Kristian: 3 Musts for the Saints to return to the post-season
Kristian@wwl.com - After a disappointing 7 and 9 record in 2012, the Saints turn their attention to making it back to the playoffs in 2013. From 2009 to 2011, the Saints had a historical run: Qualifying for the post-season in each year, winning a Super Bowl, and establishing themselves as one of the NFL’s perennial powers.
Now, for the Saints to make a return trip to the post-season three things MUST happen in 2013.
Payton Power: To borrow a quote from the Empire Strikes Back, “Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!”
Well, you know what I mean…In the upcoming weeks, we’ll fully understand the power and influence of Sean Payton on the season. He undoubtedly has diagnosed what went wrong last season with a football team that at times looked unfocused and lacked discipline. I think this is the most fixable of three ailments that plagued them a year ago. Payton will have a razor-sharp focus restored to his football team this season, and a workman’s like approach day in and day out.
Commitment to the run: The Saints averaged less than 100 yards a game last season on the ground, 25th in the NFL. At times they simply couldn’t run the ball, and other times they refused to run the ball. Upon his reinstatement to the NFL in January, Sean Payton pledged a more committed running game this season. The Saints have the running backs and the personnel to get it done on the ground. With Payton back calling the plays, look for the Saints to really get back to a balanced offensive approach. In 2009 and 2011, the Saints racked up 13 wins in each of those campaigns in large part because they ranked 6th in the league in rushing. That’s the magic number, if they’re 6 or higher…LOOK OUT! This offense will once again go on some record breaking missions.
Defensive strides: There is nowhere to go but up when you are the worst defense in the NFL a year ago. With that said, Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan might have one of the toughest jobs in the league this season. Can he turn around a unit that was gashed for big plays week in and week out last season? Ryan doesn’t have to recreate the ‘85 Bears D, but just play somewhere in the middle of the pack and have an opportunistic unit that can get the ball back in Drew Brees’ hands. If the Saints can create field position for the offense with quick three and outs, and force 20 turnovers this season they’re in the hunt. If they can score on defense on a few more, it will be scary good.