New Orleans headed into the 2014 offseason trying to get even better on defense after a successful transition to a 3-4 scheme in 2013. That led to the landing of stud safety Jairus Byrd, while the Saints were also able to bring on veteran corner Champ Bailey. The rest of the offseason was mostly spent unloading talent, as the Saints let wide receiver Lance Moore go and traded away aging running back Darren Sproles. The key move was franchise tagging tight end Jimmy Graham, however, who the Saints still hope to lock up in a long-term deal.
3-21-14: The story of the offseason in New Orleans has been the status of tight end Jimmy Graham and what his future might hold. For now, all we know for sure is that he’s sticking with the Saints thanks to the franchise tag. It’s not just about Graham, though, as the Saints also traded away running back Darren Sproles, cut wide receiver Lance Moore and even lost safety Malcolm Jenkins. It wasn’t all bad for the Saints, though, as they were able to re-sign explosive receiving threat Joseph Morgan and also kept their offensive line stable by holding onto right tackle Zach Strief. Losing Jenkins ended up being okay in the end with the huge addition of former Bills safety Jairus Byrd, and as long as New Orleans can avoid a holdout with their star tight end, they could be looking at a brighter 2014.
1-15-14: A week ago the New Orleans Saints proved they could go on the road and beat a team outdoors in the playoffs. In round two, they had to prove they could do it again. That proved to be extra difficult, though, as the stage was in Seattle against a tough Seahawks team that smothered Drew Brees and co. in a 34-7 loss earlier in the year. It ended up being about as hard as many felt it’d be, as Brees and the Saints found ways to move the ball, but couldn’t score their first points until the final quarter, down 16-0.
Despite Brees putting up over 300 passing yards and the Saints rushing for 100+ total yards, New Orleans kept coming up empty in scoring position. Part of that came from continued woes in the kicking game, as Shayne Graham shanked two field goals that ended up playing a huge hand in a 23-15 loss.
1-7-14: Who says the Saints can’t win on the road out outdoors? New Orleans did both in the wild card round of the playoffs this past Saturday, as Drew Brees drove his team down the field and new kicker Shayne Graham nailed a field goal late to get the 26-24 win. Drew Brees wasn’t on the top of his game throughout, as he failed to hit 300 yards passing and tossed two interceptions, but he hit the mark when it mattered. Mark Ingram was actually the surprise hero on this one, as the Saints leaned on the ground game and he produced 97 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Nick Foles was prepared for battle on the other side, completing over 69% of his passes and throwing two touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough as the Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs. New Orleans earned a return trip to Seattle to take on the Seahawks, who the lost to just six weeks ago, 34-7.
12-31-13: The playoffs were so close,
Drew Brees could smell it. Brees wasted no time early, carving up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for four first half touchdowns and adding one more on the ground in the second half to get the Saints a 42-17 win. The win got the Saints to 11-5 on the year and snuck them into post-season play.
12-24-13: Drew Brees and the Saints looked to be in control of a season sweep of the Carolina Panthers in week 16, as Brees fired in a touchdown to tight end Jimmy Graham for a 13-10 lead late in the game. Cam Newton drove the Panthers down the field and scored with just 23 seconds remaining, however, putting the NFC South division title up in the air entering week 17.
12-17-13: Drew Brees and the Saints’ high-flying offense got off to a horribly slow start and couldn’t make up for lost ground, falling to the Rams in St. Louis in week 15, 27-16. Brees threw for nearly 400 yards, but also tossed two picks and was sacked four times in a game where New Orleans just simply wasn’t themselves.
12-10-13: New Orleans rebounded from a crushing week 13 blowout loss to wipe the floor with the division rival Carolina Panthers in week 14, winning 31-13 at home. Drew Brees put up over 300 passing yards and scored four times as the Saints all but locked up first place atop the NFC South division.
The Saints’ week 13 battle with the Seattle Seahawks was supposed to be reveal who the best team in the NFC truly is. It may have done much more than that. Despite coming in as one of the league’s better teams, the Saints fell apart at the seams in week 13, as Seattle dominated them in every facet of the game in a 34-7 blowout loss.
11-26-13: New Orleans wasn’t terrible on either side of the ball on Thursday night in week 12. They just couldn’t shake a pesky Atlanta Falcons team that kept hanging around. Despite fairly efficient play across the play, New Orleans could only muster 17 points and needed their defense to finish the job in Atlanta to earn the 17-13 road win.
11-19-13: Drew Brees wasn’t perfect against the San Francisco 49ers in week 11, but he didn’t have to be. The Saints used a beneficial late penalty and two late field goals from kicker Garrett Hartley (the last as time expired) to earn a close 23-20 win at home.
11-12-13: The Saints were expecting a tough matchup in week 10 from the Dallas Cowboys, and possibly even a passing shootout with Tony Romo. That didn’t even come close to happening. New Orleans turned a 14-10 game into a 28-10 blowout at the half, and never took the foot off the gas from there. Drew Brees launched four touchdowns and was at the top of his game all night as the Saints embarrassed Dallas, 49-17.
11-5-13: Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham connected for two scores early for a 14-6 lead that had the Saints looking like they were on their way to their seventh win of 2013. The New York Jets buckled down on defense however, as Brees tossed two interceptions and took two sacks and New York went on a 20-6 run and held on late for the 26-20 win at home.
10-30-13: Drew Brees started off the week after New Orleans’ bye week the right way, as he picked apart the Buffalo Bills for five touchdowns and zero turnovers in a 35-17 home win. The Saints were explosive and efficient across the board, while even racking up four sacks and three turnovers on defense. The win vaulted the Saints to 6-1 on the year through eight weeks.
