Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Offseason Review - New Orleans Saints - Day 8


New Orleans Saints

Division: NFC South 7-9, 3rd in division

Introduction

I'm Stokest26 and I will be repping /r/saints for the first time in the off-season review series.

First things, first...did you hear that the Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl? Because New Orleans sure did...I’m pretty sure the region hasn't recovered from its collective orgasm.

The New Orleans Saints entered the 2016 regular season with many question marks...mostly centered on the defensive side of the ball. This was further highlighted when the team’s first round draft pick, Sheldon Rankins, was projected to miss 6-8 weeks with a broken fibula suffered in pre-season. The season turned into a game of “what-ifs and almosts” The team had 8 games decided by 6 points or less and only one game where the team was beaten by more than 1 score.

Coaching and injuries were at fault for most of these close games. It’s hard to say the defense was bad given the numbers of injuries but they certainly played extremely bad at times...the secondary was mostly scraped together after losing 4 starting CBs by week 3 of the season (Breaux, Wilson, Swann, and Williams) leaving extremely raw guys/street FA guys like Ken Crawley and Sterling Moore to start throughout the season. There were injuries at every level and this plus the, lack of, special teams coaching led to a 3rd straight 7-9 record despite the offense producing prolific numbers once again

The 2017 Saints will enter this season with perhaps even more questions as I will outline in the following...


Coaching Changes

One of the things that Saints fans have bemoaned over the last several seasons is that Sean Payton’s loyalty to his staff was hurting the team. 2 seasons ago, the team saw the awkward move of bringing Dennis Allen back to the team as a “defensive consultant” after his unsuccessful stint as Da Raidas head coach. Clearly the writing was on the wall for Wolfman Rob, fix the defense or you are out. He didn't and was subsequently canned. However, even after Allen was retained as the official DC going into the season Saints fans were still pulling their hair out. Why? Joe Vitt was still on the staff. Joe Vitt is respected league wide and is someone who has been coaching since the 70’s and he was Sean’s right hand man/official assistant coach ever since Payton came to NOLA. But many fans blamed the ineffectiveness of the Saints linebackers and defense in general on Vitt and the position staff he brought in. Well Vitt was finally released at the end of the season and Mike Nolan was hired on… bringing some optimistic feelings about the position staff for the first time in years.

Special teams was probably the most scrutinized unit on the team and, at some points, probably the most scrutinized unit in the league. A perfect storm of a rookie kicker, a bad coach and weird loopholes to blocking rules, and fucking white cleats led to several games being lost due to special teams… Kicker Will Lutz got noticeably better after the late season hiring of Kevin O’Dea as a ST consultant but it wasn't enough to save McMahon’s job... the ending of the Denver game was pretty much the last straw and Greg McMahon was fired at the end of the season and replaced by Bradford Banta who had previously served as the Redskins assistant ST coach from 2014-2016.

In other areas, Dan Campbell was made the assistant HC in addition to retaining his spot as the TE coach. I am a big Dan fan, I think he brings toughness and accountability to the team and will be a HC in the league in the future (Trivia time Dan Campbell actually won a superbowl ring with New Orleans in 2009, he never played a regular season game though having injured his knee prior to the season starting).

WR Coach John Morton left the team to take an opportunity to play Assistant Tank Commander to become the OC for the New York Jets. As such, Curtis Johnson came back to be the WR Coach for the team after a stint as the HC for the Tulane Green Wave, he held this position previously from 2006-2011. I think this is a natural fit for him and we have seen the results of the Saint’s WR corps over the year as proof. Both Morton and Johnson have proven they can develop young WRs into great players for the Saints with Morton claiming Cooks, Thomas, and Snead while Johnson developing Colston and Moore. It will be interesting to see the development continue as outside of Ted Ginn Jr. this is one of the youngest WR corps in the Sean Payton era.

Bill Johnson was also released, he had inconsistent results over his tenure as the Saints DL coach. The inability to find a complement to Cam Jordan is really an indictment of every position coach involved with the front 7 on defense. He is being replaced by Ryan Nielsen who most recently spent 3 years as the D-line coach for NC State.

