5 Reasons The New Orleans Saints Get Back to the Super Bowl in 2011
The 2011 NFL lockout has already made the 2011 NFL season interesting and no one has even played a regular game yet. Because of the lockout restricting all NFL business for the majority of the off season, teams have only had a few weeks to take care of things that are normally spread out over the course of a few months. Trades, signings and moves are being made at a frantic pace that can almost be compared to kids picking teams on a playground. Teams like Philly are already calling themselves the "Dream Team." Some teams have turmoil and conflict from within the organization and the huddle, and seemingly through this NFL gumbo of excitement and drama, the New Orleans Saints are comfortably flying under the radar as they approach a 2011 season that according to BleacherReport, can easily see the Black & Gold back in the Super Bowl.
Many forget that by the time the Saints hit the playoffs, they were so banged up at the running back position, that Heath Evans had to carry the team as the main man in the backfield. Even as a die hard Saints fan, I will go on the record and say that the most obvious reason why the Saints missed out on the Super Bowl last season was due to our serious lack of a backfield. So what's different this year? Well, the Saints lost Reggie, but due to injuries he barely saw the field; and when he did, even he knew he wasn't worth the money the Saints were paying him. Let's not fail to mention the two non-Heisman winning no name running backs named Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory who were carrying the workload in the backfield anyway. They are both back, along with the addition of SEC Heisman-winning standout Mark Ingram. All of sudden, the team with the biggest running back problems last season may have the best backfield in the NFL. Oh, did I mention they also signed a guy named Darren Sproles?
Due to NFL lockout, many teams have been thrown off and some have even encountered injuries in training camp already due to the lack of needed preparation in the weight room and younger players having to learn on the fly. The Saints will be better off than many other teams because of the voluntary workouts in the offseason led by team captain Drew Brees. Brees helped to mentor the young guys on offense, while Jonathan Vilma did the same on defense. Did I mention that he also picked up the tab for their stay and their workouts? What rookie wouldn't want to play for a guy who showed that kind of leadership?
As mentioned earlier, in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Saints got running back Mark Ingram, but they also managed to pick up a monster defensive end named Cam Jordan and outside linebacker Martez Wilson. They also got a stellar ball-hawking athletic defensive back named Johnny Patrick. These players aren't gonna see the sideline in hopes for a chance to play. These men are ready for the NFL and will contribute. The Saints also made some great free-agent moves signing 6-time pro-bowl center Olin Kreutz, defensive tackle Aubrayo Frankin and a speedy running back named Darren Sproles, who will fill the Reggie Bush void nicely, and then some. No word on Heath Evans and Darren Sharper yet, but as far as the other free agents go, the Saints have re-signed Lance Moore, Roman Harper, David Thomas and Carl Nicks. If anyone is keeping count, the Saints now have 4 players starting on the offensive line that have made the pro bowl. Go ahead Drew take your time.
If anyone watched that playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks last year you may remember a 67-yd TD run by Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch. With 3 minutes left, that epic run helped the Seahawks stun the Saints 41-36 and eliminate the defending Super Bowl Champions from the playoffs and squash any hopes of "Two Dat." Recently, Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has stated that he still hasn't gotten over the loss and it "still chaps his ass." He has stacked his defense with younger, talented players that definitely look a LOT different coming off the bus. Don't expect this Gregg Williams defense to show ANY mercy this year.
The Saints won the Super Bowl in 2009 because of great leadership and genius of Sean Payton and Gregg Williams. They're back. They also had great players who were leaders as well in Drew Brees and Jonathan Vilma. They're back too, and hungrier than ever. Brees is a competitor. Payton and Williams have schemes and plays on offense and defense that produce nightmares for opposing squads. They now have both experience and talent returning plus additional talent added. That combination that has the Saints more than ready to make another run for the Super Bowl and the NFL title.