From the basement | Saints Must Be Better • The Tulane Hullabaloo
The New Orleans Saints went 3-5 start this season, a record that disappointed many fans. The question is, what is the cause of these struggles and how can they remedy it?
The answer must start with who they have lost in the past few years. Every franchise dreams of having a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback, Drew Brees, and a Hall of Fame caliber head coach, Sean Payton, to 15 years old. Losing both in one year can be very difficult to recover.
However, Sean Payton did not leave the franchise empty when he left. They went 9-8 last year and had promising players all over the field. Many thought the Saints would be fine without them, as some members of the media had exorbitant expectations for the season. Peter King picked the Saints to go 12-5, winning the National Football Conference South and securing the a seed in the conference. Fox Sports called Jameis Winston a sleeper MVP Candidateand the money in Vegas supported that.
The problem starts with the new head coach — Dennis Allen. Four of the Saints’ five losses this year have ended in a score. Usually, when a team can’t win close games, it reflects badly on coaching. I’ve never been a fan of hiring Allen to replace Payton because he’s failed as an NFL head coach before. On his first stint with the Oakland Raiders, he went 4-12 in his first season, 4-12 in his second season and then 0-4 in his third and final season before getting fired. It’s not exactly good.
The Saints opted for safety by promoting from within, but I don’t believe that’s best for the organization. They better scout and hire the next Sean Payton instead of keeping his last scraps. Lots of bright young minds are out there waiting for someone to give them a chance. Three intriguing offensive coordinators that come to mind are Eric Bieniemy of the Kansas City Chiefs, Ken Dorsey of the Buffalo Bills and Kellen Moore of the Dallas Cowboys.
The second big problem with the Saints is at quarterback. Both Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton have had good times and bad, but it’s clear that neither is the long-term answer to quarterbacking. In league with rising stars like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and many others, being stuck in quarterback purgatory is one of the worst and most dangerous places. With no first-round picks, finding an upgrade can become very difficult to do.
However, recent offseasons have shown that there are several different paths to finding a franchise quarterback. The Cincinnati Bengals — the 2022 american football conference champions — selected Joe Burrow first overall, an option the Saints are unlikely to have. Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign Tom Brady through free agency and won a Super Bowl the same year. However, there is only one game changer in the quarterback of 2023 free agency class. Ironically, that quarterback is Tom Brady. I doubt Brady will jump ship, especially for a division rival, but you never know.
I believe the best and most realistic option for the Saints is to follow in the footsteps of the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams knew they were one quarterback away from contention, so they traded for Matthew Stafford. This trade worked out well for them, as he delivered a Super Bowl in his freshman year. If the Saints think they’re just one quarterback away from the offseason dispute, making a Matthew Stafford-style trade might not be the worst idea. Quarters like Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr are quarterbacks who could become unhappy with their current situation and potentially be made available for trade. Putting one of those guys with Chris Olave, Alvin Kamara and the Saints’ loaded defense could get the organization back on track.
The key to any NFL team’s success starts with an elite head coach and quarterback, two things the Saints lack. However, there are ways to address these issues, and with the amount of talent on the roster, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Saints return to the Super Bowl very soon.