NFL teams are in the midst of training camp and the preseason has begun. What do we expect from the New Orleans Saints in 2017?

It’s safe to say we’re not shy when it comes to getting you ready for the upcoming NFL season. Since March, we have strung together four different series in preparation for the fall. We just concluded looking at all 32 teams’ most improved area. That was preceded by pieces on a club’s best offseason addition, some facts, figures and feats for each squad, as well as an up-and-coming player for each roster.

So call this one for the thumb. With the regular-season rapidly approaching, we’ll take a look at what we could expect from each team. Every team wants to win the Super Bowl. However, 31 teams will obviously be disappointed. So we have been taking a look at all 32 clubs (in original 2017 draft order) and doing a little analysis. You can play catch up right here. So what are we really expecting from the New Orleans Saints in 2017?

The ever-changing roster of the New Orleans Saints continues as the team signs veteran defensive end Jason Jones, who played for the Miami Dolphins this past season (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). He offers versatility because he can also line up inside. Earlier this offseason, the team places Nick Fairley on season-ending injured reserve due to his heart condition.

By now, we are all very aware of what quarterback Drew Brees and his offensive counterparts can do. Even if the cast changes a little, Sean Payton’s attack is always among the best in the league. Michael Thomas had a banner rookie season and will see even more passes his way now that Brandin Cooks is a member of the New England Patriots. The ground game gets a bit of a boost via veteran Adrian Peterson but don’t count out underappreciated Mark Ingram.

Still, it’s the defense that has been the issue for years. Along with Jones, newcomers on the four-man line now include Tony McDaniel and pass-rusher Alex Okafor. The Saints uses one of their first-round picks on cornerback Marshon Lattimore. They grab safety Marcus Williams in the second round. The club adds both outside linebacker Alex Anzalone and defensive end Trey Hendrickson in the third. It’s time this unit got its act together.

Summation:

After reaching the playoffs three straight years from 2009-11 and capturing a Super Bowl title that first season, the New Orleans Saints have posted a 7-9 record four times since (with an 11-5 mark in ’13). Despite the explosive plays by Brees and company, stopping the other team from doing the same remains an issue. And now this is an NFC South that has produced the last two conference champions in the Carolina Panthers (2015) and Atlanta Falcons (2016). And lest we forget the improving Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Moving up in this division will be tough unless the Saints rediscover that takeaway formula that served them so well back in ’09. Another sub-.500 season seems inevitable, although the team could inch its way to nine victories with a few timely bounces of the ball.

Russell S. Baxter is the NFL lead columnist for EndZoneScore.com and the founder of ProFootballGuru.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.

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