PFT preseason power rankings No. 19: New Orleans Saints

AP

There are changes every year in the NFL, but a few things we have come to count on.

Drew Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Sean Payton’s one of the most creative offensive minds, and the Saints defense continues to serve as the anchor for both, dragging them to the bottom of the division.

They made significant changes this offseason, but not enough to fix a defense that needed help at every level.

But they also tinkered with the offense, adding an all-time running back in Adrian Peterson, and trading a star wide receiver (Brandin Cooks) to the Patriots.

It’s a risky bet, fiddling with the one things they can more or less count on. But the Saints have to evolve if they want to keep up with the Falcons and Buccaneers and Panthers, who each in their own way create offensive matchup problems.

The Saints have more issues on the other side of the ball than the rest of their division, which probably leaves them as the clear fourth of four.

Biggest positive change: They continued to bring in reinforcements for what has been a historically bad defense. Getting inside linebacker A.J. Klein away from the Panthers could be a good piece of business, and drafting cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Marcus Williams could lend immediate benefits. Mixing in linebacker Manti Te’o provides some quality depth which they have lacked.

They have a long way to go before they can be considered mediocre, but they’re at least on the road toward something other than awful.

Biggest negative change: The Saints cut bait on historical free agent bust Jairus Byrd, but their biggest problems were not related to personnel transactions.

Between the heart issue that will keep defensive tackle Nick Fairley out for the season and possibly be career-ending, and the torn labrum suffered by left tackle Terron Armstead, the Saints took two major blows.

The bigger concern with Fairley is obviously his health, but Armstead’s condition will have a major impact on what they want to do on the field.

Protecting Brees is their biggest priority, and now it will be in the hands of first-rounder Ryan Ramcyzk. Oh, by the way, center Max Unger is coming off foot surgery and isn’t expected to be ready until the start of the regular season. That’s practically the good news here.

Coaching thermometer: Cool, as long as Payton wants it to be that way. He just signed a lucrative extension last year, but the constant chatter about his next job exists for some reason. He’s got the run of the place for the time being, and other than Brees, it’s easy to argue he’s their most valuable asset.

We’d like to crack a beer with . . . It would be kind of fun to put some truth serum in Mark Ingram. Ostensibly the lead running back going into the offseason, he got a former MVP dropped into his meeting room and now has to adjust. He’s said all the right things so far, and the two of them could make an intriguing tandem if they use them that way. But it’s also easy to wonder how the job-share will work, and whether everyone will still be happy about it by the end of the year. Ingram had done enough to seemingly be trusted, so hearing his thoughts on the team’s future and his own would be interesting.

How they can prove us wrong: They can still score with anyone. Adding Peterson to the offense lends a different element (I mean, as long as Peterson’s healthy and anything like his pre-knee injury form). Michael Thomas emerged as enough of a receiving threat that they were willing to flip Cooks, and backfilling with Ted Ginn helps keep them fast.

But there are some very good offenses around them in their own division, so winning shootouts is far from a sure thing. That defense will have to improve more than a defense which didn’t add a pass-rusher might be able to for them to make up ground.

27 responses to “PFT preseason power rankings No. 19: New Orleans Saints

  1. These rankings are a joke! An already bad defense loses Armstead and Fairley, and this team is ranked 19th? The NFC South has turned into a pretty good division, PFT says the Saints will be 4th. The Cardinals whose talent level is far superior to them plays in the garbage West with the Ninera and Rams and PFT has them 2nd in the division but 22nd in the rankings. I think the PFT staff has been visiting the new recreational weed locations in Vegas.

  2. I’d like to crack a beer with Mickey Loomis and find out what he has on Benson, it has to be something horrific. $80m in dead cap in just the last 2 years but his seat seems to be every bit as comfy as Payton’s. Outside of Jones and maybe Elway and Belichick no other GM’s in the league could survive that. The mystery of how Loomis keeps his job should be the NFL equivalent of the final whereabouts of Earhart, Hoffa and D.B. Cooper put together yet never a word. The omerta even extends to the media

  3. “Drew Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Sean Payton’s one of the most creative offensive minds, and the Saints defense continues to serve as the anchor for both, dragging them to the bottom of the division.”

    I’m sure you thought this sounded good when you wrote it, but it’s inaccurate. The Saints haven’t finished last (at the bottom of the division) since 2008, the year before they won the Super Bowl. Don’t let facts get in the way of your artistic sentences.

  4. Every GM going to mess up somewhere but all of them can’t work them numbers like Mickey Loomis, that is the main thing what keep Mickey Loomis in the Big Easy. Mickey Loomis did good in 2017 now if he can keep that dead money from appearing at the end of 2017 season, the Saints will move up the ladder because when you owe money out no way in hell you are going to be a contender you have nothing to work with.

  5. Bob says:
    Jul 16, 2017 4:39 PM
    “Drew Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Sean Payton’s one of the most creative offensive minds, and the Saints defense continues to serve as the anchor for both, dragging them to the bottom of the division.”

