Just like we've been doing each week, and will continue to do each week of the season as well, I answered 5 questions for Canal Street Chronicles about the upcoming Chargers/Saints preseason game and Dave Cariello was nice enough to answer 5 of my questions about the 2010 New Orleans Saints. Thanks go to Dave for the time and the info.
1. What are the biggest differences between the 2009 Super Bowl Champions and the 2010 New Orleans Saints?
A shiny ring and a brand new banner to hang in the Superdome. Next question. Seriously though there has been very little to no turnover with the coaching staff and on the roster. Much less than one would expect after a Super Bowl-winning season but thanks to this off-season's new CBA rules, it was much easier to keep the team intact. That being the case, I expect a similar product to last years team, if not better and with more experience.
2. What is the biggest position(s) of concern for the Saints this offseason?
It's quickly starting to become backup running back. The Saints have already placed two backs on Injured Reserve and depth in the backfield is getting thin. Other than that I would nominate the entire Saints special teams unit for their poor kick coverage and mediocre tackling. I think most fans would agree that's what needs to be cleaned up most before the regular season begins on September 9th.
3. Are you satisfied with the NO secondary currently? Why or why not?
Absolutely. Did you watch the playoffs? It's actually amazing how quickly the unit transformed from 2008 to 2009. Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer could be one of the best cornerback tandems in the league. Last years first-round pick, Malcolm Jenkins, is looking good in his transition to safety and the Saints again used their first-round choice this year on another cornerback, Patrick Robinson. Assuming they both develop as expected, the Saints should be set in the secondary for a while.
4- What aspect of the Chargers game could give the Saints the most problems?
I mentioned earlier that the Saints have had some special teams woes. So far this pre-season the team has given up a ton of kickoff return yardage. Naturally, the thought of Darren Sproles back there returning kicks scares the hell out of me. A lot of fans will be watching to see how well the Saints will be able to contain kick returners. If the past is any indication, it wouldn't surprise me to see Sproles take one to the house.
5- Who are the key Saints players for us to look out for on Saturday?
Being the third pre-season game, the starters should get about three quarters of action so I will choose a player from the first team. And you might not believe this but I am going to go with Reggie Bush. Since the end of last season he has cut back on his "dancing" and looked much better with his between the tackles, north-south running. Combined with his threat as a receiver and he is electric. Four years later and this is the first time since he was first drafted in 2006 that I am really excited to see what he will do this season.
When the backups come in late in the game, you should keep your eye on wide receiver Adrian Arrington. In two games this pre-season Arrington has seven catches for 158 yards, averaging 22.5 yards per catch which is highest across the league.