Dan Roushar moved from coaching Running Backs and Tight Ends to the head O-Line coach

Lastly, Joe Lombardi has also returned to the fold as the QB coach which should allow Pete Carmichael to focus all his attention on being the offensive coordinator. Lombardi’s main job will be the discovery/grooming of Drew Brees’ successor (At the end of the 2050 season)

Arrivals

Mike Nolan LB Coach

Ryan Nielsen DL Coach

Curtis Johnson WR Coach

Joe Lombardi QB Coach

Departures

Joe Vitt Ass HC/LB Coach (Released/Retired)

James Willis Assistant LB Coach (Released)

Greg McMahon ST Coordinator (Released)

Stan Kwan Assistant St Coordinator (Released)

Bill Johnson DL Coach (Released/Signed with LA Rams)

John Morton WR Coach (Signed as Jets OC)

Finalized 2017 Coaching Staff

Head Coaches

Head Coach – Sean Payton

Assistant Head Coach/Tight Ends – Dan Campbell

Offensive Coaches

Offensive Coordinator – Pete Carmichael

Quarterbacks – Joe Lombardi

Running Backs – Joel Thomas

Senior Offensive Assistant/Wide Receivers – Curtis Johnson

Offensive Line – Dan Roushar

Offensive Assistant – Ronald Curry

Offensive Assistant – Brendan Nugent

Defensive Coaches

Defensive Coordinator – Dennis Allen

Senior Defensive Assistant – Peter Giunta

Defensive Line – Ryan Nielsen

Pass Rush Specialist – Brian Young

Linebackers - Mike Nolan

Secondary – Aaron Glenn

Defensive Assistant – Leigh Torrence

Defensive Assistant/Linebackers - Michael Hodges

Special Teams Coaches

Special Teams Coordinator – Bradford Banta

Assistant Special Teams – Kevin O'Dea


Free Agency

Departures

Player Position New Team
Nick Fairley DT NFI
Brandin Cooks WR New England
Tim Hightower HB San Francisco
Tim Lelito OG Tennessee
Jahri Evans OG Green Bay
Kasim Edebali DE/OLB Denver
Shiloh Keo S Unsigned
Luke McCown QB Unsigned
Jarius Byrd S Unsigned
Roman Harper S Unsigned
Paul Kruger DE Unsigned
Kyle Wilson CB Unsigned

I’ll start out with the obvious, losing Nick Fairley sucks ass. Sweaty, obese, Gulf Coast ass. Obviously I want him to do what is best for his health and well being… it just sucks as a fan to have yet another promising defensive player not pan out after getting a hefty payday. Byrd, Galette, and now Fairley… all different scenarios… injury, insanity, and pre-existing heart condition respectively, all gone to the tune of 65 million in guaranteed money.

Jarius Byrd’s Saga in NOLA has come to a close, as mentioned earlier he made 28 million in guaranteed money while playing in 17 games over 2 seasons, his final statline over that stretch were 75 tackles, 1 INT, 5 PD, 2 FF and 1 sack. He was never the same after his early knee injury in 2015 and subsequent rehab.

After Fairley and Byrd, these departures get more palatable.

Tim Hightower was a fan favorite for his tenacious running style and feel good story, but he is on the wrong side of 30 and easily replaceable in the lineup. I wish him nothing but the best in San Francisco.

Tim Lelito was maddeningly inconsistent and in and out of the lineup as a C/G for his tenure here. He is still young and Tennessee has one of the best O-lines in the league so he could still have a good future in the league.

Kasim Edebali is a player who grew up in Germany and despite his size never really delivered and goes into ever increasing pile of Johnson and Vitt’s failed developmental players. However, like Lelito he has flashed at times and is going to a very strong group of pass rushers in Denver.

B.W. Webb was Just Another Guy last year. He was only on the team after the cornerback group got ravaged by injury. He will probably only see spot/ST duty in Chicago

Wilson was a former first round pick who showed some promise at times in the 2 years here was in New Orleans but an injury in the preseason shot down any hopes of that coming into the year. He is currently unsigned.

Luke McCown was a great backup and even got his own commerical, wish the guy the best in what I assume is retirement now

Paul Kruger did what many pundits predicted when he signed in the off-season for 3 million dollars, failed to produce. It wasn't hard to see him go this offseason. He wasn't the answer across from Cam Jordan and as I mentioned earlier was part of the reason Johnson and Vitt were released.

