New Orleans Saints News: Regular Season and Preseason Updates
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4/10/14: The Denver Broncos certainly got the best years of cornerback Champ Bailey's career. He has been among the best corners in the NFL for a number of years, at least until last season. Bailey was injured for much of the season and played hurt. The Broncos had seen enough, thanked him and sent him on his way. He was replaced by Aqib Talib. The Saints don't think Bailey is washed up at this point though. New Orleans inked Champ to a two year deal last week to bolster the secondary, and make a very good defense even better.
4/3/14: The Saints had a remarkable turnaournd on defense last season. They were not a good defensive team in the 2012 season and promptly fired defensive coordinator (and all around good guy) Steve Spagnuolo. They hired Rob Ryan for the job, who quickly instructed his players to have fun and enjoy the game. The Saints defense did enjoy the game last season and were one of the best in the league. Give Ryan credit for connecting with his players and enjoying the short time that anyone who plays pro football is lucky enough to have, if even for just a year.
3/27/14: A few months ago, the Jimmy Graham camp said that they would file a grievance if the New Orleans Saints placed the franchise tag on him. The Saints did just that. The confusion comes on if Graham should be paid as a tight end or a wide receiver - a big $5 million difference, with more money going to a wide receiver designation. The Saints do not actually chose what position he would be designated as, that is a league matter. In any case, it has been almost four weeks now and there has been no grievance filed. That could mean that the team and Graham are working on a long-term deal which would make the franchise designation a moot point.
3/20/14: For several weeks, it looked like the Saints would release running back Darren Sproles as a salary cap casualty. Then something funny happened. A lot of teams wanted the diminutive back. So the Saints ended up not releasing him, but trading him to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fifth round pick. Sproles originally did not want to be traded, preferring to be a free agent with the ability to pick a team himself. In the end, he signed a two year extension with Philly and could be very effective as a complement to Lesean McCoy in Chip Kelly's offense. So maybe this works out well for both sides.
3/13/14: As expected, tight end Jimmy Graham got the franchise tag from the New Orleans Saints. That is not a big deal unto itself, but the NFL (and not the Saints) ruled that he was a tight end and not a wide receiver. There is a $5 million annual difference between the two, and Graham is on the wrong end of that. The Saints uses the 'non-exclusive' franchise tag, meaning that other teams can give Graham an offer sheet. The Saints can match it, or not match it. If the team does not match, then they would get two first round draft picks as compensation. It is doubtful that Graham leaves, but the Saints would be nicely compensated if he did.
3/6/14: The Saints announced they are increasing ticket prices, which would be the first time they have done so in three years. The biggest increase will be $10 per ticket but still one third of all tickets will cost $55 or less per game. Perhaps the Saints need the money in order to pay tight end Jimmy Graham. The team used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Graham, which now begs the question of whether he will be considered a tight end or wide receiver - and there is a $5 million difference next season between the two. It also means that another team could sign Graham to an offer sheet, which the Saints could or could not match. If the Saints do not match it, then they will get two first round picks as compensation.
2/27/14: The Saints should be considered one of the favorites for the NFC South title going into the 2014 season. They certainly have the offensive firepower to drop 50 points on anyone, and are one of the most consistent offensive forces in the league. The defense made great strides last season under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. They have already cut Jonathan Vilma in a salary cap move and their will probably be more coming. While the Saints and Panthers are at the top of the division, anyone could rise up in 2014 and win the NFC South. And no one would be surprised.
2/20/13: The Saints were able to get Graham under a long-term contract that should make everyone happy. Only this was kicker Shayne Graham and not star tight end Jimmy Graham. The Jimmy Graham contract saga will likely continue on for several more weeks. The big issue, of course, is not the value or length of a long term deal, but rather the value of a franchise tag if a long term deal cannot be reached. He is a tight end by definition and position in the majority of snaps. However, he plays more as a receiver, which would cost $4 million more next season under the franchise tag.
2/13/14: This will not be the last you hear of this topic. The Saints have to figure out what they are going to do with tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham is arguably the best pass-catching tight end in the league and puts up wide receiver numbers. With the franchise tag looming, he wants to be considered a WR and get WR money. The Saints want him listed as a tight end. Either way, if the Saints want to re-sign him, they will have to give him big bucks, which will limit the money available for other players. That means that the Saints may have to lose Graham, or lose other valuable players in order to keep him.
2/6/14: Saints QB Drew Brees may have gotten himself into a bit of trouble with teammate Jimmy Graham this past week. Graham is facing a franchise tag from the Saints and the big debate is if he will be considered a wide receiver or a tight end. That distinction is a big difference (a few million dollars). Brees said he is a tight end, which would cost less than a WR tag. However, Brees also said that he wants Graham back next year - which is a no brainer. Graham is probably the best tight end in the league, and a very potent weapon on the Saints offense.
