Earlier this week, the espn.com NFC South blogger Pat Yasinksas (or as the great enunciator Bobby Hebert calls him, "Pat Yasinsky"), spent some time at the Saints Training Camp, and today he posted this piece on the Saints as part of his Camp Confidential series.
Not much new here that many of us don't already know, and I think Yasinskas has a bit more insight than your typical national media member. The article includes links to the Panthers and Falcons Camp Confidential stories (the Buccaneers one hasn't been posted yet) that you may be interested in reading, as well as a link to espn.com's NFL Training Camp page.
Make the jump for my personal highlights of his story...
Yasinskas quotes much "Vilma-talk" in his opening, including this bold assertion:
"It's really very, very simple,'' the middle linebacker for the New Orleans Saints said. "If we want to get back to being the Super Bowl champions, we have to play defense the way we played it in 2009, not the way we did in 2010. We have to go out there and start making turnovers happen again.''
Vilma continues and expands on this here...
"Look, we still had [quarterback] Drew Brees and all sorts of weapons on the other side of the ball,'' Vilma said. "Last year's problem wasn't our offense. It was our defense. We just didn't make things happen the way we did in 2009. We played well at times, but we also left a lot of big plays on the field because, for whatever reason, we just didn't make the same plays we did the year before.''
I find this to be an interesting point, as I have always believed that for the most part (aside from the horrendous showing by the defense vs. Seattle in January), that it was the offense's shortcomings and inconsistencies that were more to blame for the 2010 dropoff than the lack of turnovers (to his credit, Pat Y gets in to this a bit later in the article). More takeaways would have helped the Saints win more, of course, but I just think the offense's lack of an effective running game, increased INTs, and lower scoring output had more to do with it than the lack of turnovers. (This would be a great point of discussion for the comment area.)
Pat then addresses these Three Hot Issues (I have only included his main idea response for each in the quote box):
1. Can the defense really get back to 2009 form? Yes, it's very possible.
2. Is the defense really to blame for last year? Not quite as much as Vilma claims.
3. How will the Saints use their running backs? Whether you loved him or not, Reggie Bush is gone, and that's going to have an impact.
There's more detail/rationale that you can find in the article itself, so definitely check it out.
Yasinskas names Will Herring as his Biggest Surprise, and Tracy Porter as his Biggest Disappointment of camp so far, and he also highlights Robert Meachem, Shaun Rogers, Alex Barron, Thomas Morstead, and the linebackers in a bullet point section.
He stops short of making a "List-Worthy" prediction or even a weaseling and waffling "possible outlook" statement, so you'll have to write your own based on what he covered in the story.
In fact, that's what I'd love to see you provide in the comment section - write what you think Yasinskas would have written as a concluding paragraph or wrap-up prediction. Go!
What do you think was the most significant reason for the Saints dropoff in performance from 2009 to 2010?
Lack of takeaways by the defense. (65 votes)
Ineffective running game. (277 votes)
Not enough running the ball. (31 votes)
More INTs by the offense. (49 votes)
Less scoring. (Duh.) (11 votes)
Other/some combination of the above. (133 votes)
566 total votes