Jeff Duncan: The Saints need a big offseason. History shows they’re due for one

Jeff Ireland: Saints not ‘throwing up the white towel’ after Broncos poach Cody Rager
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The beauty of the NFL is you’re only just one good offseason away from glory.

The NFL’s parity-driven business model facilitates organizational turnarounds quicker than any other league.

Hit on a few key draft picks, coaching hires and free agent acquisitions, and a team can go from bad to good and from good to great in a few short months.

Exhibit A: the Houston Texans. A year ago, things looked bleak in Houston. Then the Texans hired head coach DeMeco Ryans and drafted C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. The Texans went from worst to first in the AFC South Division and were among the NFL’s elite eight at the end of the year. The future suddenly looks quite promising in Houston.

Which brings us to the Saints. Few teams need a big offseason more than the Saints. They’ve missed the playoffs for three consecutive years, and their fans have become either frustrated, forlorn or ambivalent. Their roster is one of the oldest in the league, and their past five drafts have netted just one Pro Bowl player (Erik McCoy). Head coach Dennis Allen is vying with Mayor LaToya Cantrell for worst approval rating in the city.

The Saints need to string together a few wins this offseason.

The good news is they’ve done it before. Mickey Loomis has executed multiple offseason makeovers during his 22-year run as general manager. 

Just like the regular season, winning the offseason requires a strong game plan, aggressive mindset and flawless execution. Loomis and Allen will need to be bold to be successful this spring and summer.

Team officials got things started earlier this month by overhauling their offensive coaching staff. New offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak is highly regarded in league circles and boasts a strong pedigree, but only time will tell if he can spark the team’s sputtering attack. 

A tight salary cap will complicate matters, but Loomis is an expert in NFL cap-onomics. If anyone can squeeze blood from the Saints’ cap turnip, it’s him.

History tells us extreme makeovers are possible. The Saints desperately need to make one happen over the next few months. If not, some folks on Airline Drive might not be around to see another offseason in New Orleans.

A look at the Saints’ best offseason makeovers of the past 25 years:

2006

Key hires: Head coach Sean Payton; offensive coordinator Doug Marrone; and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs.

Key trades: C Jeff Faine from Cleveland; DT Hollis Thomas from Philadelphia; LB Mark Simoneau from Scott Shanle from Dallas.

Key free agents: QB Drew Brees; LB Scott Fujita; C Jonathan Goodwin; TE Billy Miller.

Key draft picks: OG Jahri Evans; RB Reggie Bush; WR Marques Colston; S Roman Harper; OT Zach Strief.

The gold standard by which all other Saints offseasons will be judged. The Saints seemingly hit on every move they made. Loomis not only astutely picked Payton over fellow finalists Maurice Carthon, Donnie Henderson, Mike Martz and Mike Sherman, but he also helped lure Brees to the Saints through free agency. And he did so at a time when post-Katrina New Orleans was viewed as a professional wasteland. The 2006 draft class formed the core of the Saints’ 2009 Super Bowl team and is regarded as one of the best in NFL history, netting six players that enjoyed 10-plus-year career. The Saints went from worst to first in the NFC South.

2000

Key hires: General manager Randy Mueller; head coach Jim Haslett; director of football administration Mickey Loomis; offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy.

Key free agents: WR Joe Horn; QB Jeff Blake; DT Norman Hand; LB Charlie Clemons; WR Willie Jackson; TE Andrew Glover.

Key trades: QB Aaron Brooks from Green Bay; CB Kevin Mathis from Dallas.

Key draft picks: DE Darren Howard (R2), FB Terrell Smith (R4), RB Chad Morton (R5).

This free agent class might have been the best in club history, led by future Pro Bowl receiver Joe Horn and veteran quarterback Blake, who teamed with Brooks to immediately stabilize the quarterback position. The additions of Hand and Howard to the already formidable tandem of La’Roi Glover and Joe Johnson gave the Saints the most dominant pass rush in the league. As a result, the Saints went from 3-13 to 10-6 and won the first playoff game in franchise history, an uplifting 31-28 upset of the St. Louis Rams. In their inaugural seasons in New Orleans, Mueller and Haslett were named the NFL’s Executive of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively.

2009

Key hires: Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Key free agents: S Darren Sharper; CB Jabari Greer; DE Anthony Hargrove.

Key draft picks: S Malcolm Jenkins.

The Saints desperately needed to fix their defense and managed to do so in one offseason. Greer, Jenkins and Sharper transformed the secondary from a weakness to a strength, and the cocksure Williams brought a swagger and aggressive scheme to the defensive unit. Few teams had addressed a glaring need so prudently or effectively in the salary car era. Suddenly, the defense was holding its own and even winning its daily practice competitions with the Brees-led offense. The remade Saints shocked the NFL by winning their first 13 games en route to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.

2017

Key hires: Defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen; linebackers coach Mike Nolan.

Key free agents: C G Larry Warford; WR Ted Ginn Jr.; LB A.J. Klein; DE Alex Okafor.

Key draft picks: CB Marshon Lattimore; RB Alvin Kamara; RT Ryan Ramczyk; DE Trey Hendrickson; S Marcus Williams; LB Alex Anzalone.

As good as the 2006 draft class was, this group was even better. Lattimore, Kamara, Ramczyk and Williams became immediate starters, and injected play-making ability to both sides of the ball. Nielsen and Nolan solidified the defensive coaching staff, and the Saints more than doubled their interception total from the previous season (from 9 to 20). Consequently, the Saints improved their record from 7-9 to 11-5 and won their fourth division title in the Payton-Brees era.

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About Mary Weyand 12338 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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