Opinion: Saints have a better chance than most to repeat

Published 12:05 pm Thursday, August 12, 2010

Can the New Orleans Saints repeat last year’s magic Super Bowl title?

It’s a question posed from Bourbon Street to the docks of Port LaFourche, from Mobile Bay to downtown Vicksburg.

While history frowns upon it, the feat isn’t exactly impossible. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were the last team to do it in 2003 and 2004. Four others managed to repeat since the league went to a 16-game regular season schedule in 1978.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Most teams that win the Super Bowl are gutted by free agency like a freshly caught catfish ready for eating.

But the Saints bucked that trend.

The Saints lost only linebacker Scott Fujita to the Cleveland Browns. Everyone else from last year’s team is back.

The keys are simple. Keep Drew Brees healthy. Have the defense force a bucketload of turnovers like last season.

Brees is on the cover of “Madden 11” this year, a moment that when it was announced gave Saints fans the willies. Gracing the cover of the game usually doesn’t end well for the player. Examples of the “Madden jinx” include Shaun Alexander, who was coming off an MVP season for the Seattle Seahawks, and Michael Vick. Alexander was the 2007 cover man and broke his foot midway through that season, never returning to form. Vick graced the 2004 cover and broke his leg in a preseason game. Even Brett Favre, who graced the 2009 cover, got bit by the jinx as he tore his biceps late in the year after being traded to the New York Jets.

But the Saints return their entire offensive line and Brees, after his shoulder surgery in 2006 to repair a torn labrum, has been unbelievably durable. So if anyone breaks the curse, it’ll be Brees.

As for the defense, Darren Sharper’s addition at safety and new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams were the main reasons why the unit improved into a ballhawking and pass-rushing machine. With both back, expect the trend to continue. Williams is the evil genius defensive counterpart of head coach Sean Payton, who took a paycut to get Williams to New Orleans before the season.

The Saints forced 15 fumbles and picked off 26 passes, putting them in the top three in the league in takeaways.

Another area that helps the Saints is the overall weakness of the NFC South Division. Only the archrival Atlanta Falcons present a true threat. With Carolina and Tampa Bay mired in rebuilding years, it will be a two-team race.

The Saints aren’t perfect, but in the NFL, who is?

The Saints were near the bottom of the league against the run, yielding 4.5 yards per carry. They have a propensity to give up the big play, especially in the ground game.

But if they get just a little stouter against the run and still rank in the tops of the NFL in total offense and takeaways, expect another Lombardi Trophy celebration on Bourbon Street this winter.

Steve Wilson is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. You can follow him on Twitter at vpsportseditor. He can be reached at 601-636-4545, ext. 142 or at swilson@vicksburgpost.com.