1/30/14: The Saints biggest offensive threat is obviously QB Drew Brees. It is debatable after that (consider Maquis Coslton, Thomas Pierre, and Darren Sproles). However, tight end Jimmy Graham is on that list as well. The Saints may use the franchise tag on him, something that Graham is not particularly fond of. One big issue is whether he would be considered a tight end or wide receiver. There is a big difference in money between the two, and being set as a tight end would be less valuable in a contract. Of course, the Saints could avoid this problem by just signing him to a long-term contract.
1/23/14: The Saints had a great run this season, but it was simply cut short by a better team in Seattle. There is nothing to be ashamed of in the Crescent City, and they will likely be contenders next season. On another note, there has been a lot of speculation about defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Rob is the twin brother of the New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, and is just as ambitious. However, there have been reports that he will not be considered as a head coach until he cuts his hair. That seems ridiculous.
1/16/14: The Saints were able to exorcise one demon two weeks ago when they won their first road playoff game in franchise history. Unfortunately, they could not repeat that trick in the wind and rain of Seattle. The miserable conditions essentially eliminated the passing game for both teams, but that hurt the Saints more than the Seahawks. Seattle was able to rely on running back Marshawn Lynch, while the Saints really had no counter for that. New Orleans now enters the offseason where they will have to re-evaluate their offensive line and running game, in order to avoid being a one-dimensional team in the future.
1/9/14: The Saints proved that they are not the team that the media says they are by taking down the Eagles in the first round of the playoffs last Saturday. The pre-game narrative was how the Saints could not win on the road, or that the Saints could not win in the cold, or that the Drew Brees is a dome quarterback. The conditions in Philly were very cold, but none of that mattered as the Saints earned their first road playoff win in franchise history. So while the team had everything stacked against them, they found a way to move on to the next round.
1/2/14: The Saints looked to have the NFC South title wrapped up a few weeks ago, especially after they blew out the Carolina Panthers at home in Week 14. Then they lost to St. Louis and Carolina, and now find themselves in the fifth spot in the playoffs. Instead of getting a bye for the first round, they will head to Philadelphia. This should be a good game. Both teams have high-octane offenses and masterminds at the helm. Drew Brees has the experience, but Nick Foles has the homefield. Kickoff is at 8:10pm EST on Saturday, January 4.
12/26/13: The Saints' fortune has taken a turn for the worse of late. They were essentially crowned the NFC South champs several weeks ago, but a tremendous surge by the Panthers (coupled with bad road games by the Saints) has changed the tide. By losing 17-13 to Carolina last Sunday, the Saints are not assured a playoff spot. They will have win the regular season finale against Tampa in order to have a shot at the postseason. If they do make it, then they will have to win on the road, which has been a problem all season.
12/19/13: A funny thing happened on the way to the NFC South title - the five win Rams decimated the New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees may have thrown for 393 yards, but he only connected for one touchdown. Actually, this was a game of the Rams offense simply playing old-school football. They ran the ball, they controlled the clock, and they struck when they had the chance. The Saints loss makes this week's game against the Carolina Panthers even more important. Both have 10 wins and the Saints have the tie-breaker, but a Panthers win puts Carolina squarely in the driver's seat heading for playoffs.
12/12/13: The Saints must have gotten tired of hearing how their window was closing and how the upstart Carolina Panthers were about to take their place at the top of the NFC South, because the Saints overwhelmed the Panthers 37-13 last Sunday night. Carolina rode an eight game winning streak to match the Saints at the top of the division, but now the Saints hold the edge. After going down by six in the first quarter, the Saints put up 21 points against the stout Panthers' defense in the second quarter and that was all they needed. This is not over yet. The teams meet again in Carolina in Week 16.
12/5/13: There is no doubt that New Orleans is a good team, but they went up against a buzzsaw in Seattle last Monday. The Seahawks are dominant at home and have won their last 14 home games. Some people question the Saints on the road, but the truth is that no one has won more road games than New Orleans since 2009. It did not matter on this particular night as the Seattle defense simply dominated the Saints high flying offense. They kept Drew Brees to under 200 yards for the first time in 43 games, which is two shy of the record held by former San Diego Chargers QB Dan Fouts. No time to rest for the Saints, they host the red hot Carolina Panthers this Sunday.
11/28/13: The Saints continue their romp through the NFL season as they posted a 17-13 win over the host Atlanta Falcons last Thursday. QB Drew Breese was solid as usual. He was 23-33 for 278 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the night. The interesting thing about this game was that neither team could effectively score. All but three points were in the first half as defenses ruled the day. New Orleans is now 9--2 and heads to Seattle (10-1) for the Monday Night Game before playing two of their following three games against the Carolina Panthers.
