In 2013, the Saints lived or died by the passing of Drew Brees. Many think that was due to the weakness of the offensive line. Can this unit change that way of thinking? And possibly make a run to the Super Bowl once more?
One thing that even the most casual of Saints fans could all agree on in terms of successes/failures over the course of last season is that the weakest link was without a doubt the offensive line. That translated into QB Drew Brees not only being sacked, but being hit far too often. But even worse than that was a largely ineffective ground game.
I mean, think about it-how many times last season were there when all that New Orleans needed was just one first down to secure the win-only to punt the ball away and lose the game on a last minute drive? New England? Carolina? And just those two games alone could've meant the difference in an 11-5 or a 13-3 season. and a division title...at the very least.
Of the starters from last season, the Saints lost OT Charles Brown (NYG) and C Brian de la Puente (CHI). They've brought in OT Ty Nsekhe from St Louis, as well as rookies OT Tavon Rooks, C Matthew Armstrong, and RG Micajah Reynolds.
Across the front, the projected starters heading into training camp are:
Another player that could figure into the picture at center is veteran Tim Lelito. Lelito is a talented player who can, and has, played virtually any position across the front. He looked to be the starter until Goodwin was brought back in from San Francisco. Goodwin was the starter for New Orleans during their Super Bowl run of 2009.
Armstead, if you recall, worked his way into the starting lineup as a rookie last season after Charles Brown was benched leading up to the second game versus Carolina. His trial by fire did however, by the end of their playoff run, lead to them being able to move the ball more effectively on the ground. That should prove to be a solid foundation for New Orleans to build on going into training camp.
But all Saints fans know that the true measuring stick that this unit will be judged by is whether or not they will be able to keep Drew Brees upright and protected. And unfortunately, the answer to that question will be a little longer in coming.
But that answer could just be what determines whether the New Orleans Saints creep into the playoffs as a wildcard team once again, or instead have them dancing in the desert come February.