Myths come from common misperceptions that are repeated enough times that people start believing it without researching or thinking it through. This year, it is often repeated that the Saints are “returning their starters” and is a “veteran team” that will benefit from the lockout and shortened preparation time for the season. This implies that not many on the team are learning a new position or a new playbook. That could also imply that there aren’t many rookies or second year players in starting positions. Guess what, it’s simply not true.
Yes there are returning starters and yes most of the leaders like Drew Brees and Jonathan Vilma are the same, but there are a lot of new starting players this year and some of them are completely new to the Saints organization.
On defense there were five starters on Thursday night that did not start for the Saints in 2010 and four of them weren’t with the team last year. DE’s Turk McBride (Det) and Cam Jordan (R), DT Shawn Rodgers (Cle), OLB Will Herring (Sea), and 2nd year player CB Patrick Robinson (NO). There was also one that is only in his second year even at the position he is at, much less a starter, free safety Malcolm Jenkins.
On offense the team started 5 new starters, 3 of which weren’t with the team last year. OL Olin Kruetz (Chi), Zach Strief (NO), 2nd year player TE Jimmy Graham (NO), FB Korey Hall (GB), RB Mark Ingram (R).
This isn’t to say that these aren’t good players or that the Saints have anything to worry about with them in their positions. The point is that both Sean Payton and Gregg Williams run complex schemes that require team chemistry and knowledge of what is expected (“DO YOUR JOB!”). That will come with time, but without OTAs and much time for these players to gel in their respective systems, it is misleading to say the Saints are a “veteran team” that benefits from the lockout.