11/21/13: The Saints survived a big test at home last Sunday by beating the San Francisco 49ers' 23-20. New Orleans improved to 8-2 and remains on top of the NFC South with the win. The Saints were aided by a late roughing the passer call which kept the game alive enough for the win. Drew Brees threw for 305 yards and a touchdown, while Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram combined for only 74 yards on the ground. The Saints have a short week to get themselves back in full assault mode, as they face the Falcons (2-8) in Atlanta on Thursday.
11/14/13: New Orleans rebounded well from their stunning loss to the New York Jets by dismantling the Dallas Cowboys 49-17 last Sunday. In what was supposed to be a shoot out, only one team's offense showed up and that was Drew Brees and the Saints. New Orleans' defense stiffled the Cowboys attack forcing Tony Romo into one of his worst games of the season. New Orleans still controls the NFC South with a 7-2 record, but needs to be wary of the surging Carolina Panthers. The Saints have a great showdown this week at home against the 6-3 San Francisco 49ers.
11/7/13: The New Orleans Saints got a rude awakening last Sunday, falling 26-20 to the New York Jets at the Meadowlands. It was a (Rex) Ryan vs. (Rob) Ryan battle, pitting the twin brothers against each other, and Rex came out on top for the third time in three tries. The Saints were forced to pass 51 times as they could not run the ball. Drew Brees had 392 yards passing and two touchdowns, but also threw two costly interceptions.Meanwhile, the Saints defense could not slow down former Saint Chris Ivory who ran for 139 yards and a score. The Saints fell to 6-2 on the season. They host Dallas (5-4) in the Sunday Night Game in Week 10.
10/31/13: The Saints rolled to an easy 35-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday. The Saints scored in every quarter, including two touchdowns in the second quarter to take the lead for good, then shut down the desperate Bills offense that was led by QB Thadeous Lewis. Drew Brees had another outstanding day with 332 yards in the air and five touchdown passes Rookie wide receiver Kenny Stills had three receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns in the best game of his young career. New Orleans is still dominating the NFC South and heads to the Big Apple to take on the Jets in Week 9.
10/24/13: The Saints enjoyed their bye week in Week 7 doing their best to avoid the temptations that come with being young men with time and money on their hands. The last game they had was one to forget as they allowed Tom Brady and the Patriots to score a last second touchdown to win the game. New Orleans is 5-1 on the season and has a commanding lead in the NFC South - their nearest rival is Carolina and they are several games back. The Saints are back in action in Week 8 as they host the Buffalo Bills and their quarterback du jour.
10/17/13: The Saints game in New England was one of the most anticipated of last weekend. It was not the offensive shootout that many people had hoped would result from a battle of two of the best quarterbacks in the league. The Saints held a lead late in the game but could not runout out the clock - giving the Patriots one last chance. While some Saints players prematurely celebrated, Tom Brady threw the game winning TD with five seconds left. The loss puts the Saints at 5-1 on the season as they head into their bye week.
10/10/13: Drew Brees earned his first career victory in Soldier Field last Sunday after losing his in his previous three attempts. Brees was efficient if not spectacular. He threw for 288 yards and two scores in the 26-18 win over the Chicago Bears. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham continues to show he is the best at his position. He had 135 yards on ten receptions, and now looks like he is the number one receiver in the Saints system. New Orleans is 5-0 on the year and in complete control of the NFC South. The Saints get a big test this Sunday when they head to New England to face the Patriots (4-1)
10/3/13: The Saints made it look easy in the Monday Night Game against the Dolphins, who also entered the game at 3-0. Quarterback Drew Brees simply picked apart the Miami defense. He threw for well over 400 yards and four touchdowns on the night. Tight end Jimmy Graham was exceptional as always, and is making other teams regret passing on him in the draft a couple of years ago. The final score was 38-17, but it was really not that close. New Orleans goes on the road in Week 5 for a very tough match up against the 3-1 Chicago Bears.
9/26/13: The Saints returned to form last Sunday. The previous week, in Tampa, the Saints offense struggled in the wet weather. This time, in the comfort of their home dome, the Saints exploded on the Cardinals for a 31-7 win. Drew Brees threw for over 340yards and three TDs and the Saints' defense completely shut down Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald. The Saints have passed every test presented to them and stand at 3-0 and on top of the NFC South division. New Orleans has another home game in Week 4. They host the surprising 3-0 Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
9/19/13: The Saints continue to show the league that they are indeed back. The team is now 2-0, and more importantly, 2-0 in the NFC South. Their latest victory came in Tampa in a game that was delayed for significant time due to lightning. Once the players got to play, the Saints were able to outlast the dysfuncitonal Bucs. Drew Brees did not have his typical 350 yards and 3 TD day, but had just enough to pull out the win. The Saints get a different type of challenge on Sunday when they host the Arizona Cardinals, who have a better defense than they have seen thus far.
