The New Orleans Saints had a disappointing season in 2007, finishing with a final score of 7-9. However, the team still has a healthy fan base, considering that for the second year in a row, the Louisiana Superdome sold out every ticket for the season, including every luxury box. The team got off to a rocky start, not only facing the Super Bowl champion Colts in their first game, but ultimately losing the next three games. They also lost running back Deuce McAllister, who suffered a second ACL tear. At one point last season, the team managed to go on a four-game winning streak, but ultimately lost some big games that knocked them out of the playoffs. It was only two years ago that the Saints had a victorious season and won a divisional game over the Philadelphia Eagles. What will it take to get the team back on track?

Management deduces that head coach Sean Payton is still doing his job and preparing his team for another Cinderella-style upset. Since 2006, Payton has been the head coach of the Saints, his first assignment after growing from his assistant head coaching position with the Dallas Cowboys. The team has been patient with Payton, as he’s the man who lifted the Saints from a 3-13 record in 2005 to a playoff appearance the following year, their first in six years, in fact. The team has always ranked high in offense, including passing, and in total points scored. What went wrong last season?

Some fans say expectations may have simply been too high, as the team is still restructuring after new management. The Saints are still considered by many pundits to be a solid team with a core of promising young talent and could be poised to win the NFC South this season. One of the most telling glimpses into the new season will come from the review of the team’s draft picks. The team entered the draft needing a defensive tackle. Like many teams, they had their eye on Glenn Dorsey, but ultimately lost and instead went with USC’s Sedrick Ellis as their first draft pick. The reaction to this move has been largely positive, as Ellis was high up in the draft and is the type of defensive tackle the team could really use. Pundits predict Ellis will emerge as a starter sooner rather than later, even as a rookie.

The Saints were also looking for a cornerback, which is why they took Indiana’s Tracy Porter as their second pick. While Porter isn’t as big of a player as you might expect, he has earned praise for his speed and athleticism. Other notable draft picks included North Carolina State’s DeMario Pressley and Wisconsin’s Taylor Mehlhaff. In addition to some solid draft picks, the team also signed Mike McKenzie, Jason David, Randall Gay, and Usama Young, which cost them dearly. How did fans and pundits respond to the Saint’s offseason game? The fans were enthusiastic, stating that the team filled the gaps they needed very well, even if there weren’t many instant starters. Some criticism was reserved for Adrian Arrington and DeMario Pressley, as players who may lack character. However, the consensus among fans has been that with a strong rookie talent pool and strong defensive tackle in Sedrick Ellis, the team can finally live up to the hype.