Saints’ fall from grace calls for off-season fixes
Even a fast finish and an NFC South title shouldn’t cloud the obvious. The New Orleans Saints are going to need some serious offseason surgery.
To use a Jim Mora axiom, the good teams get it done. And, in 2014, the Saints certainly don’t appear to be good enough.
It started in the offseason. To save cap dollars, the Saints traded running back Darren Sproles to the Eagles. Sproles has four rushing touchdowns, is averaging 6.6 yards per carry, and has returned two punts for touchdowns. Sproles was also averaging 12.2 yards a reception.
The Saints were hoping Travaris Cadet could fill Sproles’ role. Cadet is averaging 8.5 yards per reception with one touchdown.
The Saints also allowed former first-round pick safety Malcolm Jenkins to walk in free agency. Jenkins has three interceptions through 10 games. His replacement, Jairus Byrd, forced one fumble in the season-opener at Atlanta before he went to injured reserve.
The greatest player in franchise history, quarterback Drew Brees, is behind last year’s numbers. Heading into the Monday night game against Baltimore, Brees had 18 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.
In 2013, after 10 games, Brees had 26 touchdown passes and only eight interceptions.
Wide receiver Marques Colston, with 30 catches, including one for a touchdown, is far off last year’s pace. Colston finished 2013 with 75 receptions, five for touchdowns.
The Saints’ secondary, a disappointment in 2013 with only 12 interceptions, is on pace for fewer. This season, the Saints have six interceptions. Cornerback Corey White is the leader with two.
The Saints’ 2014 draft has, thus far, been a huge disappointment.
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks has three touchdown receptions and one rushing score. But Cooks has yet to have a 100-yard receiving game.
Second-round pick, cornerback Stanley Jean Baptiste, and the second of two fifth-round picks, linebacker Ronald Powell, have made little contribution.
Fourth-round pick, linebacker Khari Fortt was cut. Fifth-round pick, safety Vinny Sunseri, went to injured reserve. And sixth-round pick, offensive tackle Tavon Rooks, is on the practice squad.
The Saints will head to the offseason with salary cap issues. The website overthecap.com says the Saints have just under $159 million in salaries on the books for next season. If the salary cap comes in at $140 million, the Saints could be $19 million over.
In the meantime, the Saints are 4-6 under Sean Payton for a second time.
Payton always places the blame on himself after losses. After all, he is the head coach and has a huge say in personnel.
Regardless of what the Saints do or don’t do over the final six weeks of the regular season, winds of change will soon be blowing at the Saints’ facility on Airline Drive.