We fielded questions through Twitter, Facebook and a few from our editors, combining them all for this week’s Saints mailbag. cover32 Saints columnist Travis Dauro gives us the straight talking look at some of the burning questions surrounding the Saints in the this week’s mailbag.
There were pretty high expectations for the Saints coming into the 2013 season. How do you think they preformed under those expectations?
Sean Payton would be back, the defense would have a fresh start, and a number of new, promising players came to the team. However, starters Victor Butler, Joe Morgan, and a potential starter in Kenyon Coleman, among others, had their seasons ended before it even started. I predicted that the Saints would go 13-3 on the season, and quite frankly they could have, even should have, done that. But if before the season someone would’ve told me that the Saints would go 11-5 with a road playoff win, I probably would’ve taken it.
Now that the season has come to a close, who would you name as the teams MVPs on offense and defense?
The MVP for the offense would have to be Jimmy Graham in my opinion. Brees put up another historical season, throwing for 5,162 yards with a 104.7 passer rating, but a lot of that was due to Jimmy. He is clearly the best tight end in the game right now and he is just getting started. He finished the season with 86 catches for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns, just one shy of Robert Gronkowski’s record of 17. On defense, I would have to go with Cam Jordan. He was a serious Defensive Player of the Year candidate all throughout the season until Robert Mathis and Robert Quinn began to steal the show. Jordan tallied 12.5 sacks (5th best in the NFL), 47 tackles, four passes defended, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
From the Saints perspective, who wins…Seahawks or Niners?
This is a really tough game to predict. Right now, the 49ers look like the tougher, more explosive team, but Seattle is so dangerous and different at home. However, Russell Wilson has come back down to earth a little bit, and the 49ers defense is equally as scary as the Seahawks’. In the end, I will have to go with the 49ers that have the better offense on the road in this one in a slugfest until the end.
Other than Jimmy Graham, which is a given, what other to-be free agents do the Saints need to re-sign?
Honestly, other than Jimmy there isn’t another free agent that the Saints desperately have to resign. But for the sake of the question and the fact that the Saints probably would like to keep the majority of the core of this team together, I would say that Brian de la Puente, Malcolm Jenkins, and Rafael Bush are of top priority. The Saints have shown that they are willing to let lineman (especially tackles) walk in free agency, so I believe Strief will not come back unless it is for the right price. Aside from the names that I mentioned, I would like to see Parys Haralson, Kenyon Coleman, and Joe Morgan brought back for another run.
What is the largest position of need as the Saints head into the offseason with free agency and the draft?
The largest position of need this offseason for the Saints is definitely in the secondary. At some point this season, they lost cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson and safety Kenny Vaccaro due to injury. Cornerback Corey White is just not cutting it as a back up and safety Roman Harper is not getting any younger or better. I would like to see the Saints bring in some help for Keenan Lewis at corner and help for Vaccaro at safety.