Season ends, but future is bright for the black and gold

By Kristian Garic

January 24, 2007 at 1:17 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

GO BABY! Guy Breaux of Luling roots for, well ... YOU know.
GO BABY! Guy Breaux of Luling roots for, well ... YOU know.
While some will be disappointed about the way the Saints ended this magical season, some will also look forward to the future for this football team.

While it was disappointing to lose and come up one game short of the Super Bowl, it was fun to be a part of Saints history.

The season started in Cleveland with a thrilling 19-14 victory and ended in Chicago in the NFC Championship game with 39-14 loss.

When you consider where this team was one year ago today, how could you not have enjoyed this remarkable season?

I’m thinking of what I learned about this football team this year. I learned that a group of really talented players aren't as good as a tight-knit team.

And this was a team in every sense of the word. They played as a team all year long and as Coach Sean Payton explained, "This is the best TEAM I’ve been around."

Payton was referring to the chemistry of the Saints. And speaking of Payton, I learned that he is one of the brightest young coaches in the game.

I also learned Payton is one of the great leaders in the game - and leadership will take you a long way.

I learned a lot more about this team in one year than I learned from any Saints team in my 20 years as a Who Dat fan.

While the loss stings, didn’t we have fun this year?

From the re-opening of the Superdome to the divisional round playoff victory, it certainly was amazing.

The Bears were the better team last Sunday and they proved it.

A lot was made of the weather and field conditions, but that was an absolute non-factor, if you ask me.

What was a factor were four Saints ‘turnovers, lack of a running game, lack of run defense and us putting no pressure on the quarterback.

Yes the "home field" was an advantage for the Bears but it wasn't the deciding factor.

The deciding factor was the Bears players themselves. They beat the Saints in every facet of the game.

New Orleans, we can learn from the Saints. Our beloved football team galvanized a city, lifted spirits from the ashes and provided a source of hope for a region desperate to see light at the end of the tunnel.

We needed heroes and the Saints provided us with more than heros, they were symbolic of what a TEAM can accomplish if they function with one heartbeat.

What’s next for the ‘bless-you boys’?

on their second off season under Payton, they have some issues that need to be addressed. Will they ask Joe Horn to take a pay cut? Will they address the cornerback position via free agency or the draft?

They have some free agents of their own they need to take care of in defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, defensive end Charles Grant, and linebacker Mark Simineau.

On the offensive side of the ball, offensive tackle John Stinchcomb will be a free agent as well. And he will command some pretty good attention on the open market.

I think the Saints will definitely ask Horn to take a pay cut.

As much as Joe has meant to this organization over the past seven years, he is getting a little long in the tooth, and he hasn't played a complete season in two years.

Joe holds many Saints receiving records. But this is a business, nothing personal, and growing old is just part of the game.

Thomas was one of the key additions to the team in 2006 and was a huge factor in the success of the Saints defense this season.

The Saints will probably look to re-sign the veteran to long-term deal. Thomas provides veteran experience and leadership on and off the field and is a valued commodity the Saints. Grant, a former first round pick will be tough to sign.

Defensive ends usually get a lot of money on the open market and Grant might want to cash in on a big payday that some team might be willing to pay to claim him in free agency.

Look for the Saints to apply the “franchise” tag to Charles this off season. Another key acquisition for the Saints came in training camp when they traded wide receiver Donte Stallworth to the Eagles for Simoneau.

Simoneau was a great role model on the defense that provided leadership in the locker room in addition to providing a fearsome presence on the field.

Simoneau stays in N.O. and probably mans the middle again next season.

But you can expect the Saints to add a young middle linebacker in the draft to groom as a potential replacement.

Stinchcomb was one of the more pleasant surprises on the team. After three years of injuries and inconsistency John arguably could have been selected to the Pro-Bowl.

It will be tough to keep him, but I think the Saints want to keep this offensive line intact for next season.

The cornerback position has to be addressed, look for the Saints to go after free agent Asante Samuel from New England who had 10 interceptions in the regular season.




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