The New Orleans Saints had a very disappointing regular season. They finished the season as third in the NFC south division with a 7-9 overall record. Seven of their nine losses were by less than seven points. Statistically, their season was up and down. They finished as the number one overall offense, but 27th overall in defense. They recently fired five coaches, all either defensive or special teams coaches. They will need to continue to make changes in order to improve next season. Here are a few changes that they might look to make.
Draft a Linebacker
It is no secret that the Saints struggled on the defensive side of the ball this season. They were ranked 19th in defending the run and it hurt them late in games this season. The first player off of the board for the Saints will most likely be a defensive player, the question is which position. Inside linebacker is a strength of the upcoming draft that the Saints may look to capitalize on. They have the 11th overall pick and a quality linebacker like Reuben Foster out of Alabama may fall to them. Foster is an excellent inside linebacker that would drastically improve the run defense and may be an asset the Saints can’t pass up.
Bench Delvin Breaux
Delvin Breaux had high expectations heading in to the season. He had a phenomenal rookie season in which he was clearly one of the best defensive players on the team. In week one of this season, he caught a tough break suffering a broken leg. When he returned to the Saints later in the season, he was a non-factor. The Saints pass defense was just as dismal as their run defense, if not more so. They will need to evaluate every defensive position, especially cornerback. While it may be considered a little extreme, don’t be surprised if Breaux starts next season on the bench.
Draft a Pass Rusher
The Saints struggled mightily getting after the quarterback this season. They only recorded 30 sacks on the season which ranked 27th in the NFL. They have a fringe top ten pick that they could use to tap into the defensive talent of this draft class. An outside linebacker or defensive end known for rushing the passer would fit perfectly into the Saints scheme and could improve their defensive pressure schemes. Defensive end Derek Barnett out of Tennessee comes to mind. He is the all time career sacks leader at Tennessee. He will be able to line up opposite of Cameron Jordan and wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks, exactly what the Saints need.
The Saints do not need to make too many drastic changes. They had the best offense in the NFL and many of the games they lost were very close. They will need to improve in many facets on the defensive side of the ball and once again trust in the leadership of Sean Payton and Drew Brees. If they can make the correct offseason moves, they may be poised for a turnaround next season.