9/12/13: The Saint are trying to prove they are back, and they did so in a most impressive fashion. New Orleans hosted Atlanta and walked out of the Super Dome with a 23-17 win over the defending NFC South champions. Drew Breese was his normal impressive self, so no news there. The real news was the effectiveness of the Saints' defense in limiting the high-flying Falcons to just 17 points. Granted, Falcons WR Roddy White was hurt and used mostly as a decoy, but that is far better than last season. The Saints get their first road test this Sunday when they travel to Tampa to face the 0-1 Bucs.
9/4/13: They finally got the band back together. Expectations are high in New Orleans now that the team has had a 'normal' offseason with all of their starting personnel. Key among that is head coach Sean Peyton and his return from a year long suspension. The Saints will again have a potent offense - they always do with Drew Breese around - so the real question marks are on defense. Rob Ryan is the new defensive coordinator and has the task of rebuilding a unit that was historically bad last season. The Saints open up on Sunday against the defending NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons.
8/29/13: New Orleans is trying to sell their team as being finally whole and ready to contend again. True, they do have all the suspension messes taken care of, and true, the offense is still top notch. However, their defense was historically bad last year. They gave up 900 more yards than the next defense. The Saints brought in Rob Ryan to be the defensive coordinator, though maybe they failed to notice that he has never had a top ten defense. While the Saints should be a bit better on defense this year, it is hard to imagine them being able to truly contend without being able to stop anyone.
8/22/13: The Saints first team offense already looks like it is midseason form. Breese has torched defenses in limited duties. WR Marques Colston is hauling in passes, and tight end Jimmy Graham is showing that he is the best at his position in the league. The defense is another story. The team has not gelled yet with the 3-4 that new DC Rob Ryan is installing. If the defense cannot get it together soon, then the Saints are in for a lot of shoot-outs this year that may resemble Arena League football games more than the NFL.
8/15/13: Under the leadership of head coach Sean Payton, the Saints have been a passing team, with seemingly little thought to the run game. Even plays to running backs are often screen passes, which has made Darren Sproles a highly sought after player in fantasy football. Payton, however, is stressing more balance this year, and expects more rushing play calls. This is good news for former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. Ingram has missed a lot of games due to injury, but the third year player could be in line for a break out season if Payton is true to his word.
8/8/13: For all the charitable work that Drew Brees has done, and all the money he has given to charities during the course of his career (including $1 million for Hurricane Katrina relief), the star QB of the Saints has found himself looking like a cheapskate. Apparently, Breese ordered some take out food with a bill of $74 and only left a three dollar tip. That may seem stingy, and critics (of course) are calling for his head. On the other hand, it was a take out order and not wait service. Perhaps it is stingy, but, then again, it is not mandatory to tip (though always appreciated).
8/1/13: The Saints drafted defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis out of USC with the 7th overall pick. Many experts immediately heralded the pick, claiming this was a franchise DT to help the team for many years to come. Ellis played six years with the Saints, and even won a Super Bowl. Ellis was hurt for much of his first two seasons, but played well when available. But he regressed after that and the Saints finally cut him. He signed with the Bears this offseason, then abruptly retired as training camp started. It is a very strange story for a 28 year old player who, at one time, seemed destined for greatness.
7/25/13: Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is set to become the best tight end in the game this season. With Rob Gronkowski recovering from injury and Aaron Hernandez likely locked up for life, Graham is in position to claim the throne. In case anyone forgot, he is 6'7 with a 4.5 second time in the 40 yard dash. And he catches anything that comes his way. He is a nightmare matchup for defenses who cannot match either his size or speed. With him as the best in his position, the Saints offense will again be one of the best.
7/18/13: This is the first time in years that the Saits have had a 'normal' offseason. One year it was Hurricane Katrina, another was as the Super Bowl Champions, still another was in the wake of the bounty scandal when a lot people (players and coaches) were suspended. This year is normal. There should be no distractions other than Rob Ryan claiming to be much better than he really is (look up his Cowboys record). However, the window of opportunity is closing and this may be the Saints last/best chance to win another Super Bowl in the foreseeable future.
7/11/13: The Saints were a mess in so many facets last season, that it is fair just to write the 2012 campaign off. Defense was a problem (though not the only one), and DC Steve Spagnoulo was the scapegoat and got fired. The Saints rejoiced when they landed Rob Ryan as his replacement - essentially saying that he would be the difference maker this coming season. But looking at the numbers tells a different story. Ryan's defenses in Dallas were not that good. They routinely surrenderred over 30 points per game, leaving the offense to win games. Maybe this will work better in New Orleans, who have the better offense, however, it seems that Ryan is living on name alone at this point.
