The 2016 season finished 7-9 where I thought it would at the beginning of the season.
I will say that I’m more enthusiastic about this 7-9 record then I was the previous two years. The defense while still a work in progress was much improved from the previous seasons.
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It also has a long way to go. A pass rusher opposite Jordan is a must. As is help at the linebacker positions. Seeing Atlanta doing whatever they wanted to do vs this Defense twice this year shows we need help.
Also troubling are the reports by players that the Falcons knew what plays we were running on Defense. That doesn’t necessarily give me confidence in Dennis Allen. Missing Vaccaro certainly hurts. As well as missing almost all of the secondary. (Breaux, Williams, Swann, Wilson, Crawley). Finding Moore and Webb were exceptional finds and should have a place on this team in the future.
All and all this was a defense that still doesn’t create enough turnovers. It’s a defense that seems to play to the ability of their opponents. Offense can’t score at Tampa, defense plays well. Offense lights up Tampa. Defense gives up points. You can insert many games this season, and see the same pattern.
Offensively, with all the we need to find a replacement QB talk, Brees quietly put up a top three season of his career, third most passing yards in the history of the league. Most touchdowns passes since 2013 with 37. Take away two stinkers vs Detroit and Tampa where he threw zero touchdowns and six interceptions and he’s getting better at 38 years old.
Ingram had an up and down year but still became the first Saint to rush for 1000 yards since Deuce. The wide receivers are the best three under the age of 24 in the league. Mike Thomas has become a major weapon. With some fine tuning of the offensive line, getting younger. There is no reason to suggest a drop off offensively.
A healthy Armstead at left tackle with Peat at left guard and Unger at Center is a start. Somewhere a right guard and right tackle will have to be found. They keep pressing their luck with Evans and Strief. Although they each had one of their best seasons in 2016.
Finally the team needs to finish games. Losses vs Oakland and Denver never should of happened. Sloppy execution and turnovers at Kansas City and Carolina made games uphill battles. The line is fine between 7-9 and 11-5.
The schedule is tough again next year. Games vs the Patriots, Dolphins won’t be easy. Neither will at Green Bay or Minnesota. The Redskins and Lions have had our number as of late. And the NFC South is top to bottom very competitive. There is not another division in football where every team has a competent QB. Another slow start out of the gate will doom the 2017 Saints.
So this years free agency and draft are essential to the success in 2017. This season I’m hoping is similar to the 2008 Saints who finished 8-8 as a work in progress. They worked out the mistakes and kinks that year leading to a successful 2009 season.