New Orleans Saints 2012 Team Preview

August 17, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of a preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

The 2011 campaign for the New Orleans Saints was fairly successful, the only think that could have made it better was a Superbowl win. They finished 13-3 and champions of the NFC South Division. Drew Brees broke Dan Marino’s single season passing record throwing for 5,476 yards which clearly was the NFL’s best passing attack.

The rushing attack was done almost on a committee basis with Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory all sharing carries. It was good enough for the 6th best running game in the NFL averaging 132.9 yards per game

However they still weren’t good enough to earn a first round bye. They beat the Detroit Lions who had an exceptional season in the NFC Wild Card Round, but lost to the reemerging San Francisco 49ers, who they lost a tiebreaker to for a first round bye.

More importantly people will remember 2011 for the New Orleans Saints as the last season of the famed “bounty gate” scandal. It came out that defensive players were pooling their money and paying each other for excessive hits on opposing teams players and were getting improper incentives to injure opposing players.

2011 Record: 13-3

Key Additions:

  • LB Curtis Lofton
  • DT Brodrick Bunkley
  • G Ben Grubbs
  • LB David Hawthorne

Key Losses:

  • HC Sean Payton
  • LB Jonathan Vilma
  • G Carl Nicks

Offense: Drew Brees is coming off a record year, throwing for more yards than anyone else in NFL history. They have talent and depth at running back with Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Heisman Trophy Winner Mark Ingram but someone needs to step up and be the man. At WR they have a consistent option in Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham at TE has been a passing threat as well.

Defense: New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo lost his defensive leader in Jonathan Vilma, and might get him back after 8 games. The front office though added quality talent like MLB Curtis Lofton who quietly has been one of the best in the league and they brought in an athletic DT in Brodrick Bunkley.

Coaching: There isn’t much the coaches can do to improve, they’re just trying to get by. Head coach Sean Payton is suspended for a whole year, they named Joe Vitt as the interim coach during Payton’s absence, but he too is suspended for the first 6 games. They’re just trying to maintain a culture of success in New Orleans.

Breakout Player: Mark Ingram

2012 Prediction: 10-6

Overview: Unfortunately expecting the 2012 to be as successful as the 2011 is a little too optimistic. The NFL came down on the New Orleans Saints with heavy sanctions. They suspended head coach Sean Payton for the season. The interim coach Joe Vitt is suspended for the first 6 games, the GM Mickey Loomis is suspended for 8 games. Not to mention defensive leader, LB Jonathan Vilma is out for the year as well but is negotiating a reduction in his sanctions. Fortunately the Saints brought in LBs to fill the void created by Vilma’s suspension. The NFC South is a tough division, with the Falcons usually in the top tier of NFC teams.