Now to Roman Harper and Jahri Evans

With the final departure of these two, the saints 2006 draft class is down to Zach Strief. The 2006 draft class is arguably best class in Saints History and it sad to see them both move on. The are both without a doubt Saints Hofers and Jahri might even make it into the NFL HOF one day (6 pro bowls and 4 AP Awards). That being said Evans overperformed last year and we will see how much he has left in the tank for Green Bay. While Harper was a shell of the former feared hitter he was in his original Saints stint.

I’ll close with a section on the Brandin Cooks trade… Brandin Cooks is a very good WR, everyone knows that and everyone knew that when the Saints leaked they were looking to trade him… now that value and what teams were offering became a bit of a contentious point on this sub and in /r/nfl but my opinion on it is this.. Cooks wants to be a team's Antonio Brown, he wants to be getting 130-150 targets a season and making Pro Bowls and so on and so forth (note this is speculation on my part given on who he trains with in the off-season and how he carries himself). History says those things are highly unlikely to happen to Saints WRs. Akin to the Graham trade, Loomis and co. sold high and got good return value out of a good player. I wish nothing but the best for Cooks and hope he finds the levels of success he wants.


Player Position Former Team Length Salary
Larry "War Daddy" Warford OG Detroit 4 years $34M
A.J. Klein OLB Carolina 4 years $24M
Ted Ginn Jr. WR Carolina 3 years $11M
Adrian Peterson RB Vikings 2 years $7M
Manti Te’o MLB Chargers 2 Years $5M
Alex Okafor DE Arizona 1 Year $2M
Chase Daniel QB Phildelphia 1 Year $900K
Rafael Bush S Detroit 1 Year $855K
Carl Nassib QB Giants 1 Year N/A
Daryll Tapp DL Saints 1 Year $1M
John Phillips TE Saints 1 Year $980K
Sterling Moore CB Saints 1 Year $900K
Travaris Cadet RB Saints 1 Year $855K

Ahh, Free Agency as a Saints fan...it’s like a box of chocolates...you never know what you are gonna get. Despite spending the last several years under the Sword of Damocles aka Self-created Cap Hell, Loomis successfully Loodoo’ed the team into manageable cap space.

To start I will fully acknowledge that having Adrian Peterson start the season wearing a Saint uniform playing against the Vikings is boner inducing and I will be there in the game thread to lick the salty tears of Vikings fans as War Daddy and KUHHHNNNNN block Adrian into a touchdown.

The most important part of this signing is to realize what role AD was brought into fill. He is not supplanting Mark Ingram as the lead back, he is taking Hightower’s role as the spell back for Ingram.

Larry Warford fills a huge need a OG and will provide all the Mass and Ass SP can handle.

Sniping Ted Ginn and AJ Klein away from the Panthers is pretty satisfying as well. Ginn will provide the role Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, and yes Brandin Cooks did… blow the top off opposing defenses and let Payton and Brees attack the intermediate routes.

AJ Klein and Manti Te’o join the Battle Royale that is the Saint’s 2017 Linebacking Corps. No one from the organization is saying anything about where they are projected to play other than they believe all the LBs currently on the roster can play all 3 spots. Nothing to say other than I think they are pretty solid signings on paper and we will wait til pre-season to really see what’s what.

On a similar note, Alex Okafor joins a crowded battle at DE across from Cam Jordan. He has flashed previously in his career but was sidelined by injury issues. He is best friends with safety Kenny Vaccaro dating back to their UT days so maybe that will provide extra motivation.

Rafael Bush and Chase Daniel are two former Saints players that were brought back onto the squad. Bush provides good Safety depth and a solid STer while Daniel has an inside track to the backup QB position. Speaking of the backup QB position Ryan Nassib joins the team as the 4th QB, which Sean Payton always likes to have during camp..He’s a former 4th round pick that hasn't seen the field since 2015 and I doubt that will change for him in 2017 or beyond.

As far as the group of players resigned Tapp and Moore are solid veteran depth and good presences to have in the locker room.

Phillips may or may not make the team depending on the TE performances through TC and Pre-season.

