Saints the Class of the NFC South?

9 08 2008

Former Jet Jonathan Vilma needs a big season

Former Jet Jonathan Vilma needs a big season

by Michael Gill

Two  years ago, it was almost a story book ending that seemed like it was too good to be true.  The Saints were just one game from representing the NFC in the Super Bowl and entered last season as one of the favorites to win the confrence. 

However, an 0-4 start in 2007 tunred a story book 2006 season into a nightmare right off the bat.  The Saints did, however, turn thigs around and almost made their way back into the NFC playoffs but fell just short.

This season, the Saints fans aren’t counting their chickens before they hatch. “There is more of a cautious optimism here in New Orleans this season,” said WWL Radio personality Deke Bellavia.  “Last season we (the Saints) just couldn’t stay healthy, so health is a big question.”  Even though there is cautious optimism, Bellavia admitted the Saints are talented.  ” This may be the most talented team since the early 90’s teams.”

The problem is there are a ton of health question starting in the middle of their defense with off-season addition Jonathan Vilma.  “Vlima needs to stay healthy and get back into form, the Saints need him in the middle,” said Bellavia.  Vilma was placed on injured reserve last season when he suffered a season ending knee injury during the Jets week 7 game.

While the addition of Vilma makes their defense much improved this season, adding Sedrick Ellis in the draft along with Bobby McCray and a deep tackle rotation could help make the Saints defensive line make their weak secondary look good.

Don’t be fooled, the Saints offense is still their strong suit.  “I don’t know if there is an offense in the south division that can keep up with the Saints,” said Bellavia.  “Adding Shockey to Reggie (Bush) and Marques Colston and with Drew Brees, it’s exciting.” 

Bush will again be counted on to be a big part of the offense but many people would say he has been a bit of a disappointment in his first two seasons, something Bellivia says is unfair.  ” I think the media has over-hyped Reggie, he was great in college, but this is the pros and he was never going to carry the ball 25 times.”  He will not have to carry the ball 25 timed thanks to the return of Duece McAllister.  McAllister missed most of last season after suffering an ACL injury.  The two-time pro bowler should be ready for opening day.  “He’ll be ready,” said Bellivia.  “He has already practiced an awful lot.”  Another guy to keep an eye on in the backfield, according to Bellivia, is Pierre Thomas.  “They have a lot of stock in him.”

Two seasons ago, the Saints didn’t have any expectations and almost shocked the world.  Last season, the Saints had a ton of expectations and could not deliver.  So what kind of expecations should Saints fans have this season.  ‘I think the Saints win their division,” said Bellivia.  “Anything short of the playoffs this season, with this talent is a major disappointment.

Fans of the Saints should expect a NFC South title this season, but a leaky defense gives them an early exit in the playoffs this season.  But this team is headed in the right direction.

Next Up : Pittsburgh Steelers

This is a series called “2-A-Days” that will preview two teams per day every day this month, where Mike Gill will interview a beat writer or radio personality who covers the team on “The Mike Gill Show” on ESPN Radio 1450 , weekdays from 3-6pm




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