I'm going to put this out there on Front Street (or maybe Canal Street) for all of you Saints fans: Last year wasn't good. Although, this probably isn't breaking news to many of you. I'm sure many of the locals who hang out at St. Lawrence on North Peters Street have long lamented the fact the team couldn't get to the magical eight-win mark this season. (Well, that and the fact that Morten Andersen isn't in the Hall of Fame. My friend Pat Power has flooded my Facebook timeline with that. And while he's right, we can get to that at some other point.)
To make it worse, the Saints dropped their last five home games, which would have put them into the playoffs. How is that possible? If you told me you needed to go 1-4 in your last five home games, I would have liked those odds.
But it's not that bad. I mean, you could have been the Atlanta Falcons, who piped in crowd noise to get some sort of home-field advantage. Seriously, were the Falcons channeling the old WCW of the mid-1990s when they piped in "Goldberg" chants? So, if nothing else Saints fans, you can take solace in the fact that you're not the Atlanta Falcons right now. Or the Cleveland Browns, who also finished 7-9. Seriously, would you want to be in Cleveland's spot right now?
So, while we look for reasons for Saints fans to be optimistic in the face of the 2015 season, I suggest we go with the most obvious. You live in New Orleans. And that is awesome. What an amazing city. But I don't think that's what we want to talk about here. The most obvious on-the-field reason, however, is Drew Brees. There's simply no denying that.
If you want to compare the Saints to the aforementioned Browns, the difference is Brees. You are practically guaranteed 5,000 passing yards and a top-10 offense next year. That's just science. And you have to believe there is no way a team with Brees at quarterback won't win at least eight games next year.
And while you might want to point out that the Saints have finished 7-9 in two of the past three years, please note this is the first time Brees has won just seven games with Sean Payton as his head coach since 2007. So, yes, this is science.
Options on offense
And Brees will have some pretty good options returning, too. Jimmy Graham will benefit from a full offseason of rest to be stronger than ever. Brandin Cooks was on his way to being a huge part of this rookie receiving class. Trust me, I spent a lot of time watching him at Oregon State and this dude is going to be great. He was leading the team with 53 receptions before the thumb injury. Credit Payton for not only using him as a deep threat, but also getting him into that short passing game, too. I'm excited for him next year.
And defensively? Well, this was supposed to be reasons for being excited next year, right? But seriously, I'm not too concerned. There are a couple of free agents out there who could immediately help the team. And before you say, "We are in salary cap hell," remember everybody said the same thing last year and Jairus Byrd was signed like seven seconds into free agency.