No. 7 Jonathan Vilma
Prior to 2008, the Saints went looking in the bargain bin for a middle linebacker. They traded for Jonathan Vilma and a bargain is what they got. The Jets got a third-round and fourth-round pick while the Saints got a three-down linebacker keen on making big plays when big plays are needed.
Without Vilma, Gregg Williams’ aggressive and attacking 4-3 defense likely never get off the ground to become the force it was this season. Vilma was given the task of putting the defense in the right position on the field, to be the “quarterback of the defense.”
All he accomplished this season included two key interceptions in the latter half of the regular season – one against the Redskins, the other against the Falcons. Both helped keep the Saints undefeated at the time.
While he has a penchant for overplaying plays, he still led the team in tackles during the regular season with 130. His eight passes defensed were third-best on the team, surpassed only by two defensive backs. His seven tackles for a loss led the team.