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Do the Saints Still Scare Anyone?

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After a cameo appearance in the postseason in 2013, the Saints have gone 7-9 in consecutive seasons. Not dreadful, yet woefully mediocre. It would seem that the team that used to be a bully in the NFC South just a few years ago doesn’t really strike fear in the hearts of its opponents anymore.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

To conclude our pre-training camp NFC South Roundtable, along with my colleagues from our division rival blogs, let’s tackle the mighty New Orleans Saints. Ahem, ok, more like the meek-and-forgiving New Orleans Saints. Our beloved Black and Gold have now gone 7-9 the last two seasons, after a cameo appearance in the postseason in 2013. When you think about it, 7-9 is the absolute worst thing that can happen to an NFL team. You aren’t so bad that the fans and front office would demand a complete overhaul of the team or an outright house cleaning. Yet you’re not even close to being good enough to compete for any kind of title. That’s where the Saints find themselves today in the NFL, inside the ultimate "friend zone."

Equally frustrating is the perception of the team’s leader and face of the franchise, quarterback Drew Brees. The Saints’ quarterback seems to have entered the same dreaded zone as has his team: "Sure, he’s still good, but eeeeh not that good anymore; at least not enough to scare anyone anymore." That in a nutshell is what I’ve been hearing this offseason about the Saints and their future Hall-of-Famer of a quarterback.

So I wanted to ask NFC South bloggers Jeanna Thomas, Brian Beversluis and Sander Philipse what they thought about that. Here’s my question to them:

JR: There was a period of time, not too long ago, when Drew Brees and the Saints were considered the team to beat in the NFC South. After back-to-back 7-9 no-playoffs seasons, what do you and your fanbases think of Brees? Listening to the pundits and even a part of the Saints' fanbase, he's either done or close to it. Does he still strike fear in your birdies, kitties or pirates hearts? Or do you now almost welcome the matchup with the Saints?

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Jeanna Thomas - The Falcoholic: Drew Brees has been one of the best quarterbacks in this league for a long time, and if the Falcons had an effective pass rush, I might be a little less concerned about him. Alas, the pass rush has been a weakness for Atlanta for several seasons, so yeah; Brees still scares me a little. I do think he's probably slowing down a bit, but he's really accurate and makes very good decisions with the football, so he's always a factor, particularly if he has adequate protection.

The Saints defense has really been the problem for the past few seasons, so I think as long as the defense improves and the offense is able to keep Brees upright, the Saints are going to be a challenge. Ugh, it feels so gross to say that. Also, much to my chagrin, the Saints got a great target for Brees in rookie Michael Thomas out of The Ohio State University. That should help, whether I like it or not. (I don't.)

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Brian Beversluis - Cat Scratch Reader: I think generally our fan base understands that the defense has been the issue for the Saints. The Panthers have still had major issues with the Saints in the last three years, splitting 2013 and 2014, and very easily could have dropped a game last season were it not for Josh Norman in the first game and a game winning drive that ended a shootout in the second game. Brees will always be a player that Panthers fans respect, whether they despise him or not.

My personal view point is Brees can win really any game despite the matchup, and his struggles against Carolina have mainly stemmed from either the pass rush wreaking havoc or the offense blowing the doors off the Saints defense. I'm not sure how worth it he is with the price tag he will likely carry, but I still believe Brees is one of the best out there.

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Sander Philipse - Bucs Nation: Drew Brees is certainly still a fearsome quarterback. While the slow decline has been evident, I think most fans lay the blame of recent losses at the feet of the defense and Brees' supporting cast. That seems perfectly fair to me, as Brees is still close to the quarterback he was when the Saints won the Super Bowl. The team as a whole is just a lot worse, and it hasn't been helped by the constant upheaval in personnel. Brees can still destroy defenses when he has a good day, though I think he's gotten a little more turnover-prone and skittish in the face of pressure.

Of course, there will be a point when the Saints have to move on from him. I hope that point comes sooner rather than later, and the Saints' constant cap juggling gives me some hope that that may be the case. The fact that I'm hoping he'll move on should say enough about how good I still think he is, at least for the immediate future.

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And there it is, the conclusion of our first NFC South Roundtable of this NFL offseason’s summer. More to come soon. Many thanks to Jeanna Thomas, Sander Philipse and Brian Beversluis for graciously giving their time to ask and answer these questions.

So what do you think? Are the Saints still a "scary" team to play or is that now a thing of the past?