Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/4/13

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after his team defeated the Indianapolis Colts during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
This time last year, the New Orleans Saints were headed into a territory that no other team has ever been.NFL commissioner Roger Goodell placed a suspension on the Saints like no other in NFL history. Among the suspensions were players, coaches, and even the the team GM Mickey Loomis got the axe for almost half of the season.  The most profound and cost worthy suspension had to go to head coach Sean Payton who was terminated for the whole 2012-13 season.  It had to be weird and yet humbling to be Sean, watching games at home as a fan like most of us do and not as the head of the snake just a few years removed from the 2009 Super Bowl and world champ honors.Fast forward now to the present day.  The players are back (Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma), GM Mickey Loomis is back, and most importantly the chief guru Sean Payton is back to partner with his on field protege quarterback Drew Brees.  It won’t be easy for the Saints though getting back to glory. The offense will be a well-oiled running machine as always under the direction of Payton but the defense has Saints fans wondering if we can be a playoff team.The 2012 New Orleans Saints' defense set the NFL record for most yards allowed in a single season allowing 7,042 yards, shattering the Baltimore Colts' 31-year-old record of 6,793 yards.One way to get better is to do what the Saints did in the offseason by hiring ex-Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Ryan, who is known for his exotic and unpredictable defensive style, hopes to help get the Saints over the hump.  The biggest difference will be the Saints switching from a 4-3 defensive alignment to a 3-4 package. Its going to be interesting to see if the Saints have the personale to fit Rob Ryan’s scheme. Players like Will Smith, who has always played the game in a three-point stance position, will now be playing outside linebacker.  The move in my opinion has already been costly as Will is now done for the season after he suffered a knee injury against the Houston Texans in the third preseason game of the year. Defensive end Cameron Jordan and outside linebackers Junior Galette and Martez Wilson are all expected to have emerging, breakout seasons under Ryan. With the additions of first round draft pick, play-making safety Kenny Vaccaro in the mix, who has had a great camp, will give Rex and the Saints' defense some versatility and explosiveness.With the first game of the season kicking off against their hated rival the Atlanta Falcons on September 8 in the Superdome, we will get a chance to see what type of offensive potions coach Sean Payton has been cooking up since the suspension.  With blooming star quarterback Matt Ryan, free agent running back signee Steven Jackson and the terrible tandem of receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, arguably the best tag team of receivers in the league, the defensive will get a quick understanding of how well the new defensive scheme will work. Kickoff is set for 12:00 CT.
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