The NFC South was once a powerhouse of the NFC, sporting teams with good quarterbacks and tough defenses. The Atlanta Falcons earned a #1 seed, the New Orleans Saints won a Super Bowl, as did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Carolina Panthers went to a Super Bowl. During this whole time not once did the same team win the NFC South in consecutive years.
Last season it was the Saints that took it on the chin. Despite a Top 5 offense with Drew Brees, New Orleans fielded a defense so pitiful that teams scored virtually at will. The Saints ended up in the bottom 5 of the NFL on defense despite being #4 the previous season. That opened some eyes in the Crescent City.
Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan is on the hot seat now. New Orleans traded away Jimmy Graham, their leading threat, and Kenny Stills, a promising speedster on offense. The picks were spent on defense mostly as the Saints try to rebuild without tearing down completely, and change their team philosophy towards more balance. Mark Ingram will get plenty of carries while Drew Brees will see his passing numbers decline as the running game takes more prominence.
Bear in mind that with Sean Payton at the helm the New Orleans Saints will still be a team that is likely to be imaginative on offense, just not as often. Brees could reap the benefit of fewer but more effective passing. It’s the defense that will make the difference and the uncertainty there is huge. New Orleans brought in Brandon Browner to man one corner and drafted P.J. Williams to probably play nickel while Keenan Lewis handles the other side. Keep this in mind though. The Saints got Center Max Unger in the deal with Seattle and drafted Andrus Peat to beef up the offensive line. The New Orleans Saints may get better on defense simply by being a better running team. Nobody knows yet how all this will play out, which makes the Saints, a team heralded as a Super Bowl contender last season that fell on their faces, a Wild Card in the NFC South.Eric Drouant