Veteran Subtractions: OT Jermon Bushrod, RB Chris Ivory, WR Devery Henderson, QB Chase Daniel, TE David Thomas, CB Elbert Mack, DE Turk McBride, OLB Jonathan Casillas, DT Sedrick Ellis, OLB Scott Shanle, CB Johnny Patrick.
Strengths: Whenever I get mad at Bruce Bochy, the manager for the Giants, I try to take comfort in the fact that smart people, who understand baseball more than I, have argued that the manager does not have that much of an impact on the overall success of the season. The same cannot, clearly, be said about football. I am sorely tempted to add "Sean Payton" to the Veteran Additions list. His absence severely hampered the Saints last season; his return should, therefore, help this team reach its former level of success.
The real strength of this team, though, remains its offense. To be frank, any offense with Drew Brees on it will likely be good. But, the surrounding cast on this team takes it to the next level. Jimmy Graham will be playing without a pesky wrist injury. He will be joined by Marques Colston and Lance Moore. They should be joined by DUI-troubled Joe Morgan.
Weaknesses: The offense does have a couple areas of weakness, though. First off, the backfield is not a very traditional stable of RBs, though the Saints don't seem to mind. Darren Sproles is more a receiver than a RB. He's not a weakness by any means -- but he doesn't bring traditional RB skills. And that's the issue with the Saints' backfield. With the loss of Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas will try to step up as rushers. Thomas is not a bad option (but not great) and Ingram is injury-city. The Saints are hoping that his recent good health will continue through the season, lest he be labeled with the ever-dreaded "bust" moniker.
The Saints also have some questions at LT. Current frontrunner for the position, Charles Brown, is often injured. He might be pushed by rookie Terron Armstead.
The real weakness of last year's unit was the defense, however. I hesitate to write too much about their problems for this season, though, because they are switching over to a 3-4 defense, so we ought to give them a chance to adjust. Perhaps the new alignment will prove beneficial. I will say, however, that the Saints suffer from the vicious circle that is "poor pass rush leads to a poor secondary." The Saints added Victor Butler for more pass rush, only for him to tear his ACL. Other options at pass rush are Will Smith (not of Independence Day fame), Martez Wilson, and Junior Galette. They will be joined by Cameron Jordan (who had 8 sacks last season) and Akiem Hicks on the outside as DEs.
In an attempt to upgrade their secondary, the Saints added Kenny Vaccaro in the draft. He should replace Roman Harper, starting alongside Malcolm Jenkins. The other secondary addition was Keenan Lewis, formerly of the Steelers.