Don’t Forget About Us!
January 2, 2011 8 Comments
In their final game of the season with the possibility of overtaking the Atlanta Falcons in the very competitive NFC South the Saints came out flat against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even though the likelihood of Carolina Panthers beating the Falcons was slim to none with a division title on the line, the Saints still didn’t put forth a performance of a Super Bowl Contender.
The Buccaneers were better than the Saints in virtually every aspect of the game. Drew Brees threw an interception for the 12th consecutive game and saying that is very uncharacteristic of him may even be a bit of a stretch with the way he has played this season.
However, we should not fall asleep with regards to the Saints and their chances at making a legitimate run at the Super Bowl.
After weathering their initial Super Bowl “hangover” the Saints seemed to hit their stride if you want to look at wins and losses exclusively, but it was evident that these were not those same Saints that won the NFL world over with their magical run last season.
With that being said, the Saints have shown flashes of returning to their Super Bowl form as a team. At numerous points during the year there were times when many people, including myself, thought “hey, they’re back.”
The Saints have laid the foundation that is needed to win a Super Bowl as they have lost very few players from their Super Bowl winning team. Outside linebacker Scott Fujita is probably the most notable of the players who did not return to the team this season. The issue has been putting it all together on a weekly basis.
There is no reason why the Saints can’t get hot for a four game stretch much like the New York Giants did when they slipped into the playoffs a few years back and knocked off the undefeated New England Patriots.
Drew Brees is probably the biggest factor when it comes to the Saints success as any quarterback is to their respective team. His ability to make almost every throw imaginable has been such a large part of what has made the Saints a great team.
I mentioned above his 12 consecutive games with at least one pick which is a remarkable feat for a guy one year removed from breaking the record for the highest completion percentage in a single season. His individual consistency essentially symbolizes what the New Orleans Saints have been like as a team throughout the season.
Nevertheless, Brees is still one of the most accurate passers in the history of the game. He has proven that he can handle the pressure of the big game and if he can perform in the playoffs in a similar manner to the way he executed against the Steelers in Week 8 when he threw for over 300 yards in a 20-10 victory then there is no telling what this team can do.
Their offence still ranks in the top 10 in the league in points, total yards and passing yards. Even though the team ranks 27th in rushing yards the running game has gained some steam in the last few weeks behind undrafted rookie Chris Ivory and the return of both Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas to the lineup.
More importantly though, their defence has not experienced too much of a dropoff in level as they rank 11th in total points allowed and 6th in total yards allowed. Although their total amount of so-called “takeaways” has fallen off with only 25 compared to 39 forced turnovers last year should not be such a cause for concern. Even though better defences are able to force more turnovers the Saints did it at an alarming rate last season that it was most likely not going to be repeated again this year. In my eyes, the amount of turnovers a team “forces” generally has more to do with the mistakes of the opposition rather than the supreme ability of the defence making this a stat that should even out to a certain extent over time and I think that is precisely what is taking place this season.
Moreover, for the better part of the season the defence was not stellar last year and if the offence plays like it should be able to then there is no need for the Saints defence to be extraordinary. Making the plays they are supposed to make and coming up with a big play on occasion may once again be enough for New Orleans.
The playoffs are a whole other beast and to forget about the Saints at this point would just be plain stupid. In a season where the Super Bowl is up for grabs more than ever, with no team able to take a stranglehold of top dog in the NFL, the Saints are primed to make a run at Vince Lombardi.
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