2013 Record: 9-3
Without Sean Payton for an entire season the Saints seemed kind of lost in 2012. They lost their first four games (including one each against the Panthers and Chiefs), recovered to 5-5, but then lost three more games in a row to end their playoff hopes. If looking for the problem with the team, it definitely wasn’t quarterback Drew Brees, who again surpassed 5,000 passing yards on the season. He also threw for 43 touchdowns. As far as his support in the running game, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, and Chris Ivory combined for more than 1,300 rushing yards. But this team is all about the passing game. They nearly had three 1,000-yard receivers, but Jimmy Graham (982) fell short to Marques Colston (1,154) and Lance Moore (1,041). Even Sproles had 667 receiving yards. The passing game in New Orleans is one of the best the NFL has ever seen and it all goes back to Brees. He turns average receivers into great ones.
Defensively, 2012 was more of a challenge for the Saints. They were 31st in the league against the pass and dead last against the run. The cloud of the Bountygate scandal hung over the team. This year they didn’t make many additions either outside of linebacker Victor Butler and free safety draftee Kenny Vaccaro out of Texas. Roman Harper, Keenan Lewis and Jabari Greer are all holdovers from last year. Curtis Lofton was acquired from the Falcons last year but didn’t succeed in solidifying a weak defense despite 123 tackles. And dejected linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the biggest player target in the Bountygate sanctions, is now eligible to play again after serving his suspension. Cameron Jordan (eight sacks) and Will Smith (six sacks) led a mostly quiet pass rush. They would have undoubtedly chosen another defensive player with what would have been the 45th pick in the Draft, a pick they had to forfeit as part of the Bountygate sanctions. They did draft Georgia’s John Jenkins with the 82nd pick. But overall the defense needs a lot of help, and that’s why Saints fans are happy to welcome back Payton. See Brees and the high-flying Saints offense at the Superdome with Gold Coast Tickets!