    I’m sure you thought this sounded good when you wrote it, but it’s inaccurate. The Saints haven’t finished last (at the bottom of the division) since 2008, the year before they won the Super Bowl. Don’t let facts get in the way of your artistic sentences.

    ——————————————-
    They could finish last this year.

  6. Mark Ingram will be the least of the Saint’s concerns. He’s a team player all the way.

  7. Their D doesn’t have to be good. When they won the SB the D was not good, just very good/fortunate in the turnover department.

    19 is about right for them. There will be several teams in the bottom half of this and other rankings, that will finish the season in the top half. We all know that, and other teams will drop.

    I’m of the opinion that a lot of media folks are too hot on teams that haven’t done anything yet (Titans, Bucs, Raiders, Cowboys) at the expense of teams that have been to the playoffs more than once in recent years (Bengals, Cardinals, Redskins). We’ll all find out in the next 7 months

  8. I think theirs a greater chance that the Bucs finish last 6-10…

    the Panthers 7-9 while cam continues to be distracted (whining) about hits on qbs….

    Saints maybe 8-8 if offense can score again to off-set defense weakness…

    Falcons 10-6 or close to that..

  9. Ingram is NOT a team player, and neither was Cooks. Cooks complained to the media, and Ingram throws girly little tantrums on the sidelines. Both were mad about their own stats rather than wins and losses. Cooks got traded, and Ingram got Adrian Peterson.

  10. @eagle Terron Armstead is an offensive tackle, not a defensive tackle.

    And though Jairus Byrd had largely been a bust, the bust is more on Loomis for signing him to that huge deal to play a three deep cover 3 type defense and then signing Rob Ryan to run it, despite Rob Ryan’s scheme being completely, utterly, and totally different. Add to that the fact that they lost Jabari Greer to injury (a free agent Band-Aid himself that actually worked well until he got hurt) and Keenan Allen to free agency and you have a team with one decent player (Vaccaro) in the secondary run by a terrible defensive coordinator in Dennis Allen. Compounding that fact is the failure of the front office to replace Junior Gallette at the edge rusher position, which is also due in part to the front office’s failure to procure quality defensive linemen. Nick Fairley was a great move, and now he may have to retire, so unfortunately that success is erased. Lastly, there is a huge hole at inside linebacker that Stephone Anthony hopefully can step up and fill for a while so that the other front seven positions can be filled.

    Positives? Well, Delvin Breaux may turn out to be of help in the secondary if he remains healthy and continues to grow as a player. Hopefully their OLB whose name I cannot recall (Kikaha?) can recover from his ACL injury and step up as well. Hopefully Nick Fairley returns healthy. That’s about it on defense. Marshon Lattimore was good pick, if his hamstring stays alright, and Alex Anzalone may turn out to be what they need at ILB. But the defense isn’t fixed with their selection, they’re just more options at the moment.

    I echo what someone above said, Loomis has not done a good job creating a balanced team and Sean Payton, while an offensive genius, needs to do a better job with his coaching staff and personnel input to help do that. Trading your best reciever for a draft pick in the prime of his career while still on his rookie deal may be smart when rebuilding, but if your franchise QB is 38 or so years old, it’s an unnecessary risk. Granted, they used the picks on a tackle and LB, but the drifting between rebuilding and competing and refusal to commit to either is just confusing. That’s how you end up with 7-9. And that Colby Fleener contract is downright ridiculous, especially considering that the man can’t even block.

  11. jag1959 says:
    Jul 16, 2017 4:25 PM
    I’d like to crack a beer with Mickey Loomis and find out what he has on Benson, it has to be something horrific. $80m in dead cap in just the last 2 years but his seat seems to be every bit as comfy as Payton’s. Outside of Jones and maybe Elway and Belichick no other GM’s in the league could survive that. The mystery of how Loomis keeps his job should be the NFL equivalent of the final whereabouts of Earhart, Hoffa and D.B. Cooper put together yet never a word. The omerta even extends to the media

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    excelllent post

    it started with the jahri evans deal in 2010, and he has
    proceeded to be more dumb and clueless by the year since

    and, drew brees hasn’t been the best team
    player for a while now either. he runs his mouth
    after gouging loomis and the team with that
    contract

    it is like they have been on a sb hangover for
    close to a decade, all patting themselves on the ack

  12. I guess we will have to wait and see, but I think the Saints Defense will be about “average” this season. An average defense for the Saints, and maybe a few extra turnovers and special teams plays (they lost two very winnable games last year on bonehead special teams plays) and this team is 11-5 or better.

  13. timesausage says:
    Jul 16, 2017 9:31 PM
    Ingram is NOT a team player, and neither was Cooks. Cooks complained to the media, and Ingram throws girly little tantrums on the sidelines. Both were mad about their own stats rather than wins and losses. Cooks got traded, and Ingram got Adrian Peterson.

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    cooks will fall in line well in new england

    the leadership and environment on a team
    is important

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