7/4/13: It seems funny when the question is asked if Drew Breese is still an elite quarterback. Of course he is, and there should be no question about it. The Saints finished 7-9 last season, but that was not on the offense. That was on the bounty scandal and defense. Breese continues to pick apart defenses and make unknown receivers stars in the league. Perhaps if he did not have to put up 35 points just be in the game, then the team would have won more last year. The Saints should be solid this time around. They have no more distractions or suspensions to deal with, and can concentrate on winning games.
6/27/13: New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins is loving the defense that is being installed this year under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Ryan uses a base 3-4 defense, rather than the more traditional 4-3 scheme used by last year's DC Steve Spagnoulo. It is not the scheme that he likes, however, it is that the unit has 'teeth' again. It is true that Spag's defense was awful last year, but he is being made out as a scapegoat. There were plenty of distractions in the past season. It is hard to call out the guy who ended the Patriots' undefeated season with a shocking upset as the reason for the the team's struggles.
6/20/13: Everyone expects the Saints to maintain their high-flying offense this coming season, especially with the return of head coach Sean Payton. Defense, however, is a different story. The D has not been that good in New Orleans for a few years. Rob Ryan was hired as the DC to turn that around, and a key piece is Victor Butler. Butler injured his knee when colliding with runningback Mark Ingram in team drills. The extent of the injury is not known yet, but it could change the complexion of Ryan's 3-4 defense if they have to put in a player that is not ready for full time service.
6/13/13: Last season was an unmitigated disaster for the New Orleans Saints. Their trials and tribulations were well documented, all as fallout from the Bounty Scandal. It may have been a good thing for Sean Payton. He was suspended for the season, and the team essentially collapsed without his leadership. The Saints ended up getting a pretty good draft spot and Paytong solidified his grip as the Don of the team. The Saints have every reason to be optiimistic this year, and should be a factor in the NFC South, just like in the pre-bounty punishment days.
6/6/13: The Saints should be back to their old tricks this coming season. That means 5,000 yards from QB Drew Breese and a place in the conversation of best in the NFC South. They need to enjoy this time. Because next season (2014), the team has over $140 million in cap money allocated. That is well, well above the salary cap level and will force the Saints to release or trade away a lot of players - as well as restructure contracts. A big portion of that cap hit is Drew Breese. The Saints do not have a replacement in place for him, so this will require a lot of financial juggling from the team to stay near the top of division.
5/30/13: Saints defensive players are comparing new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to former DC Gregg Williams (of the Bounty Scandal). That is not too surprising, considering Williams did once coach under Ryan's father Buddy Ryan and has that similar attack style defense. Both were also in St. Louis briefly, though neither coached a game. Williams was suspended all of last season and Rob Ryan was just in town for a couple of days. One could say that the bridge DC between the two, Steve Spagnoulo, who was the head coach in St. Louis for three years never coached a game there either.
5/16/13: The Atlanta Falcons are coming off of a NFC Championship Game appearance, the best record in the league, and of course an NFC South Championship. The did lose a lot during the offseason, but gained some too. The Saints are now back in form with their team finally reunited. So the question is who will win the division? With all the talk about the NFC West, the South seems to have ben forgotten. However, both teams have the makeup to get to the Super Bowl, so neither should be forgotten. Oh, and the Bucs and Panthers have improved too.
5/9/13: When the Rams won the Super Bowl with the Greatest Show on Turf team, they had a high-flying offense and a better than expected defense that benefited from other teams having to take chances to score points. Exactly the same with the Saints when they won the championship. Both teams slipped defensively and found themselves in regular shootouts. The Saints are trying to remedy thier issue, and first round draft pick (15th overall) Kenny Vicarro out of Texas, as well as bringing Rob Ryan as the new DC. New Orleans should be competitive this season, but their defense needs to prove they can win games.
5/2/13: The Saints should be all paid up now. All of the punishments from the bounty scandal should be completed and the team can move on with trying to win another Super Bowl in their limited window. New Orleans' first pick was the easily the biggest name. The Saints, with the 15th selection, chose strong safety Kenny Viccaro from the University of Texas. Viccaro will likely start right away, as the Saints need help in the secondary like Augusta needs green grass. But the Saints are still fairly well stocked, and Drew Breese is a master at commanding the offense - so they should be battling Atlanta for the NFC South title this season.
4/25/13: Like the rest of the NFC South, the Saints will play both the AFC East and NFC West this season. The AFC has the always strong New England Patriots as well as the developing Miami Dolphins. The NFC West is no joke any more. Seattle and San Francisco are Super Bowl contenders. St. Louis is rebuilding the right way. Even Arizona can be good if they get some decent play out of Carson Palmer. The Saints will also play Dallas on a nationally televised game and the always competitive Bears. This is the type of schedule that separates the contenders from the pretenders. If the Saints can navigate this gauntlet, then they may be able to make some noise in the playoffs.
