The Saints season ended in Seattle, just like it did in the 2010 postseason. However, you have to give it up for a great effort by a depleted defense short of starters, especially in the secondary.
The Saints 23-15 loss to the Seahawks was not like in 2010 when the defense played poorly, but this time around the Saints offense just played OK. Against a team that is as talented as the Seahawks, your margin of error is small.The Saints defense is what gives the “Who Dat Nation” hope for the future.
This football team was fueled by the great addition of Rob Ryan at defensive coordinator and a defense that bent at times, but did not break.
Despite dropped passes on offense, inconsistent special teams play, turnovers and a football team that really lacks a big-play element other than tight end Jimmy Graham, this Saints football team hung in the game to the bitter end.To be honest, the Seahawks were a very beatable team on Saturday.
Yes, Marshawn Lynch did rush for 140 yards on 28 carries and the Seahawks rushed for 174 yards total, but their passing game was nothing to write home about. Russell Wilson, who was the best player on the field in his team’s regular season blowout win against the Saints, completed only 9 of his 18 passes for 103 yards.
The Saints defense played well enough to win, but the Saints offense is not the same as it has been in recent years. They won’t be the same again until they shore up their offensive line and get a big-play wide receiver.
This football team would have to trade up in the first round to get him, but wouldn’t LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. look great in a Saints uniform at wide receiver and punt returner?
The couple of bright spots are that the Saints have found their left tackle of the future in Terron Armstead, and Sean Payton has found another diamond in the rough in running back Khiry Robinson.
Mark Ingram ran with much more decisiveness this season than he has in past years, but Robinson looks like someone who could be a real special player if he can stay healthy at halfback.
I can say the same about left offensive tackle Armstead.While Armstead is still a work in progress, you can see his talent as a pass protector on the blind side of a right-handed quarterback. He has also developed into a solid inline run blocker.
But the biggest plus of the 2013 season was the development of a strong group of defensive players in defensive ends Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette, defensive tackle John Jenkins, cornerback Keenan Lewis and rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro.
These players will fuel the Saints engine for many years to come. Hopefully outside linebacker Victor Butler, who missed the entire 2013 season due to a knee injury, can give this team another “pressure” player upfront.
The Saints need help at cornerback and safety and I am concerned about the knee injury to Jabari Greer. It is obvious that the Saints need players at safety that can cover better than Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper.
Rob Ryan, like Gregg Williams before him, loves to play the three-safety alignments. If the Saints have any money in free agency to throw around, it must be used to improve the safety position.
However, the real weaknesses are on the offensive side of the ball.
The Saints are a very good football team with a head coach who has a great eye for talent. Payton also has a good young group of players that he can build around an aging Drew Brees.
If Brees can stay healthy, this team will again be a playoff and Super Bowl contender for the next three to four years, but they will do it differently than any other time under Payton.
The Saints engine will be fueled by their defense and a front unit that is young, talented and aggressive. They also have good depth along their defensive line.
Don’t forget that they are coached by Rob Ryan, who has been tremendous in his first season with the Saints. The 2013 season ended bitterly in Seattle, but after what we witnessed last season, the one thing we can all agree on is that coaching matters.
Just look what Sean Payton has done for this franchise since coming here in 2006 and look at what Rob Ryan did with a defense that set an NFL record for most yardage given up in a single season just a year ago.
Training camp can’t come fast enough.