He writes that the Saints' fun was snapped when the Saints were battered, physically throughout their 36-32 loss to the 49ers, and embarrassed late when the defense couldn't hold a lead in crunch time. The Saints piled up 472 yards of offense, but their defense couldn't stop the 49ers when it counted.
The writer notes that the arrival of Steve Spagnuolo will impact the defense. Gregg Williams was the savior in 2009, the missing Super Bowl piece. How things have changed.
Williams' contract wasn't renewed before the bounty scandal because his defense proved inconsistent and ultimately ineffective in 2010 and 2011, including the horrible playoff showings against the Seahawks and 49ers.
He writes that all eyes will be on new coordinator Spagnuolo's defense, what they do and how they do it when on the field because of the bounty system.
The defense's biggest challenge will come from getting more from a woeful pass rush.
He believes getting more help from the front seven will take a load off a secondary that is actually underrated, but often, was often left hanging out to dry.
Mantzouranis writes that teams slowly started to figure how to defense the Saints' mufti-option option attack, and as a result, Drew Brees became more reliant on Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. He writes that while those men aren't bad options to have at your disposal, it meant that the team couldn't dictate things as much as they've been used to in the past.
He believes the Saints should have kept Robert Meachem and that Adrian Arrington has yet to prove he can handle a bigger role while rookie Nick Toon is promising, he probably won't get much work this year.
He believes the Saints' passing game should still be one of the league's best, buy don't expect another record-breaking performance which the Saints may need if the defense can't find its footing under Spagnuolo soon enough.
Here's his outlook for the Saints: "Again. it's hard to see the wheels completely falling off this year, there's still way too much talent and familiarity within the organization. But in a year in which the rest of the NFC South should be all better, don't expect the Saints to run away with the division. I still expect them to win it, but it'll be a season-long fight with the Falcons, and maybe the Bucs, to get there. Given what the Saints are fading this season, that's pretty impressive."
SOME hither, others yon: Eric Gordon hopes the Hornets don't match a four-year, $58 million offer sheet he signed with the Suns, but said he'll play here , but won't be happy. Most GMs would issue a message like this to the media: "We want guys that want to be here. We want guys who are about team, who are committed to something bigger than themselves. We want guys who are about the right things." Gordon has played in fewer games each year since becoming an NBA player. He saw action in nine games for the Hornets last season with a knee injury...
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