New Orleans Saints 2009 NFL Projection:
When speaking of the Saints, the first point of conversation is of course their supercharged
offense headed by Drew Brees-- who last season
nearly broke Dan Marino's single season passing yards
Brees has a great offensive line protecting him, led by right guard Jahri Evans,
center Jonathan Goodwin, and left tackle Jammal Brown.
Unfortunately, Brown is expected to miss a couple of games in the early going with a sports hernia.
Jermon Bushrod will substitute in his absence. It probably won't be much of an issue
week 1 versus Detroit. But it could prove to be problematic on the road against better defenses
like Philadelphia in week 2, at Buffalo in week 3, and even home versus the Jets in week 4.
Moving on to the rest of the Saints' offense; during the end of last season, RB Pierre Thomas
burst on the scene, becoming a fantasy dynamo in the final six weeks of '08.
He's got a hurt knee and may not be ready in time to start the season. Mike Bell would see action in his place.
Meanwhile, Reggie Bush claims to be at 100%. And that's good news considering his game changing abilities.
The Saints are solid at receiver with Marcus Colston, Lance Moore,
and deep threat Devery Henderson.
Saints fans are also looking for big things from a healthy Jeremy Shockey in 2009... And perhaps more
from WR Robert Meachem who appears ready to step up.
The only thing standing in the way of the Saints offense in 2009 is injury.
But in that regard they're starting out on the wrong foot in '09.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints finished 23rd in team defense in '08.
New defensive coordinator Greg Williams brings an attacking style. Look for the Saints to
be much more aggressive than in years past.
Last season's biggest defensive sore spot was defending the pass.
New Orleans took steps to address this weakness in the offseason with the
signing of FS Darren Sharper from Minnesota, CB Jabari Greer from Buffalo,
and the drafting of CB Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State.
With cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Randall Gay already in the fold, the Saints should field a
much improved group of corners.
However, the same cannot be said for their safeties.
But overall the Saints should get much better play from the secondary in 2009.
Besides MLB Jonathan Vilma, the Saints' linebacking group is not a strong unit.
Another major key to New Orleans' defensive success in '09 may be the play of
DT Sedrick Ellis. If he can stuff the run, it will make life easier for their thin linebacking group.
Of course the status of defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith are paramount.
They were both injured last season. But now
they are suspended for the first 4 games of 2009. However, there's a chance they might
be able to suit up depending on how the legalities of the situation unfold.
The Saints could probably get away without their presence week 1 versus Detroit.
But other early opponents such as the Eagles and Jets field solid offensive lines--
so the pair of DE's would definitely be
missed in weeks two & four...
Overall, a healthy Grant and Smith should provide the Saints with an improved pass rush
year over year.
On paper, New Orleans plays one of the stiffer schedules in the league in '09, in part due to drawing
the NFC East.
Fortunately, division rival contenders Atlanta and Carolina are in a similar boat.
The Saints have some injuries on offense to open the season. They're also facing
a suspension situation with their starting defensive ends.
On the plus side,
New Orleans looks vastly improved on defense heading into the new campaign.
It would seem to reason this is the season New Orleans plays well on both
sides of the ball at once... But their stiff
schedule could prove to be a major stumbling block in their quest for double digit wins.
Overall we forecast an (8-8) mark for the Saints in '09.
How the Saints fair against the NFC East is likely to make or break their season.
If New Orleans can win 2 of those games, then a trip to the postseason may be very likely.
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