The New Orleans Saints, led by quarterback Drew Brees, set a number of offensive records in 2011 and proved to be one of the best offenses in NFL history. While the team's season ended with a road playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Saints will now look to continue their offensive success in the 2012 season and hopefully advance further in the postseason. Although New Orleans may not need to match last year's numbers to have success, the NFC South is always tough, and the Saints' offense will need to perform well again.
The bar is set very high after so many records were set last season, including the team's 7,474 total yards of offense, 5,347 passing yards, 416 first downs and 329 points at home. The Saints' six fumbles were an NFL all-time low. Along the way, players also set individual marks. Brees' 5,476 passing yards and his 13 games with at least 300 passing yards were both season records. Running back Darren Sproles ended the season with a record 2.969 total yards. Meanwhile, tight end Jimmy Graham set a league mark with 1,310 receiving yards, but lost the record later that day when New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski surpassed him. As a Saints fan, 2011 was definitely a fun season.
So can the offense repeat this dominance? That would be asking a lot of a team playing without its head coach. Most fans would agree that postseason success is more important than regular season statistics. Still, there is nothing better as a fan of a team than watching an offense top 500 total yards five times in a season and then again in a playoff game. With Brees' new contract extension, it is possible that he could come out wanting to show that his performance is worth the salary increase.
The team's offense lost only one key player in receiver Robert Meachem. Rookie Nick Toon could possibly take those targets this season, while Devery Henderson and Adrian Arrington may see increased action. But with Graham, Sproles, Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Pierre Thomas all returning, Brees will have plenty of options.
Team success is the ultimate goal. However, Saints fans are looking forward to watching our team take the field and reach for some of the records they established in the great 2011 season.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.
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