METAIRIE, La. -- Here are the Love and hate observations from Saints camp.
• Drew Brees. There is talk that he is now in the top tier of the league's passers, joining Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He's close, but not there yet. One more Super Bowl victory or another record-breaking season might get him there. He's truly special in the way he runs the New Orleans offense. He is so good at going to the right guy, getting the ball out on time, that he makes it so tough for defenses.
• Sean Payton's play-calling. He is as aggressive as any coach in football. He isn't afraid to take chances. It helps that he has a player like Brees running things, but he is just as good at picking the right play at the right time. There's arrogance to being a great play caller, and Payton has it. You can't be scared. Payton never is, which is why he's tops in football when it comes to scheming up plays. Don't expect any letup from him.
• The interior of the offensive line might be the best in the NFL. Center Jonathan Goodwin has surprised with his play the past two years and guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans are the best pair in football. Evans is considered one of the best guards in football, but Nicks isn't far behind. Some Saints observers think he was the better of the two guards late last season. They are both maulers who excel in pass protection.
• Corners Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer were keys to the Super Bowl season, even though Greer missed eight games. They both can play good man coverage, which allows the Saints to blitz in Gregg Williams' scheme. Porter was the hero of the Super Bowl with his pick for a score against Manning. Greer was one of the team's best defenders last season when he was on the field.
• Williams. He is an aggressive coordinator who helped overcome some deficiencies up front last season by his exotic schemes. He didn't win as a head coach in Buffalo, but another good year could get him another shot next season.
• Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas as receivers. Those two are such weapons in the passing game for Brees. Whenever he dumps off a pass, Bush and Thomas are great at turning those short passes into big plays. It causes big problems for defenses.
• Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma plays with a passion you want from that position. He is not a big linebacker, but he's smart and he knows how to get to the football. His speed really helps in what the Saints do on defense.
• Aside from Will Smith, where do they get the pass rush? They acquired Alex Brown from the Bears. They also re-signed Bobby McCray, but neither can be counted on to be the same type of player Smith is on the other side. It might be up to Williams to cover up for that spot again. "Gregg has so many packages," Smith said. "We can get creative in our pass rush."
• Jermon Bushrod played well in relief of the injured Jammal Brown last season. The Saints thought so much of Bushrod that they traded Brown to the Redskins. Now it's up to Bushrod to show that he can handle being a No. 1 left tackle for an entire season. He has some trouble with speed rushers, so that will be something to watch throughout the season.
• The offseason. This is a team that spent much of the first couple of months after winning the Super Bowl in party mode. How do they come back from that? Both Brees and Payton released books and did tours for them, so this has been a different offseason in a lot of ways. They are also now the hunted. "We expect everyone to bring their 'A' game," Vilma said. "We expected them to bring it last year. Shame on them if they didn't. But we're not worried about their 'A' game. We just have to do what we know we need to do."