METAIRIE, La. — The last time the Saints entered organized team activities with only football to talk about the team was coming off an 8-8 season.
In other words, for the first time in four years, members of the Saints aren’t talking about the Super Bowl, aren’t talking about the lockout, aren’t talking about bounties and aren’t talking about contract holdouts.
“Yeah, for awhile we did,” quarterback Drew Brees said when asked if he had forgotten what normal felt like. “Literally it has been four years since we’ve had a normal offseason. We’ve been looking forward to this for awhile.”
The parallels are remarkable to that 2009 offseason.
The Saints were coming off a lower-than-expectations season. They also were breaking in a new defensive coordinator, one with ties to the Buddy Ryan coaching tree. And there were several under-the-radar free agent pickups that ended up being integral parts to New Orleans’ eventual Super Bowl run.
This year, New Orleans is coming off of a 7-9 season that, while affected by the bounty penalties, was still worse than some expected.
The new defensive coordinator? Rob Ryan, son to Buddy Ryan and brother to Rex Ryan.
And New Orleans signed somewhat under-the-radar players in linebacker Victor Butler, cornerback Keenan Lewis and tight end Benjamin Watson.
But more than anything, just focusing on football and nothing else has made this offseason a bit more enjoyable for those donning the black and gold.
“This has been great,” Brees said. “Just getting back in this locker room back in mid-April and just focusing on getting better in the weight room and just being around the guys, just getting back to football – that’s what we do.”