Ok, on to the Saints. New Orleans heads to Pittsburgh, having beating the Tampa Bay on the road this past Sunday, 31-14. The Saints' feel good story kicked off at the reopening of the Super Dome in New Orleans on Monday Night Football against the Falcons, and has continued on since then in fine fashion. The Saints stand at 6-2, and sport one of the better passing attacks in the NFL.
The Saints had a pretty major overhaul this past offseason. I believe nearly half of their 53-man roster is new. That's pretty remarkable if you think about it. Head Coach Sean Payton and the Saints management deserve a lot of credit for having the courage to completely scrap things. It takes more than that though to build a winner. It also takes an acute understanding of personnel and how to make individual pieces fit within offensive and defensive systems.
The biggest acquisition for New Orleans this offseason was Drew Brees and the stability he brought to the quarterback position. You know what you're going to get from him every game: smart decisions, precise throws, and the ability to keep defenses off-balance by distributing the ball to all available pass catchers. 14 different Saints have caught a ball this year. Brees is currently 4th in passing yards, 6th in TDs, and 6th in passer rating.
Brees' favorite target has become Marques Colston, the unheralded rookie out of Hofstra. Colston has exploded of late, with back-to-back 100+ yard receiving days and 3 TDs in his last two outings. Colston has the big 6'4" 220 lb frame that the NFL is so in love with these days, but it's his route-running and great hands that have helped him excel so quickly in his career. Colston got his shot this year because he supposedly didn't drop a pass all mini-camp.
I think we may see another shoot-out this Sunday unfortunately. Gone are the days of 17-7 grind-it-out wins for the Steelers it seems. The New Orleans defense can be scored on, but if our pass defense doesn't improve drastically this week, they too will put up a healthy number on the scoreboard. I'll take a closer look at the defense this afternoon.