Win Now, The Song Of The NFC South

March 15th, 2017


Don’t sleep on the Saints.

“The puzzle’s beginning to come together, and I think we’re all very excited about that,” Drew Brees said in an interview with WWL radio in New Orleans.

While Carolina and Atlanta took turns representing the NFC in the past two Super Bowls, New Orleans has been treading water on Canal Street. The addition of DeSean Jackson has caught the attention of Tampa Bay’s rivals in the NFC South and the Saints have been showing signs they are serious about competing for the division title.

At first glance, the departure of Brandin Cooks robs Brees of a prime target, but do you really believe he can’t make do with Michael Thomas, Willie Snead and free-agent addition Ted Ginn Jr.?

As any Buc fan can attest, Brees makes everyone around him look dangerous. That’s what Hall of Fame quarterbacks do, and Brees will waltz into Canton five years after his retirement.

At the age of 38, Brees sees the finish line on a remarkable career — and so does Sean Payton. That’s why the Saints are in an aggressive mode during this short window.

After three consecutive 7-9 seasons, the gumbo needs serious stirring in New Orleans, so the Saints are getting busy. They have already re-signed defensive tackle Nick Fairley and added Ginn, linebacker A.J. Klein, guard Larry Warford and pass rusher Alex Okafor.

Now they are looking at Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, a restricted free agent who was tendered at a first-round level. Unless the Saints can work out an alternate deal with New England, signing Butler to an offer sheet could end up costing New Orleans the 11th pick in the draft.

That sounds like a lot, but Butler is only 27 and he’s a heck of a player. If the Saints team him with corner Delvin Breaux and safety Kenny Vaccaro, they would have the makings of a stout young secondary.

Matching Tampa

That’s more critical than ever now that the Bucs have secured a speedy downfield complement to Mike Evans. Don’t think the addition of Jackson hasn’t raised concern in Atlanta, Charlotte and New Orleans.

The Saints are going to score their points — they always do. Last year, they ranked first in total yards and No. 2 in scoring offense.

They scored 55 offensive touchdowns, compared to 37 for the Bucs. Although Cooks will now be catching passes from Tom Brady, don’t fret about Brees.

“I think Ted Ginn has played some of his best football over the last two years when he made his way back to Carolina the second time,” Brees said. “He’s been a big part of their offense. He’s made a bunch of explosive plays. I think more impressive than that though, he’s always been a fast guy, but he’s become a very polished receiver in a lot of ways.”

Brees is tired of trying to win shootouts every week. New Orleans lost four games last season by three points or less and the Bucs were the only team to hold the Saints under 16 points, winning 16-11 at Raymond James Stadium.

The Dagger

But two weeks later, in a game the Bucs simply had to win, Brees was masterful in a 31-24 triumph at the Superdome that effectively ended Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes.

Even if the Saints land Butler, they won’t close the gap on Tampa Bay unless they find a pass rusher to help Cameron Jordan. New Orleans posted only 30 sacks and 9 interceptions last year (the Bucs had 17) … and those two numbers go hand in hand.

“I think we’re just a few pieces away,” Brees said.

Maybe the Saints pass on Butler and try to find an edge rusher with the 11th overall pick. Maybe New Orleans can find a way to package the No. 32 choice with another pick or two and finalize a deal with Bill Belichick for Butler.

Either way, the Saints still must address an anemic pass rush. And that weakness just became even more glaring with the specter of Jameis Winston , under little duress, looking for Evans, Jackson, Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate.

The Saints are also desperate to rediscover their mojo at home, where they are 11-13 in the past three seasons. In the six previous years, New Orleans boasted a 37-11 record at the Superdome.

The Bucs currently have better personnel than New Orleans, but the Saints will be dangerous as long as Brees is stepping up in that well-protected pocket. Like Tampa Bay, this is a franchise in win-now mode.

Brees can’t go on forever, and he deserves another shot at the brass ring. It’s starting to look like the Saints are serious about shedding that Big Easy label they’ve earned for the past three years.

16 Responses to “Win Now, The Song Of The NFC South”

  1. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I’ll believe the Saints have a good D when I see it. They’ve been making a lot of moves there the last couple years but it still hasn’t panned out and I’m just wondering if it’s coaching at this point.

    I’d laugh my a5s off if they trade the #11 pick for Butler. They’d have essentially traded Cooks and the #11 pick for Butler and the #32 pick. The cost to move from 32 to 11 is freaking crazy in terms of draft picks. If they have to pay more than pick 32 for Butler then it’s a dumb move.

