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31

2007 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS PREVIEW

Here we are again on the cusp of a new preseason in the NFL and our favorite team has taken strides to surpass the accomplishments of an overachieving 2006 season. The defending NFC South Champion New Orleans Saints have plugged gaps in the roster by adding much needed quality depth through the draft. The free agent market also provided luxuries in allowing New Orleans to bolster their starting lineup with a veteran presence.

The defense, which many so-called experts were deceived into thinking were awful is what will propel this team to a new level this season. Gary Gibbs’ unit finished ranked #11 in total defense, which is respectable, but gave up too many big plays in critical times. The horrendous late season play of Fred Thomas led to many teams being able to hang in there when the offense seemed to put a them away. The defensive line seemed soft against the run as the season rolled along, and the linebacker corps simply did not have the depth or nastiness to make game changing plays or creation of turnovers. In my opinion, the weakest links on this defense were Josh Bullocks and Mark Simoneau. Suitable as backups, but they were definitely not up to the task of, “right place right time.”

The addition of 4 year veteran CB Jason David, acquired from the Indianapolis Colts as a restricted free agent and playmaking S Kevin Kaesviharn from the Bengals will pay dividends early and often. Throw in the “field general” mentality of SS Roman Harper who returns from a torn ACL and a beefed up defensive line, the Saints should finish atop the division again and make a stronger challenge for a conference championship.

Aside from the defense, coach Sean Payton needs to develop a big boy game plan when coaching against the likes of the Chicago Bears. While battling the Bears’ top ranked defense and the elements of a January in the Windy City, coach Payton managed a game as if he was playing Mc Neese St. He refused to stray from a streetball gameplan that could’ve been adjusted at the half when we were down 16-7

Nathan Rideaux

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