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Cutting Room Floor

Icon Sports Media - 49ers at Saints 2011 Preseason


The Titans crucified the Saints in their last preseason game 32-9.  Four fumbles and a missed field goal are not the stand out stats fans are looking for as we begin the regular season this week.  However - and I am not making excuses - this game was more about finalizing the roster and less about how competitive the Saints will be this year.  Our offensive starters, and a fair number of defensive starters, didn’t see any playing time.  Since Thursday, 22 players have been waived or released.  So, where do the Saints stand now that they have made their final cuts? 


The offense is poised to be as strong, if not stronger, than in year past.  Chase Daniels is an effective understudy for Brees – so much that Saints cut their third QB Sean Canfield, going with only two QBs.  The receiving core remains largely in tact and will be bolstered by a deep and ominous running attack.  Thomas, Sproles, Ingram and Bell can pound the middle and threaten in space.  Chris Ivory was placed on injured reserve and should offer depth throughout the season.  With fresh legs all the time, there may be better balance between run and pass plays.  In the Payton/Brees era, play selection has skewed towards the passing game:


  • 2010 – 37% run / 63% pass
  • 2009 – 46% run / 54% pass
  • 2008 – 38% run / 62% pass
  • 2007 – 38% run / 62% pass
  • 2006 – 45% run / 55% pass


In the deep playoff run of 2006 and Super Bowl win in 2009, the Saints had the best balance of run/pass.


Defensively, the Saints retain many familiar faces on the first string (Smith, Ellis, Charleston, Vilma, Shanle, Greer, Harper, Porter, Jenkins) offering continuity.  The depth in our defense is more of a question for me.  This, combined with Darren Sharper’s remote chance of return, introduces some uncertainty around the defense.


And then there is the kicking game.  With Garrett Hartley on the IR, we signed 21-year veteran John Kasay from the Panthers.  His average kicking percentage is 82% - about average for the league.  The Saints have everything but average kicking success (see blog: “Don’t Hate the Kicker”), so this move appears to be a solid one.


Bottom line, the Saints talent is top-notch this year – we expect another playoff run.  For those player that didn’t make the cut, we wish them well.' dat's dat!