Nov 27, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (98) rushes against Los Angeles Rams guard Rodger Saffold (76) during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
#1. BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
Our friends on Tuesday evening’s UNDER THE DOME PODCAST featuring Sean Williams and Allen Ulrich (seen at the beginning of this article) outlined some similarities between this year’s Saints team and the 2008 unit.
This of course, was the year before New Orleans won Super Bowl 44.
The 2008 Saints finished 8-8, in a year littered with key injuries, “oh so close” losses, with young team that felt like they were just a few key pieces away from contending.
They sat with a record of 4-4 at the season’s halfway point, and finished the final quarter at 2-2 in an unsuccessful run for the postseason.
Sean Payton’s 2008 team played in NINE games that were decided by five points or less, losing 6 of them. They were widely looked at as a team you ‘did not want to face’ heading down the stretch.
The 2016 Saints have played NINE games decided by less than a touchdown; losing 6 of those contests. It has truly been a season full of “what if’s” and perhaps just a few missing pieces on this roster, but it has also been a year full of promise.
For perhaps the first time since those 2008-09 seasons, the team has a clear direction — and it’s pointed UP and FORWARD.
The dysfunction of 2014 has been purged, and Payton along with Micky Loomis and Jeff Ireland are hopefully putting together a contending team through draft and better free agent decisions.
Now it is up to the players they have put on the field to make progress towards that goal.