METAIRIE, LA. - JULY 28: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) runs through a drill with running back Alvin Kamara (41) during New Orleans Saints training camp practice on July 28, 2018 at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The 2017 season ended in heartbreak for the New Orleans Saints. The club based out of the Big Easy was just a few mere seconds away from a date in the NFC championship game in Philadelphia. However, a miracle in Minneapolis was performed when Case Keenum hit Stefon Diggs for a walk-off touchdown. In fact, it took that miracle to end the Saints magical season but walking into 2018, the New Orleans Saints are marching on.

The New Orleans Saints Are Marching On

The Defense

Last year’s campaign for New Orleans was a successful one compared to 3 years previous. The Saints finished 7-9 all three seasons from 2014-2016 while having one of the best offenses in the league. It was obvious what was limiting the Saints from getting back to the playoffs. The pass defense during those three seasons was atrocious, to say the least.

However, after drafting rookie standouts Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams, the pass defense was vastly improved. Lattimore became the starting corner immediately and didn’t give up a single touchdown all season long. Proving he is a true lockdown corner in this league, Lattimore went on to win defensive rookie of the year. Meanwhile, Williams finished with four interceptions at the safety position. Even though these two played exceptional football, the star on defense was edge rusher Cameron Jordan who had his best season in the league to date. Jordan finished with 62 tackles and a career-best 13 sacks. This defense was a true threat to any opponent week in and week out.

The Offense

If it’s not broke don’t change it. This is a famous saying that can be related to the Saints offense led by Sean Payton and future hall of famer Drew Brees. Once again, Brees topped 4,000 yards on the season for a record-setting 11th straight year and finished with 23 touchdowns while having only 8 of his passes picked off. Brees was his normal self and continues to defy any restrictions that come with being almost 40 years old. As I said earlier, the defense helped the Saints in a big way. However, the running game this past season took so much pressure off of Brees and made the offense truly balanced for the first time in years. Mark Ingram and offensive rookie of the year Alvin Kamara became the first duo to reach 1,500 yards from scrimmage in the history of the National Football League. Second-year wideout Michael Thomas topped 1,000 yards again and set the record for most passes caught in their first two seasons in the NFL. Thomas went on to be the first receiver in the Brees-Payton era to be selected to play in the Pro Bowl at the end of the season.

It was truly a magical season that was filled with records set by a fantastic team. Kamara and Lattimore went on to be the first players on the same team to sweep rookie of the year honors since 1967. The Saints went on to finish 11-5 and win the extremely competitive NFC South. Division rivals Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers both made the playoffs, but could not top the New Orleans Saints.

2018 Season Outlook

Even though it was a special season, no one should be looking in the rearview mirror. The Saints have loaded up over the offseason through free agency and the draft. Free agents Demario Davis, Cameron Meredith, and Patrick Robinson all agreed to deals to improve a team that was already destined for greatness again this season. New Orleans also drafted edge rusher Marcus Davenport in the first round to pair with Cam Jordan. That duo could be a nightmare for every offense they face this season. With a Hall of Fame quarterback surrounded by young, talented players, the Saints have a great shot of lifting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season in the home of their biggest rival – Atlanta Falcons.

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