I wrote about lessons we can take from the Super Bowl teams.
Stew will be the MLB. Spoon will be the WLB. SAM is up for grabs. I know many of you want Jordan back on the field. Spoon didn't make many plays on the weakside, but he also had really bad MLB play that affected him. Sean McDermott likes Spoon a lot. He expects big things from Will in 2010.
Spoon will get to spend the offseason really learning the defense. This year he had to learn on the fly. Next year he'll know the playbook inside-out. He'll get to go through mini-camps with his teammates. Same for Training Camp. Spoon can find a comfort level. Guys generally make plays for a couple of reasons. First, they are in the right place at the right time. Jordan had the ball come right to him on his INT vs the Panthers. Any player could have caught that ball. Second, players know exactly what it going on with the players around them, both offense and defense, and they can anticipate plays and get to the right spot.
I'll be shocked next January if Spoon has no INTs or FFs or sacks. He has proven to be a good playmaker for most of his career. One area where he did help us was in coverage. I don't think enough people give him credit for how well he did against TEs. Jordan struggled vs TEs. Remember how they ate us up early in the year? Akeem showed real potential this year, but he does need to get more consistent. I'd love to see him as a backup this year and as a starter in the future.
RE: Myron Rolle
We seem to prefer playmaking Safeties. Rolle I think had only 1 INT and 1 FF at FSU in 3 years as a starter. Smart. Big. Pretty good athlete. Talented. Those are good qualities. The lack of production doesn't make sense for a guy with his potential. You do wonder if he's committed to football or if his other interests, while noble, are a distraction. The Eagles will meet with him at the Combine to try and decide if this is a case of a guy who will be a much better pro than college player. Maybe McDermott will covet having a super smart guy back there to run the defense.
Andy can be every bit the gambler Sean Payton was in the SB. Andy went for it on 4th down inside his own 35 this year. Andy is the king of onside kicks. We used to run a good amount of fake FGs when Koy was the holder. We've done all kinds of aggressive, creative stuff.
Donovan vs Brees...not much to say. Donnie is streaky. If he had ever played really well in a SB we'd have won by 3 TDs. Brees is reliable. That is a big advantage for the Saints. No question about it.
The Saints had a great year. Before we hail them as the best team ever, though, let's examine the whole situation. 10, 7, 8, 13. Those are the win totals for Brees/Payton in New Orleans. This isn't a juggernaut organization that we all knew was going to finally break through and deliver. That's the way most people felt about the Colts in 2006. The Saints had a lot of stuff go right this year. How many INT-TDs did Darren Sharper have? How many unbelievable catches did Devery Henderson and Marques Colston make? And so on.
The Saints played great this year, but I do wonder if they can sustain this. I've been trying to think of a team that the Saints remind me of and no one is a great fit. The 1986 Giants are a bit similar. The coach and QB had been together for a few years. There was some success, but not a clear path that pointed to elite status. Parcells is a button-pusher. He finally got the right group of players and everything he did worked brilliantly. Payton is a Tuna protege, from their time together in Dallas. He also plays mind games with his players. You could say that he pushed the right buttons this year. Obviously the Giants had an elite defense and effective offense. The Saints are the opposite in that regard.
The Giants were good, but not special the next couple of years. They couldn't regain the magic of '86. They did go 12-4 in 1989 and then broke through and won another SB the following year. I won't be shocked to see the Saints dip down to 8 or 9 wins next year. Payton knows that complacency is their biggest enemy. He'll take steps to try and prevent that situation. You just don't know how the players will respond to what Sean does this time around. You also can't forget the NFC South curse. No team has repeated as Division champs since it was formed in 2002. Can the Saints even repeat as winners of the NFC-S?
I do think very highly of Brees and Payton. I know those guys will do everything in their power to keep the team playing great football.