Saints should be ‘good,’ but ‘great’ is a plateau away
With another solid draft this month, the Saints may go from mediocre to good.
But, getting from good to great will be a much taller task.
Jim Collins authored the business bestseller, “Good to Great,” and one of its founding principles certainly can be applied to your favorite football team.
“Great vision without great people is irrelevant,” wrote Collins.
In 2009, the numbers say the Saints were a great football team. They won 13 regular-season games, scored 107 points in three post-season games, including the Super Bowl.
The Saints had an astounding point differential of plus-169, tops in the NFL. The Saints were over 10 points a game better than the competition.
The Saints had great players everywhere. For one season, safety Darren Sharper was the best defensive player in the NFL. Sharper had nine interceptions, three of them returned for touchdowns. Sharper’s 376 return yards broke Ed Reed’s record, a record that still stands.
Defensive end Will Smith had 13 quarterback sacks and three forced fumbles.
Wide receivers Robert Meachem and Marques Colston had stellar seasons. Meachem averaged 16 yards a catch and had nine touchdown receptions. Colston averaged 15.3 yards a reception and also had nine TD receptions.
Quarterback Drew Brees averaged a career-best 8.54 yards a completion. He completed 70.6 percent of his passes, throwing 34 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions.
However, Brees’ numbers in 2015 weren’t much worse than the Super Bowl season. He completed 68.3 percent of his throws, with 32 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. The biggest difference in Brees’ numbers were in pass attempts. He threw 627 times in 2015. In the Super Bowl season, he threw only 514 times.
Which is one of the biggest differences from the Saints, then and now. That is, great offensive line play.
In the Super Bowl season, Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, were the best guard tandem in the NFL. Pierre Thomas rushed for 793 yards. Mike Bell – yes, Mike Bell – was the Saints’ second-leading rusher with 654 yards.
So, more than six years after the greatest day in Saints’ franchise history, the club needs to look for greatness.
It can be found in a myriad of ways. Brees and Sharper were unrestricted free agents. Evans and Nicks were mid-round draft selections. Will Smith was a first-round pick.
As head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis immerse themselves in draft preps, maybe another Collins quote should look large.
“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”
Time to choose not only good, but great.