We’ve hit the home stretch of the offseason with precious little time remaining for players and coaches to get their non-football lives in order. The first practice for the 2013 season is Friday.
WWLTV.com will take a look at 10 questions for New Orleans entering training camp and the season. They’re in no particular order, just numbered.
We’d love to get your thoughts on each day’s topic. Leave your comment below or on the station’s Facebook page to further the discussion
Which is the critical game on the '13 schedule?
Can Will Smith make the transition from DE to OLB?
Can Jonathan Vilma return to form?
Who will step at WR behind Colston, Moore, Morgan?
Who has the best shot of being this year’s breakout star?
What happens at left tackle?
Will the Drew Brees of ‘09/’11 return or the ‘10/’12 Brees?
No. 3: How much will having no offseason distractions help?
This probably goes without saying, but the answer is a lot.
Sorry, that’s A LOT.
No constant bickering in the open with the league about what the NFL office described as a three-year bounty program. No high-profile holdout by a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
No coaching changes and no lawsuits.
Straight up no media circus surrounding the organization and its members.
The players can say what they want – and partially because they live in a “no excuse” bubble they can’t – but they’re human and everything that happened last season off-the-field affected them on it.
Last season’s version of the Saints looked as out of whack as we’ve seen since this regime took over in 2006, mirroring at the very least the disappointing 2007 season.
But last year, New Orleans never appeared like the juggernaut it had been since 2009, when it started a 37-11 regular season run of spectacular football.
This year, the only thing wild about the offseason was that for the first time since before the 2009 season there wasn’t anything going on off the field other than replacing the defensive coordinator.
Coach Sean Payton returned in January, putting that story way before it could prove to be a true distraction. Rob Ryan, the new defensive coordinator, spoke early during organized team activities, getting that storyline out of the way. And Brees isn’t holding out, having signed a then-record contract for an NFL quarterback.
This offseason has been all about football and nothing else. And that should help the team out when it comes to what happens on the field beginning in the season opener against Atlanta on Sept. 8.