| About us | Privacy Policy | Contact us | Sitemap
Home News Forum Blog Standings Roster Players Schedule Depth Chart Stats Photos Videos
steve-smith-nfl-new-orleans-saints-vs-carolina-panthers Steve Smith NFL New Orleans Saints Vs Carolina Panthers...
All the latest New Orleans Saints Photos Store photographs. Football NFL.
week-13---saints-vs--49ers Week 13: Saints vs. 49ers...
All the latest New Orleans Saints Photos Store photographs. Football NFL.
saints-v-jacksonville Saints v Jacksonville...
All the latest New Orleans Saints Photos Store photographs. Football NFL.

New Orleans Saints News

News » SAINTS AHEAD OF THE FIELD


SAINTS AHEAD OF THE FIELD


SAINTS AHEAD OF THE FIELD
In their quest to win the NFC South Division in 2009, the Saints already took care of the most important order of business last season.


They finished in last place.

During the first five years of the division's existence, the last-place team went on to win the South the following year. The Falcons finally broke the streak last season when they "settled" for an 11-5 record and a wild-card playoff berth.

Judging by the way things have been shaping up in the South so far this offseason, the Saints appear well on their way to keeping the tradition alive.

By almost any measure, they've had the most successful offseason of any NFC South team. At the very least, they've been the most stable.

While the Falcons, Panthers and Buccaneers appear to have taken some steps backward, the Saints have retained all of their key personnel and added three or four nice complementary pieces -- the most significant being new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Of course that doesn't guarantee success six months from now, when these teams finally will kick off in the competition that counts. But it's sure been a good start for the Saints, especially considering this was supposed to be a quiet offseason for them, with a shortage of salary-cap space and draft picks at their disposal.

Here's a breakdown of how each NFC South team has taken shape so far in 2009:

--- CAROLINA (2008 record: 12-4) ---

Added: None

Re-signed: DE Julius Peppers (franchise tag), LT Jordan Gross

Lost: C Geoff Hangartner (Buffalo), T Frank Omiyale (Chicago), WR D.J. Hackett (released), G/T Jeremy Bridges (released), RB Nick Goings (released)

Breakdown: The division champs haven't fallen too far, retaining all 22 of their starters on offense and defense so far. But they've lost three key backups on their offensive line, they've been too cap-strapped to add any players, and they've been shopping both Peppers and starting cornerback Ken Lucas to try to make room.

According to a report in the Charlotte Observer, Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney gave the "empty pockets" signal to a prominent agent during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month.

Like the Saints, the Panthers also decided to switch defensive coordinators, firing Mike Trgovac and hiring Ron Meeks from Indianapolis. Meeks is expected to model the defense after the "Tampa 2" system he used with the Colts, which could require a few personnel tweaks.

--- ATLANTA (11-5) ---

Added: None

Re-signed: P Michael Koenen (franchise tag), DE Chauncey Davis, LB Tony Gilbert, TE Justin Peelle

Lost: LB Michael Boley (NY Giants), LB Keith Brooking (Dallas), CB Domonique Foxworth (Baltimore), DT Grady Jackson (Detroit), OT Todd Weiner (retired), S Lawyer Milloy (not expected to be re-signed)

Breakdown: It's hard to question the Falcons and second-year General Manager Thomas Dimitroff. They shook up their roster in a similar fashion last year and went from a four-win team to an 11-win team, but the names of some of those defensive players they lost really jump off the page.

As Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jeff Schultz wrote: "His benefit of the doubt isn't anywhere close to expiring. But at the very least, Dimitroff is playing a dangerous game."

The positive spin in Atlanta is that the team chose to let all those players leave, and that none of them individually is irreplaceable. And Dimitroff prefers to build through the draft rather than go on a free agent shopping spree.

But as the Saints learned all too well in 2006 and 2007, it's not easy for out-of-nowhere teams to maintain the magic two years in a row.

--- TAMPA BAY (9-7) ---

Added: RB Derrick Ward (NY Giants), TE Kellen Winslow (trade with Cleveland), K Mike Nugent (NY Jets), LB Niko Koutouvides (Denver)

Re-signed: WR Antonio Bryant (franchise tag), S Jermaine Phillips, S Will Allen, WR Michael Clayton, WR Cortez Hankton, TE Jerramy Stevens

Lost: LB Derrick Brooks (released), CB Phillip Buchanon (Detroit), DT Jovan Haye (Tennessee), LB Cato June (released), QB Jeff Garcia (released), RB Warrick Dunn (released), WR Joey Galloway (released), WR Ike Hilliard (released)

Breakdown: The radical makeover in Tampa began in January, when the Bucs fired Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Bruce Allen and replaced them with 32-year-old coach Raheem Morris and GM Mark Dominik.

Then on the eve of free agency, they dumped one of the most popular players in franchise history, Brooks, along with several other starters on both sides of the ball -- giving them a reported $60 million to work with under the salary cap.

They haven't spent all that money, mostly because they lost out on coveted free-agent defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. But they have been active, signing Ward and trading for Winslow.

As Chicago Tribune columnist Dan Pompei described the action: "If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had been any more active in the last few weeks, they may have been given a prescription for Ritalin."

It would also be foolish to doubt the Bucs. Similar makeovers have led to plenty of Cinderella stories in the NFC South -- thus the worst-to-first tradition. But clearly, they still have some work to do.

Tampa Bay needs a quarterback to emerge, from inside or outside the current crop of candidates (Brian Griese, Luke McCown and Josh Johnson). And holes still need plugging at linebacker and cornerback, among other spots. . . . At least money won't be an issue.

--- Saints (8-8) ---

Added: CB Jabari Greer (Buffalo), FB Heath Evans (New England), TE Dan Campbell (Detroit), LB Dan Morgan (un-retired)

Re-signed: LB Jonathan Vilma, OT Jon Stinchcomb, WR Devery Henderson, LB Troy Evans

Lost: RB Deuce McAllister (released), FB Mike Karney (released), WR David Patten (released)

Breakdown: The only move the Saints absolutely had to make was re-signing Vilma, but they were surprisingly active all week long, signing Stinchcomb, Henderson, Greer and Evans.

They're almost done tweaking now. They still are looking to add a free safety, and they still may release another veteran or two. But so far, it appears as though their "quiet" offseason is allowing them to sneak up on the competition.

. . . . . . .

Mike Triplett can be reached at mtriplett@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3405.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 9, 2009

• Bush sets RB record with 200th catch (AP...
 Posted By you_re_saint
• Saints' Payton determined to enforce dis...
 Posted By you_re_saint
• Saints CB Porter placed on injured reser...
 Posted By you_re_saint
• Saints CB Porter undergoes wrist surgery...
 Posted By you_re_saint
• Monday Scrapbook, Week 5, #6: He's not g...
 Posted By you_re_saint
• Correction: Vikings-Saints story (AP)...
 Posted By you_re_saint
• Bush, Winfield awarded for dazzling perf...
 Posted By you_re_saint
• Saints put Gramatica on IR, sign Mehlhaf...
 Posted By you_re_saint
• Saints place K Gramatica on injured rese...
 Posted By you_re_saint
• Handful of Lions considered trade bait (...
 Posted By you_re_saint
Jason Ferguson Name: Jason Ferguson
#95
Position: DT
Age: 33
Experience: 12 years
College: Georgia
Copyright © Saintshome.com, Inc. All rights reserved 2018.