4/18/13: It will be interesting to see how the Saints rebound this season. The team is back with their full coaching staff (read: head coach Sean Payton). They also fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo and replaced him with Rob Ryan. The defense should be more aggressive this season, as is Ryan's style. The team simply could not win early last season with the instability at head coach. They put on an admirable late charge, but the early portion of 2012 doomed them. With their full arsenal back, it will be great to see the matchups against the Atlanta Falcons again.
4/11/13: Saints fans will never admit this, but perhaps the dismal 2012 season was a blessing in disguise. The Saints bounty scandal and subsequent suspensions and penalties have been well documented, as has their terrible season without head coach Sean Payton. But another point of view would suggest that last year was meant for the Falcons anyhow, so maybe it was better that the Saints struggled and will get a pick in the first half of the draft in every round. There are some strong offensive and defensive linemen out there this draft to help shore up several holes.
4/4/13: Head coach Sean Payton wants everyone to know that just because he is back on the sidelines that does not mean that team will enjoy instant success. The 2012 Saints were an unmitigated failure due to suspensions handed down by the NFL for the bounty scandal a few years ago. The team struggled without their head coach or even their interim coach (for the first six games). The Saints did improve once Joe Vitt took over, but not enough to make the playoffs and not enough for Saints fans to forgive commissioner Roger Goodell. It actually sounds like Payton is trying to build in an excuse if this year goes wrong as well.
3/28/13: After a year in exile, the New Orleans Saints are ready to play again. Each team really only has a limited window to succeed before the cycle of player transition, age and injuries catch up. Considering the Saints are already at the tail end of their window, losing last season to the punishments and appeals of the bounty scandal was especially harmful. But again, the team is back at full strength with a new defensive coordinator in Rob Ryan. The latest rumors out of the Big Easy is that the team will target former Colts defensive lineman Dwight Freeny to bolster their pass rush.
3/21/13: Coach Sean Payton is wasting no time heaping praise on new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (twin brother to New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan). He is continually talking about Ryan's passion and enthusiasm, and what he will bring to the New Orleans Saints this coming season. Some may look at this as disrespect to former Saints DC Steve Spagnuoulo. Spags inheirited a defense short on talent and missing key players due to suspension. It really looks like he was scapegoated for problems that were well outside his control. Don't forget, Spags did decipher the Patriots and ruined their chance at an undefeated season in the Super Bowl just a few years ago.
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3/14/13: Like several other teams, the Saints have been conspicuously quiet during free agency so far. New Orleans does have some salary cap issues, and convinced both Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma to take major pay cuts to remain with the team. The Saints also lost backup quarterback Chase Daniels, who signed a large contract with the Chiefs to backup Alex Smith - despite the fact that he has only thrown nine passes in his professional career. Finally, rumors are circulating that the Saints may have interest in former Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asamugah, though he may be too expensive.
3/7/13: More trouble in paradise this week. Former Saints defensive lineman Remi Ayodele blasted Anthony Hargrove because Hargrove claimed that Ayodele was the player that paid him. Ayodele's response was posted through a series of Tweet where he mocked Hargrove for being out of money and flatly denied any knowledge of a Bounty Program. Hargrove was suspended for eight games, later overturned by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, but stands to lose benefit money in the long run. This case is shut for the rest of the world, but Hargrove, and maybe others, still have hard feelings toward the NFL for their initial punishments.
2/21/13: The New Orleans Saints have some salary cap juggling to do. The Saints are currently about $20 million over the cap, so obviously there is some cutting to be done. And Drew Breese is not going anywhere. First and foremost is Johnathan Vilmar. He will be owed a base salary of $4.8 million, but counts as an $8.7 million cap hit due to dead money. The Saints would like for him to restructure his contract, but the odds are that he will not be wearing the Black and Gold next season. Where he ends up is anyone's guess.
2/14/13: The Saints suffered through their second lost season in seven years last season. The first was in 2005 when the team was displaced by Hurricane Katrina. They played away games as the home team and played their real home games in San Antonio. The result was a 2-14 disaster. Last season, they were paying for the Bounty Scandal, with two players suspended, as well as three coaches and the GM. The team finished with a losing record, rather than contending for the NFC South and a playoff spot. It also meant that they would not be the first team to host a Super Bowl in their home stadium. 2014 figures to be better with everyone back and new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
2/7/13: So Rob Ryan, the deposed defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys and twin brother of New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, will not be joining the St. Louis Rams. But he will follow several other former Rams coaches and go to the New Orleans Saints. Saints head coach Sean Payton announced that he would not hire a DC to replace Steve Spagnuolo (a former Rams head coach) until after the Super Bowl - leading to speculation that the Saints would hire an assistant from either Baltimore or San Francisco. But instead he hired Ryan, who believes he is among the best DCs in the game.
