The 2012 Saints season was mistakenly predicted as one where the Saints would overcome unprecedented circumstances. Against all odds, the Black & Gold were going to win even without one of the best head coaches in the NFL. The emotion of playing for Sean Payton was going carry the Saints back into the postseason.
How wrong were we!
It ended up being a draining, up-and-down journey that no one associated with this organization wants to go through again.
History will look at 2012 much as they did 2005, with an asterisk. The playing field was not equal for the Saints and, given all it had to overcome, still finished 7-9. Not acceptable but not a complete loss like '05 turned out to be.
Now that the exhausting year is done, it's time to refresh and reflect on the season that was.
Could someone please get this guy to the Pro Bowl? Without question the most underrated player in the NFL. And for the first time since 2006, he is the MVP of the Saints offense. No one has scored more touchdowns in a Saints uniform than Colston. Plus, in an erratic year for the Saints offense, Colston was a steady force: 83 catches, 1154 yards and 10 touchdowns. Just another season for Colston that no one outside of New Orleans seems to recognize.
There was no better Saints defender in 2012 than Jordan. Jordan proved he is an every down defensive end that was extremely productive in both the run and pass games. He led the team with eight sacks and was fourth on the team with 66 tackles. I look for Jordan to make another leap forward in 2013.
SPECIAL TEAMS MVP
Morstead is the best punter in the NFL and, short of the New York Giants game, he's a touchback waiting to happen on kickoffs. Morstead flirted with the NFL's all-time net punt average this season and led the NFC with an amazing 50.1 yard per punt average.
In my humble opinion, Morstead was the only Saint who earned his trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.
BEST FREE AGENT
Lofton provided consistency and productivity to a unit that sorely lacked in both. He led the team with 123 tackles. Lofton was the best free agent addition to 2012.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
By far, the easiest award to give. Other than Corey White, the Saints got ZERO production out of their five draft picks. Hicks showed flashes of greatness his rookie year despite hitting the proverbial ‘rookie wall' late in the season. His athleticism and explosiveness in the interior could make him a mainstay along the defensive line for years to come.
Steve Spagnuolo's 1st year
If you've read my work throughout this year, you know I've stayed away from piling on Spagnuolo. In fact, I've chronicled through film study just how much the Saints defense improved as the year went on.
Still, you can't set a record for most yards given up in a season and expect a lot of praise. Spags was brought in to improve this defense and it didn't happen.
I don't think Spags gets fired but there must be improvement in 2013 for him to stick around past two seasons.
WHAT I'LL MISS
Joe Vitt press conferences
Whether intentional or not, Vitt always made Monday mornings entertaining. When it came to sound bites, Vitt was pure gold. Vitt is an old-school, no-nonsense kind of guy that hated the media aspect of the interim coach. That persona translated into some of the most memorable lines of 2012.
For instance, a reporter once asked Vitt what Christmas meant to him. His response was, "What, do you want me to sing a Christmas Carol? We're working, man!"
There was also the time a photographer took an insane amount of pictures up close. Vitt responded with this beauty: "Are you through taking pictures, man? Jesus!"
Those are just two of the many Vitt sayings I'll miss from 2012.
- I've been asked several times how many games did not having Payton cost the Saints. I can definitively say two, at the very least. With Payton, the Saints would not have lost to Kansas City or the season finale to Carolina. In both games the Saints were dominating but were then shell-shocked by a big play that didn't go their way. They lost their concentration to the point where it cost them a win. Payton would not have allowed that if he were on the sideline. I could probably add more, but without question two more wins is a guarantee with Payton.
- Speaking of Payton, it's mind-boggling that Roger Goodell still wants to keep him suspended past the Super Bowl. Goodell has set a precedent to allow suspended players to come back early for good behavior. The same should apply to coaches. The damage has already been done to the Saints season. Let him come back and get started on 2013. This reeks of a power-trip by Goodell.
- BCS Championship loss, Saints playoff loss, bounty investigation, coach/player suspensions, Drew Brees' contract, Tyrann Mathieu suspension, overturned suspensions and end of Saints disappointing season. Yes, I'd say 2012 was a sports year for the ages.
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