Five Biggest Disappointments For Saints In 2017
The New Orleans Saints fell to the Atlanta Falcons, 38-32, in their 2016 regular season finale last Sunday.
The loss dropped the Saints to 7-9, the third-consecutive year they ended their season with that same record.
As is the case in every season, on every team, there were some surprises, as well as some disappointments.
On Tuesday, we took a look at the five biggest surprises, or pleasant surprises, for the Saints in 2016.
Today, we list the five biggest disappointments:
1)---Coby Fleener---You can actually make a legitimate argument that Fleener had a better year with the Saints in 2016 than he had in 2015, his final year with the Colts. He caught four fewer passes, but for 140 more yards. That being said, Fleener never really got going in New Orleans in 2016. He dropped too many passes, seemed to lose confidence, and the Saints seemed to lose confidence in him. He did catch 50 passes for 631 yards and three touchdowns, but much more was expected from Fleener, who signed a 5-year, $36 million deal in the offseason. Also, keep in mind, part of the reason why people were so excited about him signing with the Saints was due to the success that other tight ends had with the team. In 2014, Jimmy Graham compiled 85 receptions for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Ben Watson put together a career-year in 2015, at the age of 35, accumulating 74 receptions for 825 yards and 6 touchdowns.
2)---Stephone Anthony---Maybe the team deserves some criticism here as well, for signing James Laurinaitis, and moving Anthony to outside linebacker. Still, it was a completely wasted year for Anthony, one of the team's two first-round draft choices in 2015, as he made only 16 tackles in 6 games. This is after he finished his rookie season with 112 tackles, with led all rookies, to go along with one sack, one interception, and two forced fumbles, while being named to the Pro Football Writers Association all-rookie team. He seemed to get lost, both on coverage, and on special teams. 2017 will be a big year for Anthony, and the team. If he doesn't rebound, it will become evident that the Saints whiffed on another high draft choice.
3)---Delvin Breaux---Sure, this has more to do with injuries than anything else, but still, after a terrific rookie year in 2015, much more was expected of Breaux this season. Injuries limited him to only 6 games, in which he didn't secure one interception. I think Breaux will bounce back in 2017, but there are no guarantees. He's going to be 28, which is not real young for a cornerback, and he has a history of injuries.
4)---Terron Armstead---Another guy who made the list simply because of health. Armstead signed a 5-year, $65 million deal with the Saints last offseason, a deal which was justified, after he developed into one of the best young left tackles in the NFL. A knee injury limited Armstead to only 7 games, and even in those 7 games, he didn't look like the Terron Armstead of 2013 and 2014. Armstead is too good, too athletic, and too young not to bounce back. I suspect, if healthy, he'll have a Pro Bowl-type of year in 2017. 2016, however, was a disappointment.
5)---James Laurinaitis---The Saints signed the middle linebacker in the offseason, hoping he'd be a veteran influence, and the defensive quarterback. Laurinaitis only managed to compile 9 tackles in 5 games, prior to being placed on injured reserve with a quad injury in early November, and then finally waived two weeks later. In 7 seasons with the Rams, Laurinaitis had never registered fewer than 109 tackles. Even worse, the Saints' plan of moving Stephone Anthony didn't work out, and wasted a year in his maturation process.