1/31/13: Sean Payton was reinstated from his suspension last week, a few weeks earlier than that the year he was supposed to serve. This may have been NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's way of trying to make peace with the city of New Orleans, who is hosting the Super Bowl (and maybe a way for Goodell to have a meal without getting food poisoning). Payton quickly fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo two days after reinstatement and confirmed that the team would play a 3-4 defense next year. No word yet on Spag's replacement, but there is a chance it is a defensive coach for the 49ers or Ravens.
1/24/13: After a year in exile, the real head coach of the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton, has been reinstated. Payton was suspended from the league for a year for his role in the Saints pay for injury program, better known as Bountygate. In his absence, Carmichael led the team for the first six games of the 2012 season, before Joe Vitt, who was also implicated in Bountygate, was reinstated, and took over as the temporary head coach. It may have been to Paytons befit that the team struggled. The missed the playoffs, but now have a better draft position to continue on with.
1/17/13: The Saints will send three players to the Pro Bowl in a few weeks: quarterback Drew Breese, left guard Jahri Evans, and punter Thomas Morstead. Evans was among the more consistent players this year for the Saints and is a big reason that New Orleans has one of the best offensive lines in the league. It is his fourth straight Pro-Bowl selection, and marks the first time in franchise history that a player has been selected to three consecutive all-star games. In other news, the team and Sean Payton formalized his extension through 2017, making him the highest paid coach in the game.
1/10/13: Now that the season is over, the Saints can finally begin focusing on winning again. This had to have been among the most difficult and distration-ridden seasons that any team has ever endured. Head Coach Sean Payton was suspended for the season. Interim coach Joe Vitt was suspended for six games. Jonathan Vilma among other defensive starters was suspended - though those were eventually overturned. In the meantime, Drew Breese continued to pile on video game like numbers, but the defense could not stop anyone. But with Payton returning and mid-round picks, the Saints are poised to return next season.
1/3/13: No team has had a more turmoil-filled season than the Saints, and at least it is over. The season ended with a 44-38 loss to Carolina, though Drew Breese passed for almost 400 yards and four touchdowns. Both Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore had over 100 yards recieving, with Graham adding a TD. Off the field, suspended coach Sean Payton signed a long-term extension to remain with the Saints. The move keeps Payton out of Dallas' clutches while making him the highest paid coach in the league. The Saints finished the season at 7-9, but will likely rebound next season.
12/27/12: The Saints playoff fate was finally sealed, despite winning 34-31 in OT at Dallas. New Orleans sits at 7-8, but is mathmatically eliminated. Saints QB continued his masterful play, throwing for 446 yards and three touchdowns, but the game was finally won after a Marques Colston fumble. Colston caught a pass, was stripped of the ball, which then rolled 20 yards, but was recovered by Saints tight end Jimmy Graham at the Dallas two yard line. Garrett Hartley then kicked the winning field goal. With nothing left to play for but pride, the Saints host the suddently surging Panthers in Week 17.
12/20/12: The Saints may not be going to the playoffs, but they looked like a playoff contender against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. QB Drew Breese snapped outf of hisrecent slump to throw for 307 yarsds and four TDs, while the defense was mean and aggressive, picking off Josh Freeman four times. The 41-0 routing brought the Saints to 6-8 on the year, with a chance to hit 500 for the season. Management may not want any more wins in order to keep their relatively high draft position, but the players will work anyway. New Orleans travels to Dallas this Sunday with a shot at spoiling the Cowboys playoff hopes.
12/13/12: Any hope the Saints may have had about making the playoffs this year went away in the Meadowlands. The New York Giants proved they are still the champs, as they knocked off the resurgent Saints 52-27. The game was still close going into the 4th quarter - the Giants led 35-27 at the time. The New York piled on 17 points and held Drew Breese and company in the last quarter. Breese threw for over 350 yards, but only one touchdown against two interception. Off the field, all of the players suspended in the Saints Bounty Scandal have had thier suspensions vacated. New Orleans returns home to host Tampa this Sunday.
12/6/12: The Saints' offense has been among the elite in the NFL the past few seasons, but not last Sunday. Drew Breese was intercepted five times and his consecutive games with a touchdown streak came to a crashing halt against the Falcons, as the Saints fell to 5-7. New Orleans' playoff hopes are in doubt now. The early season turmoil and interim interim coaching is catching up. The Saints will have to win out and get some help along the way to make the playoffs as a wild card. And their next test is a tough one, travelling to the Meadowlands to face the Giants, who lost a heart breaker to Washington on Monday night.
