I haven’t heard a lot of chatter about the Saints lately. Somehow their 6-3 record seems to have gone below the radar. Maybe it’s how they’ve won those games, or their overall inconsistency, that has caused people to sleep on the defending champs when it comes to conversations about the best teams in the NFC.
Don’t fall into that trap. The Saints are about to return from their bye week, and I’m expecting a resurgence.
A few weeks ago when the Saints were struggling, they would beat a good team and then lose to a team that was considered inferior. They lost at Arizona to rookie QB Max Hall. They lost at home to the Browns, who at the time were not thought to be very good. Losses like those left everyone wondering what was wrong with the Saints.
First, the Saints had to get healthy. They got starting cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer back, and Darren Sharper made his first start of the season against Carolina in Week 9. So it shouldn’t have been too big of a surprise they scored their first defensive touchdown of the season against the Panthers, something that was a staple of their defense last season, when they scored seven.
The Saints are built to be a ball-hawking defense that feeds on turnovers. They weren’t getting them earlier this season, but still rank No. 3 overall in total defense. Last season, they were ranked in the 20s, but the difference was they took the ball away frequently. The impact was dramatic. If they can continue their consistent play, and bring back the turnovers, the Saints will return to being a formidable defense.
And, oh yeah, that guy named Drew Brees is still around. So is Marques Colston. Jeremy Shockey is healthy again, and Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas are expected back soon. They’ve even added some new elements in Chris Ivory, Ladell Betts and Jimmy Graham. Lance Moore has been terrific, and is taking a lot of the plays that were designated for Bush and producing at a high level.
I also believe that many take Sean Payton for granted. He’s been masterful at handling this team. He told them three weeks ago that they hadn’t played up to their potential, and then they went out and defeated the Steelers at home and the Panthers on the road.
If you want to jump back on the Saints’ bandwagaon, better jump quickly. Room will be running out.