Some fans — even fans of other teams — are noticing that the Saints are getting the preseason love this summer:
On USATODAY.com, I read that all the major football magazines have the Saints winning the NFC South. You know that you have now been cursed ( I'm kidding). — Canapanthersfan.
Cursed? How about perceptive. No team in the division did more to shore up their perceived weaknesses than the Saints. They spent plenty of money and draft choices upgrading their defense after a dismal 2007, and I don't see any way the Saints aren't at least in the middle of the pack in total defense. Their sacks and turnovers forced should also go up. The Saints didn't need to do much on offense. In fact, the smartest thing GM Mickey Loomis did was keep the offense together, with the exception of losing C Jeff Faine to Tampa Bay. This will be their third year in the same offense and with the same triggerman, Drew Brees. I don't see any way this team finishes under .500 in 2008, unless it endures another rash of injuries or stumbles out of the gate. They're my pick to win the division.
Here's a pointed question about Reggie Bush:
Is this the breakout year for Reggie Bush? Yes or no? — Boomerjay38
Nothing like getting right to the point. Bush has 2,305 total yards and 14 combined touchdowns in 28 career games. Break that down by game and he's gaining 83 yards per game and scoring less than half a touchdown per game (not taking into account kickoff and punt returns). Bush's receiving numbers actually went up last year, while his rushing yardage — even without Deuce McAllister in the lineup most of the season — remained the same. Bush cleared 70 or more yards rushing just twice after McAllister left the lineup and never made it to 100 yards. The perception is that Bush didn't pick up the slack, and there's some validity to that.
But the way the Saints use Bush he'll likely never gain 1,000 yards rushing. At 6-foot, 203 pounds, he's not Roger Craig or Marshall Faulk tough, both of which gained 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a single season.
So you must take into account Bush's body of work, and in my opinion he's fallen a bit short of expectations so far. To me a player of Bush's talent should have little problem gaining at least 1,500 yards rushing and receiving in his third season in the NFL. With McAllister returning (the Saints hope to previous form) and players like Aaron Stecker and Pierre Thomas to change the pace of the game, that should only help Bush.
So is this is breakout year? Bush recommitted himself to the offseason program and by all accounts is in great shape. He appears primed to improve his per-season yardage numbers by at least 250 yards, and if he does I think he'll improve his touchdown total and put himself in "breakout" territory. I think it has to happen this year or the Saints start re-thinking how they'll use Bush.
Do the Saints have enough running backs? That's what Katrinalore wants to know after a recent article that the Saints were courting Lamont Jordan:
(Are we) getting another running back? And Deuce (McAllister) is still too hurt to play the entire season? I'm kind of shocked now. Didn't Sean Payton and Drew Brees just say a while ago that he was doing great and despite one or two workouts he was fully participating? And didn't Sean Payton say they hired Olaniyi Sobomehin as a back up for Deuce? This article does not make me feel good. Any disagreements on this?
If last season taught us anything around the NFL it's that you can never have enough running backs. Jordan, if signed, would be a low-cost option and insurance for McAllister. The Saints, in my opinion, are just trying to make sure they're covered if McAllister isn't ready.
And let's not kid ourselves — Deuce McAllister is coming back from a serious injury. The Buccaneers are dealing with the same issue with their back, Carnell Williams. The Saints would love nothing more than for McAllister to be 100 percent when camp opens, but it may not happen. Williams may start the season on the physically unable to perform list. The same could be true for McAllister. We'll see next week. Everyone wants McAllister to succeed, but you can't count on it until you see it.
And, finally, the last question is on the secondary:
Word out of New Orleans is that rookie CB Tracy Porter made a good first impression during OTAs and has already passed second-year CB Usama Young on the depth chart. Jason David and Mike McKenzie, if he's recovered from a torn ACL suffered late last season, are the presumed starters at corner, but David could very well lose his job to Porter or nickel back Randall Gay if he doesn't show better field awareness and he continues to get beat deep. — KtoLV
There's very little doubt that David is on the hot seat after last season. But two things to keep in mind. First, Porter has done nothing more than work out in shorts and a helmet. He hasn't taken a hit yet, much less play a preseason game. So David's future should be judged after we've seen Porter play. Second, everyone in the secondary is going to get a shot at playing time. After last season's dismal performance, the Saints have no reason to promise any one in that unit playing time.
Until next time …
Matthew Postins is the publisher of saintsinsider.com.