10-15-13: The New Orleans Saints had the New England Patriots beat. Twice. Bill Belichick opted to go for it with just over two minutes remaining on fourth down on his own side of the field. The Patriots failed, and all it would take is a touchdown or running out the clock for a win. The Saints could only muster up a field goal. After a Tom Brady interception on the next possession, New Orleans had a chance to end the game, but again couldn’t get it done. That gave Brady one last chance. With five seconds left, the third time proved to be the charm, as Brady hit the game-winning scoring strike to Kenbrell Thompkins, giving the Pats the 30-27 home win and handing the Saints their first loss of 2013. It was a heart-breaking loss, to say the least; one that cheapens an otherwise solid performance by the New Orleans defense.
10-8-13: Drew Brees normally struggles against the Chicago Bears, but that certainly wasn’t the case in week five, as Brees simply took what the Bears gave him in a 26-18 road win. Brees completed over 80% of his passes and hooked up with tight end Jimmy Graham at will, but the real story of this week five battle arguably lies with the Saints defense. New Orleans sacked Jay Cutler three times and forced a fumble that helped them hold their opponent to 18 or less points for the fifth straight time to help them start 2013 at 5-0.
10-1-13: The New Orleans Saints continued to prove they’re a legit Super Bowl contender with head coach Sean Payton back on the sidelines, as they took a briefly close game and ran it into a 38-17 blowout win at home. Drew Brees was unstoppable through the air in this one, as he took advantage of four Ryan Tannehill turnovers to top 400 yards passing and throw four touchdown passes. Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham were the notable benefactors to Brees’ big night, as both found the end-zone at least once and combined for 214 receiving yards on just 11 catches. The defense also showed up big in this prime time showdown, forcing Tannehill into poor decisions and holding a normally solid Miami offense to just 10 points through the first three quarters.
9-20-13: So much for big offensive game this was expected to be. In what surprisingly turned into a defensive showdown, the Saints were able to hold off the Bucs for a 16-14 win. Drew Brees completed 26 of 46 passes for 322 yards and a TD, but also threw two picks. However, Brees did lead a final drive late in the game that was capped by kicker Garrett Hartley’s 27-yard field goal to steal the 16-14 win as time expired. Next week, the Saints return home to take on the Arizona Cardinals.
9-10-13: Looking to put last year's struggles firmly behind them, the Saints opened up the 2013 campaign with an impressive 23-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Drew Brees lead the way offensively with over 350 passing yards but it was the Saints’ defense was the unlikely hero. In week 2, the Saints head to Tampa to take on the Bucs who are coming off a bad loss to the Jets.
9-3-13: Here are the Saints final roster cuts of the preseason: NT Isaako Aaitui, OLB Baraka Atkins, DB Chris Carr, QB Ryan Griffin, WR Saalim Hakim, TE Michael Higgins, S Jim Leonhard, FB Austin Johnson, OLB Rufus Johnson, OT Marcel Jones, CB Korey Lindsey, G Elliott Mealer, TE Keavon Milton, S Jerico Nelson, WR Preston Parker, DE Jay Richardson, WR Courtney Roby, CB Jumal Rolle, ILB Ray Shipman, OG Andrew Tiller, C Jeremiah Warren.
8-20-13: The Saints improved to 2-0 on the preseason with their 28-20 win over the Raiders. Drew Brees had a great game, especially for the preseason, completing 14 of 18 (78%) passes for 202 yards and a touchdown--a 16 yard strike to rookie Kenny Stills. Rookie running back Khiry Robinson pitched in with 10 rushing attempts for 50 yards. The Saints defense was also very good early on, sacking Matt Flynn five times in the 1st half as the Saints opened up a 23-0 lead. The Saints head to Houston to take on the Texans next Sunday afternoon.
8-11-13: The Saints defeated the Chiefs 17-13 to open their preseason schedule. Drew Brees was 7 for 10 for 65 yards in limited action. Backup Luke McCown was 18 of 28 for 216 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception. Rookie running back Khiry Robinson carried the ball 12 times for 52 yards.
7-10-13: The Saints’ best addition heading into 2013 is easily the return of suspended head coach, Sean Payton. However, they’re also getting more creative on defense, as they shift to a 3-4 lead by Rob Ryan, and will move rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro around to help defend the run and cover slot receivers. The Saints are mostly the same on an offense still lead by Drew Brees, but should be better with a healthier Mark Ingram and Jimmy Graham.
6-25-13: The New Orleans Saints went from potential Super Bowl contender to a dreary 0-4 start in 2012, but with the return of head coach Sean Payton, TiqIQ.com senses loads of value in their 2013 home game schedule.
Without Payton last year, the Saints struggled to find balance all year long, and too often relied on quarterback Drew Brees. That lead to another 5,000+ yard season for Brees, as well as a boatload of points for the offense, but it also lead to 19 interceptions and far too many losses.
This season, Payton is back at the wheel and has already vowed to have a more balanced offense on the field, as well as a more consistent defense.
2013 Saints Draft Overview:
Round 1, Pick 15: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Round 3, Pick 13: Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Round 3, Pick 20 (from Chicago through Miami) (82): John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Round 5, Pick 11: Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma
Round 6, Pick 15: Rufus Johnson, DE, Tarleton State
12-4-12: The Saints are 5-7 and really shot themselves in the foot last week by losing to Atlanta. Despite the high-powered offense, the Saints have been unble to put up a winning record due to a weak defense. One can also question whether the suspensions and controversy surrounding the team all season has anything to do with their up and down play. However with four games left, the Saints are not dead yet. Up next is a tough game against the New York Giants which could either seal their fate or propel a magical run.