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Five Storylines for the 2013 New Orleans Saints

The Saints will provide Who Dat Nation with a great deal of storylines, and here are five important questions to answer about the team in 2013.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone who follows the New Orleans Saints is anxious to see where the team will start and finish this season. There was so much uncertainty last season and beginning this offseason, doctors in the bayou were practically willing to make Xanax available over the counter in mass quantities.

Sean Payton was suspended and returned following the Super Bowl. The defense had an historically dismal season by any standard in the NFL. Drew Brees had an historically fantastic and record-breaking season by any standard in the NFL. An array of key position players were free agents, and others on shaky ground were either going to restructure or hit the road.

We've seen how free agency and the draft have played out thus far, and now how will these, and other decisions, affect the regular season? The speculation shall commence with these Five Questions to Answer About the 2013 New Orleans Saints. Feel free to add your own to this list as you wish. These are the "Dog Days" of the offseason, so we've got plenty of time to spend on this.

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1.) How will the Saints' defense shake out? The team's new Defensive Coordinator in former Dallas Cowboys DC Rob Ryan is the obvious starting point. He provides what some Saints players describe as the same swagger former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams provided. Ryan wasn't considered very successful during his 2011 and 2012 with the Cowboys. He provided the attitude, but injuries subdued his 2012 season at the mid-point. Whether that can be used as an excuse for a middle-of-the-road defense will be decided in his time with the Saints. Add to that an arguably significant loss of Victor Butler, a Dallas spinoff outside linebacker. He was lost for the season due to an ACL tear this offseason, and was considered to be a huge part in the pass rush. Can Martez Wilson, Junior Galette, or even Will Smith take over?

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2.) What will the Saints wide receiving corps look like and how will they perform? There is no shortage of young talent on the team this year that shows tantalizing promise. Forget the likes of Marques Colston and Lance Moore. We know what to expect from them. Has, however, the loss of Devery Henderson left the Saints in a glitch? Time will tell. Joe Morgan, the deep threat who caught 10 passes for 379 yards (37.9 yard average) and 3 touchdowns now has a chance to step up into the 3rd wide out spot, and it seems he has the talent to do so. With a class of candidates such as newly-drafted Kenny Stills from Oklahoma, Nick Toon, and Andy Tanner, the Young Guns have a chance to succeed and prove themselves. When you are catching passes from Drew Brees, you must make the very best impression.

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3.) How does the return of Sean Payton REALLY help the Saints? It's no surprise the Saints missed their head coach last season. Even though we all love Joe Vitt and his hard nosed approach to coaching and love of the game (at least I do), did Sean Payton being MIA have as huge an effect on the Saints as most believe? If we go from 7-9 to a Super Bowl run or even a Divisional Championship, I will bow at his feet. Even to improve to a winning record and 2 wins over the Falcons, makes me a believer. I still remember my reaction to an onside kick to start the second half of Super Bowl XLIV against the Indianapolis Colts. I was stunned a coach would call this play. Coach Payton made me believe.

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4.) Who is the best option to back up Drew Brees this season, should the worst happen? (knock on wood) We have choices to consider this season but I, for one, would love Drew Brees to stay upright this entire season as he has done so well throughout his Saints career. In the case that can't happen, who can we trust the most amongst Seneca Wallace, Luke McCown (don't, just don't...), or Ryan Griffin? Or is there another choice out there who will appear?

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5.) What impact will the Saints top draft choices make? Consensus top safety Kenny Vaccaro was the first pick in the draft while the team bypassed a pass-rush specialist. This riled up the masses in a lot of different ways. The Saints then went developmental OT and DT after a bit of wheeling and dealing in the third round, which also riled some people up. While many said they couldn't understand their selections, I believe this is how a first-rate team is built.