After narrowly missing the playoffs the preceding year, New Orleans Saints fans were all to ready to see the beginning of the 1990 season.
Of the draftees taken, four would make contributions. Second round pick Robert Massey of North Carolina Central would start that season at cornerback and together with Offensive Tackle Kevin Haverdink of Western Michigan (a fifth round pick) would be named to several All-Rookie Teams. Sixth round pick, Floyd Turner, a receiver out of Northwest Louisiana, would remain with the team until 1993, mostly as a back-up.
It was first round pick Wayne Martin of Arkansas that would make the biggest impact. Martin would crack the starting line-up the following season and remained a starter until he retired in 1999. His 82.5 sacks still ranks second on the All-Time Saints Team list.
The season opener against Dallas was one to remember. The 28-0 blanking of the Cowboys was only the eighth shutout in New Orleans Saints History. Bobby Hebert was 16 of 19 on the day as the offense controlled the ball over 44 minutes. Dallas had only 20 yards rushing and 174 yards total offense.
The Saints failed to capitalize on the open day win as they dropped the next 4 to Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Washington and San Fransisco. Worse yet was news that All-Pro linebacker Rickey Jackson had been injured in a motorcycle accident after the Dallas game. After surgery to repair his fractured cheek bone, his was suppose to miss 4-6 weeks. He missed only the next 2 games (against Green Bay and Tampa Bay -- the only 2 games he missed due to injury in his 15 year career). He was back in the lineup by week 4 against Washington with jaw wired shut and a special face mask.
The Saints finally got back on track with their ninth straight win over an AFC opponent. The 29-14 victory over the Jets. Rickey Jackson, still recovering from his accident 4 weeks prior recorded 2 sacks.
Dalton Hillard led the Saints in Rushing and Scoring in 1989.
Both offense and defense contributed in the third win of the season as the Saints traveled to Anaheim and put 40 points on the Rams. Dalton Hillard rushed for 3 touchdowns and Bobby Hebert passed for 276 yards and 2 scores of his own. Pat Swilling racked up 3 of the teams 6 sacks. Dalton Hillard was named NFC Offensive player of the week. Led by the Dome Patrol, the defense kept things up as had yet another 6 sack game, this time against the Falcons. Pat Swilling had 3 himself and was named NFC Defensive player of the week.
Things were going just too well when The Saints traveled to Candlestick Park for a Monday Night meeting with San Fransisco. Joe Montana began his dismantling of the Saints on the very first 49er possesion with an 8-play, 78 yard drive that ended with a 32 yard Jerry Rice score. The Saints responded with a 10-play 74 yard march of their own that was capped by a 1-yard Dalton Hillard run. San Fransisco answered with their own 10 play, 85 yard drive. This time the score was a 2-yard Montana to Rice strike. The Saints managed a 39-yard Morten Andersen fieldgoal, but that was about all the Saints could muster. Joe Montana would pass for another TD and run for one more as the New Orleans Saints suffered yet another seasonal sweep to the 49ers.
New Orleans rebounded the following game as they beat New England. Going up 28-0 in the second quarter, the Saints held off a Patriot rally and wound up with a 28-24 victory as Dalton Hillard rushed for 106 yards (his first 100 yard game of the season) and 2 scores. Hillard shined again the following week against Atlanta with a 158 yard performance. His 22 yard TD run set a team record as the LSU product set a team record with his fifth straight with a score. Hometown favorite Buford Jordan of McNeese State added 2 touchdowns of his own. Pat Swilling had 3 and-a-half sacks and back-up linebacker Brian Forde blocked a punt for a safety in the 26-17 win.
A first round pick in 1989, Wayne Martin played 10 years with the Saints and tallied 82 sacks.
An overtime loss to the Rams in the Super Dome was only made worse by Rams receiver Flipper Andersen setting an NFL record 336 yards receiving. Against the Lions both sides of the ball struggled in a 21-14 loss. The only bright spot of the game was a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown by Bobby Morse. It was the first kickoff score the Saints had since 1986.
With a 6-7 record, the Saints where officially out of playoff contention.
Against the Bills, Bobby Hebert was benched and former replacement player John Fourcade was given the starting quarterback duties. His first non-strike start was phenomenal. Getting help from the defense (3 interceptions) and Kicker Morten Andersen (3 fieldgoals) Fourcade passed for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns in an upset against the mighty Bills. Eric Martin finished with 4 catches for 100 yards and Brett Perriman had 4 grabs for 96 yards.
Fourcade followed up with a 3 touchdown performance against Philadelphia on the Saints second Monday Night game of the year. The defense may have bent, giving up 127 yards rushing and 408 yards total offense, but it didn't break. Coming up with big plays at key moments, the Saints downed the Eagles 30-20 in the Superdome. Frank Warren collared Randell Cunningham in the endzone for a safety and Gene Atkins blocked a 20-yard fieldgoal attempt after the Eagle offense drove to the Saints 3 yard line. Long time veteran Frank Warren finished with a personal career high 3 sacks on the game. Eric Martin had 120 yards and 2 scores on 9 catches. Indianapolis was knocked out the playoffs 41-6 in the season finale as John Fourcade continued his Superman impression with 291 yards and 2 touchdowns passing. He also added a 2 yard TD run as New Orleans had yet another upset to finish the season. Defender Toi Cook had a 63-yard interception return for a score and longtime New Orleans Saint Dave Waymer set a new career interception record with 37, breaking the previous mark set by Tommy Myers.
Bobby Hebert ended the season with 2686 yards and a 82.7 quarterback rating and Dalton Hillard finished with 1262 yards (third in the NFC) and 13 touchdowns -- his 344 attempts were second in the NFL. With his 5 touchdowns receiving, he was the Saints leading scorer with 108 points. Morten Andersen was right behind with 104 total points. Eric Martin led all receivers with 68 catches and 1090 yards, 8 touchdowns.
Defensively, Dave Waymer led with 6 interceptions, though rookie Robert Massey was right behind with 5. Pat Swilling's 16-and-a half sacks led the team, with Frank Warren's 9.5 second. Rickey Jackson, despite his motorcycle mishap finished with 7.5 sacks and 40 tackles. Sam Mills led in tackles with 80.
Pat Swilling, Vaughn Johnson and Dalton Hillard all made the Pro Bowl.