And, I think the Alvin Kamara pick pretty much solidified Cadet finally being voted off the island for good. I don't know what the coaches see in him but he has been the epitome of JAG every time he touches the ball


Draft

Player Round/Pick School
Marshon Lattimore 1/11 Ohio State
Ryan Ramczyk 1/30 Wisconsin
Marcus Williams 2/42 Utah
Alvin Kamara 3/67 Tennessee
Alex Anzalone 3/76 Florida
Trey Hendrickson 3/103 FAU
Al-Quadin Muhammed 6/196 Miami

Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio Grade A+ I’m glad the team didn't over think this pick, especially after seeing the news they were ready to take Patrick Mahomes if he fell to 11. And they also didn't reach for a pass rusher after the top tier guys came off the board. Lattimore is about as pro ready as you can get as college corner and has tantalizing physical traits. His only real concern is his history of hamstring injuries which eventually needed surgery to correct.

Lattimore adds more strength to a very intriguing group on paper.

Ryan Ramczyk, OL, Wisconsin Grade A

So this pick was going to be Reuben Foster, but the NFCW engaged in a disgusting act first round division incest that saw the Seahawks trade with the 9ers to jump us and take Foster. Alas what that wacky division does can't be helped, I liked the pick when it happened and I love it now. The Saints once rock steady line up of offensive linemen has been a blur of players moving in, out and all over the line the last few seasons. Ramczyk will be called on earlier than expected unfortunately with the news about Terron Armstead’s shoulder injury. I think Brees will make his rookie tackle’s job easy with his quick release and ability to avoid edge pressure. As long as Ryan can keep up with the playbook mentally I think he will be a starter for years to come

Marcus Williams, S, Utah Grade B

Williams a rangy, speedy safety from Utah who will compete for time in the saints 3 safety nickel set from the start of training camp. Hopefully he will just listen to everything Aaron Glenn has to say and be a valuable backup to Vonn Bell and come in for valuable PT when the team goes into 3 safety sets that it likes to do often

Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee Grade B Man I really like this pick, I see this kid as a slightly faster Pierre Thomas. He can run the ball and catch the ball and return kicks. He should see about 10-15 touches a game and be a valuable part of the offense. Pushing Cadet off the team will just be the cherry on top. Giving up a 2nd rounder in 2018 does sting a bit but this kid could be worth it if he delivers.

Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida Grade C I feel like the Saints did this song and dance already with Davis Tull, another mid range LB that has prototypical size and speed but also extensive injury issues. Anzalone has to stay healthy and be able to come out in the aforementioned Battle Royale for one of the linebacker spots, but odds are he is a STer this year, if he stays healthy.

Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic Grade C+

This is a pretty typical pick under Mickey and Co, a small school prospect who had good production. He might hit but I doubt he will be anything more than a rotational pass rusher at best.

Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Miami Grade 6th round pick

I dont really how to grade 6th/7th round picks as they are essentially way to secure a player a team doesn't necessarily want to chance to the UDFA process. This kid has serious character concerns and was dismissed from the Miami football team. He has the ability to maybe be something more though so we'll see how that pans out but I wont know more til I see him in pads, something he hasn't been in over 18 months.

Additionally the team signed the following UDFAs:

GT QB-turned-CB Justin Thomas

LS Chase Dominguez

WR Travin Dural

TE Trey Edmunds

DT Devaroe Lawrence

CB Arthur Maulet

FB John Robinson-Woodgett

LB Sae Tautu

C Cameron Tom.


Other Offseason News

Max Unger broke his foot and needed surgery and might miss the start of the season

Terron Armstead hurt his shoulder in OTAs and could possibly be out for the entire season

Everythingisfine.jpg

The team has prepared as well as they could for this situation drafting an OL in the first round of two of the last 3 years as well as signing some highly touted UDFA linemen every year but losing Unger and Armstead for any length of time is no good.

Semi-Related but its been several months and this is still me every time some mentions 28-3 or the Falcons choking in general


Hub for rest of comments since its over 40,000*

Offensive Depth Chart -Skill Positions-

Offensive Depth Chart -Offensive Line-

Defensive Depth Chart -Front Seven-

Defensive Depth Chart -Backfield + ST-

Training Camp Battles to Watch

Position Groups Strengths and Weaknesses

Schedule Prediction

Schemes


Shout out to all the cool dudes at /r/saints (especially /u/dean815) for the feedback and being great guys and /u/skepticismissurvival for running the series

Link to Hub

I posted ahead of schedule because the Bengals entry is being pushed back, sorry for the weird time its 1:30 AM here in Korea



Submitted July 11, 2017 at 12:13PM by Stokest26
via reddit http://ift.tt/2uNsDVP

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