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Sean Payton: Saints need strong RBs and defense

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When the Saints traded All-Pro tight Jimmy Graham and invested heavily in the running game last month, we suggested they were taking on a new identity in 2015.

Coach Sean Payton conceded Wednesday that the Saints will lean on the ground attack, but resisted the idea of a change in philosophy.

"I think if you're looking closely to when we've been really good," Payton told KRLA-AM, "there's been that element defensively, there's been that element in the running game."

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Payton is absolutely correct.

As we pointed out immediately after the C.J. Spiller signing, Payton's best offenses feature smash-mouth runners such as Deuce McAllister, Mike Bell or Pierre Thomas complemented by a Reggie Bush-style scatback.

His best teams from 2009-2011 and again in 2013 featured opportunistic defenses specializing in forcing turnovers.

"I've been asked this," Payton continued, "Are you philosophically changing what you do offensively? I wouldn't say that."

Payton explained the Graham trade as simply an opportunity to "correct more than just one position" when faced with a salary-cap crunch after a disappointing 2014 season.

The Saints' next step toward owner Tom Benson's goal of reaching another Super Bowl?

"It's going to be important for us defensively in this draft," Payton explained, "to bring in key guys that we feel like can help us play right away."

With five selections in the first 80 picks of the draft, the Saints have plenty of lottery tickets to cash in on defense.

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