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2013 NFL Preview/Review: The New Orleans Saints

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We take a look at the New Orleans Saints at the beginning of this offseason.

USA TODAY Sports

The obvious story line of for the Saints last season was the whole bounty thing. Without getting into it too much - since that's not really the focus of this article - I will say that Bountygate taught us one thing for sure: a stable and effective coaching staff is so fundamentally necessary for success in this league. Last year saw a playoff team stumble at numerous points during the season.

Now, to blame all of that on the coaching staff would be irresponsible. I think, to be honest, that this was a bit in the tea leaves, so to speak. Perhaps their fall from grace would not have been so bad, but the Saints sort of felt destined to have a rough go this last season. Part of that was the coaching staff, of course.

But, part of that had to have been the defense. In a way, the Saints team is the poster team for how the NFL has changed. It used to be that an explosive offense could carry a team to victory every game. Now, though, that really has to be coupled with a defense capable of keeping the opponents at bay.

I expect the Saints to look to fix defense this offseason. Like us, the team needs to upgrade the Secondary. Both Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins struggled in coverage this last season. This was particularly compounded by a lack of an elite pass rush specialist. Junior Galette and Martez Wilson aren't horrible options, but they could be upgraded. Really, though, this may all fall onto the shoulders of newly hired Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan. It will be up to him to get this defense back into check.

On the offensive side of the ball, look for the Saints to upgrade, at least, at the Tackles and possible bring in some TE depth.

Key Free Agents: C Brian De La Puente (RFA), RB Chris Ivory (RFA), and OT Jermon Bushrod.