The New Orleans Saints are 0-3 to begin the 2012 season, mostly due to team's 32nd ranked rushing defense. As a Saints fan, I would also like to see the offense cut down on mistakes and play a little better, and New Orleans will need to score more points if it is going to win right now. However, one player who has picked up where he left off last season is tight end Jimmy Graham. One of the top tight ends in the league, Graham consistently provides a sure-handed target for quarterback Drew Brees. Most importantly, he is great in the redzone, and fans are becoming quite accustomed to Graham's goalpost touchdown dunks.
With a touchdown in each of the team's three games this year, Graham has now scored in six straight regular season games. Furthermore, when including the Saints' two playoff games from last season, Graham has caught nine touchdown passes in his last eight games. Even in Week Three, when he caught four passes for only 16 yards, the New Orleans tight end still scored.
Graham is one of the bright spots for a team that is not meeting expectations, and he may still have upside. With only one year of football in college, Graham has only 31 regular season NFL games under his belt so far. There has been definite improvement in the second half of those games, though. As Brees relies more and more on his tight end, Graham's production increases.
In Graham's last 10 regular season games, he has caught 61 passes for 691 yards and nine touchdowns. He also was huge in the postseason last year, with 12 receptions, 158 yards and three scores in two games.
When the Saints eventually turn things around this season, fans know that Graham will deserve some of the credit. As defenses double-team him on pass routes, he now has to work harder to get free. I am confident that Graham will adapt and will continue to score touchdowns. This offense has not yet shown how good it can be in 2012, but Graham has looked great and will help the team get this season back on track soon.
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.