8/2/12: In the first NFL action since the Super Bowl, the much-maligned New Orleans Saints took on the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason Hall of Fame Game. It was much needed good news for the Saints. Quarterback Drew Brees led a touchdown drive in his only series during a 17-10 victory. Brees was 4 of 5 for 41 yards in his only series of the game. Backup QB Chase Daniel took over and went 15 of 20 for 203 yards and touchdown and interception. Second year running back Mark Ingram scored the opening touchdown of the game on a one- yard run. Ingram is competing with Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas for time in the backfield. Free Safety Malcolm Jenkins was able pick off Kevin Kolb for his first interception in over a year. After the bounty scandal that erupted in the offseason, the New Orleans Saints needed a good game and Drew Brees and co responded on cue.
New Orleans Saints lineback Jonathan Vilma is not going quietly into that good night regarding his suspension in connection with the bounty scandal. This week, Vilma informed a federal judge in New Orleans that he will file an injunction if his suspension is not overturned by the league. Vilma wrote a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Helen G. Berrigan and plans to file to injunction that would allow Vilma to play during the legal process, in the event that his suspension is not overturned by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The saga surrounding the New Orleans Saints and the bounty scandal that shook the league earlier this year continues, as Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt has told league officials that he would be willing to take a lie detector test to disprove allegations of his involvement in the bounty program. The league apparently has evidence that Vitt, who will already be serving a 6-game suspension to start this season, offered up a $5,000 bounty to take out Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the 2010 NFC Championship game. Earlier, the Saints' appeal to the league offices for the suspensions was denied.
5/2/12 - Four players were suspended for their roles in the New Orleans Saints bounty system. Current Saints' player linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended without pay for the entire 2012 Season. Saints lineman Will Smith was also suspended for four games. Linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns was suspended for three games. Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, was suspended for the first half of the season. The League released a statement saying Vilma, Hargrove, Smith, and Fujita were suspended because of conduct detrimental to the NFL as a result of their leadership roles with the bounties. According to ESPN NFL Inside Adam Schefter, all 4 players are planning to appeal their suspensions.
4/12/12 The "BountyGate" scandal has rocked the league and has been one of the most-talked-about sports stories of 2012 so far. It has also taken its toll on the New Orleans Saints, as their head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the entirety of the 2012 NFL season. The Saints will have to go with interim coach Joe Vitt, who has been named as Payton's replacement for the final 10 games of the season -- he will also serve a suspension of his own for the first 6 weeks. To make matter worse for New Orleans, star quarterback Drew Brees is locked in a bitter contract dispute with the Saints' front office.
The Saints' historic run to the Super Bowl title in 2009 has made the Saints one of the more glorified franchises in the league. The Saints also have some of the most exciting fans in the leagues. In fact, the fans were rated by a Sports Illustrated poll as being the second most dedicated. The Saints play in the Superdome, which is noted for its loud, energized, loyal crowd and great gameday atmosphere. Buy Saints tickets and watch one of the most exciting teams in one of the best game environments in the NFL.
New Orleans Saints Tickets - The Players
Drew Brees is a warrior. He has a deep receiving core including Marques Colston, Robert Meechem, Devery Henderson and Lance More. Not to mention running backs, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and rookie Mark Ingram, who all often come out of the back field to catch a pass or two. He will never have a completion to less than 4 different receivers a game. Their defense isn't too bad either. Jonathan Vilma is one of the best linebackers in the game. Will Smith is an enforcer at defensive end. Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins and Jabari Greer take care of anything deep. The Saints have become a successful organization and with its recent Super Bowl win watch for more players wanting to play on the bayou at the Super Dome
New Orleans Saints Schedule & Key Dates
Opening Day / New Orleans Saints First Game 2013
New Orleans Saints Preseason Beginning 2013
Nov 17, 2013 San Francisco 49ers 20 - 23 New Orleans Saints Nov 3, 2013 New Orleans Saints 20 - 26 New York Jets Oct 27, 2013 Buffalo Bills 17 - 35 New Orleans Saints Oct 13, 2013 New Orleans Saints 27 - 30 New England Patriots Oct 6, 2013 New Orleans Saints 26 - 18 Chicago Bears Sep 22, 2013 Arizona Cardinals 7 - 31 New Orleans Saints Sep 15, 2013 New Orleans Saints 16 - 14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sep 8, 2013 Atlanta Falcons 17 - 23 New Orleans Saints Aug 29, 2013 Preseason: New Orleans Saints 21 - 24 Miami Dolphins Aug 25, 2013 Preseason: New Orleans Saints 31 - 23 Houston Texans
Aug 23, 2014 New Orleans Saints vs Indianapolis Colts Aug 28, 2014 Baltimore Ravens vs New Orleans Saints