Even had Bobby and not asked about the Sean Payton factor, every former player, coach or analyst we talked to pointed out that the return of Sean Payton alone makes the Saints a dangerous team in 2013 in the NFL.