    I also think Cooks is more valuable than Butler. Dude was a top 7 WR last year in most all stats despite not being targeted like a top 7 WR. Malcom butler is solid but he is not some all-pro shut down CB and has been playing for a team that always seems to get good play out of its corners

  2. DBrad67 Says:

    I care nothing about our rivals nor their shortcomings so don’t cry me a river
    Because when they’re winning and they’re beating us I don’t hear any crying for us…But this is just a classic case for a premature cover for those talentless
    Teams to be able to say that they had shortcomings when we put a foot in that ASS!!! Because if you don’t know we carry a BIG MOTHER ******* STICK!!!!

  3. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    So glad Cooks gone man. I’m sorry that move made defending that offense a tad bit easier.

  4. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    I don’t get this “win now” stuff. I do concede that occasionally a team becomes so destroyed that it needs a year or two to rebuild.

    But on the whole…shouldn’t EVERY year be a “win now” year? I’ve wanted to win every year in the past decade. Obviously I’ve been disappointed and I might be again but it’s time to shoot for Minneapolis…not just more improvement.

    Last year I expected playoffs and would have accepted one and done in the playoffs. That’s now over. It’s time for Minneapolis or bust. As long as we have #3 healthy we should have that attitude EVERY year going forward.

  5. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    There are a lot of teams that know they aren’t close to winning now. The Bucs were in that same position when they had Glennon and McCown under center. For many teams having a lack of talent at that all important position means they don’t have any real chance. If you combine that with a lot of other areas of concern then teams can most certainly know they are bad and need to be build for the future rather then now.

  6. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    Don’t disagree at all. What you’ve basically pointed out though is you need a franchise QB to seriously believe in “win now”. Every team in our division is in a win now mode.

    I get IRA’s point about time running out for Brees/Payton but who knows when they’ll get another franchise QB…one could be just a draft away and I think Brees plans on playing at least 2-4 more years. He’s a workout freak.

    Cam is just getting to the middle of his career….Matty Ice is in his prime and our very own #3 is ready to break out big time.

    As fans I think we should enjoy the obvious….the NFC South is now the division of QB’s…should be fun to watch the shootouts over the next few years. We had the team rep the NFC in the past two SB’s and I expect this year will be the 3rd!!

  7. D-Rome Says:

    Ira, where is this week’s podcast? Your loyal listeners are clamoring for one!

  8. Buc1987 Says:

    ZZZZ I think I’ll still sleep.

    Ain’t skeered!

  9. JonBuc Says:

    The NFC South is simply a tough division to be in right now. No cupcakes, star players on every team…4 excellent quarterbacks. Atlanta snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the Super Bowl is probably the best news as it relates to the division rivals. Carolina will be back…and the Saints still have Drew Brees who has broken several passing records in no small part by beating the Bucs for the last decade or so.

  10. Pickgrin Says:

    Who cares – the Saints are on the road to 4ths placeville.

  11. d-roca Says:

    I wont sleep on the saints, ill let them sleep alone. Go bucs

  12. Negative Jeff Says:

    Yes Podcast Please! Only competent Bucs talk is when the Joe’s get with Ira. I like Justin P, but I can’t stand the format of his Podcast. To many idiots calling in with their amateur opinions. I want to listen to people in the know that talk Bucs. On this site, Only Ira and the Joe’s fall into this category.

  13. CarolinaBucFan Says:

    Only further proof that mock drafts are completely ridiculous: I believe it was on Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent mock yesterday that he had the Saints picking McCaffrey at 11 and Trubisky at 32.
    DJ: “doh dumm I dunno. Let’s have the team trying desperately to fix is defense, and in win-now mode, draft two offensive skill position players, one that’s gonna ride the bench, nonetheless.”
    It’s like he didn’t even proof read what his interns reported lol.
    Still probably a better mock draft than what I could make up

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Bucs, Saints, Panthers, Falcons are all in a win-now situation. That’s what makes the NFC South such a tough division. No patsies … tough to beat any division team twice in the same season. Hard to envision any team winning the division though unless they can win at least 3 of the 6 division games as a minimum. And because we’re all so proficient at knocking off each other, I would guess that negatively impacts division teams’ chances of making the playoffs as 1 of the 2 wildcard teams.

  15. TampaTown Says:

    Wonder if anyone else caught the Song of the South reference. The only Walt Disney banned in the USA due to its “slavery is happy and nice” theme. Yes youngsters, this is a true story. Very sad and beyond comprehension. But is also the source of the song “Zippity-Do-Da”

  16. TampaTown Says:

    *Walt Disney movie