The New Orleans Saints are feeling pretty good about themselves these days.
The bounty scandal seems like a distant (albeit still bitter) memory. Sean Payton is back coaching, an advantage that can't be understated. Rob Ryan has been brought aboard to fix a porous defense. The stars seem aligned for a quick turnaround.
During a Friday appearance on NFL Network's "NFL AM," quarterback Drew Brees explained how pleasant it's been to enjoy a quiet offseason.
"It's all about football, and that's the way we like it," he said. "This is really the first normal offseason we've had in four years. Going from that offseason after Super Bowl, which was a crazy offseason, and right into the lockout the next offseason, and last year with the bounty and the contract and with everything else.
"Really, this is the first normal offseason we've had since '09, and that ended up being a pretty good year for us, so hopefully there's some foresight in there."
The Saints averaged 12 wins per season in the three years before the bounty scandal turned their organization upside down. We're not convinced the defense is fixed -- and the loss of Victor Butler won't help matters -- but they're certainly in better position than they were a year ago.
Optimism is back in the Big Easy.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.