What’s the story?
Let the 2012 season serve as a reminder lest anyone think that the head coach of an NFL team is nothing more than a figure-head. The Saints lost their first four games sans Sean Payton, who was serving a year-long suspension for his involvement in the bounty drama. Not only did the Saints not have their own head coach in place for the 2012 season, they didn’t even have their interim coach, Joe Vitt, until week 7 due to his own suspension. The coaches weren’t the only ones to sustain a blow from bounty gate – several players were suspended, as was the GM. The Saints will have everyone back in action in 2013 and will certainly be looking to put the past as far behind them as possible.
Leader and commander:
The aforementioned, Sean Payton, who couldn’t have been missed more.
New kid on the block:
Lots of new defensive pieces for the Saints this year. The Saints hired former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (if that name sounds familiar it’s because his similarly-wired brother, Rex, is the Jets head coach) and picked up several keys defensive players through free agency and the draft.
Last year was…
…bad for the Saints at 7-9 and missing the playoffs; good for Drew Brees who broke Johnny Unitas’ record for number of consecutive games with a passing touchdown. The new record now stands at 54.
The NFC South is a weird division. Each team is poised to have a breakout season at one point or another – the Bucs have Schiano, the Panthers have Newton, the Falcons have everyone, and the Saints have their lives back – but which team will make the most of their potential? It has yet to be seen if the return of normalcy will be enough to elevate the Saints back to their status as perennial contenders. They are currently hanging out near the middle, ranked 14th overall.