Here’s a fun two-part mini-series we are going to start with today. There’s been no other coach in New Orleans Saints history to make an impact on the franchise like Sean Payton. In 2006, Payton took a team that was in utter turmoil, and full of uncertainty. With the help of a cast of characters like Drew Brees, they became winners, and have stole the hearts of fans across the globe. Payton’s all-time record sits at 73-39, a 65.2% winning percentage, with 10 postseason appearances (6-4).
I’ve scoured New Orleans Saints teams of past and present (since 2006 that is), and assembled the starting roster for the ‘All-Time Sean Payton Team‘. Understand that the majority of players from last year are going to be excluded from this roster. Why? Because it’s too easy to put guys like Keenan Lewis and Kenny Vaccaro on this list. When I think of all-time, I think of the guys who have been around for a while.
We’ll start with the offense, which is made up of twenty-four Who Dat Nation favorites.
Drew Brees, Chase Daniel
Thoughts: You have no other quarterback in consideration that would ever beat out Drew Brees for the starting job. As for the backup? It’s not that I don’t value the veteran leadership of Mark Brunnell or Luke McCown, I just think Daniel was the future, and he was most like Brees. We’ll stick with a two quarterback roster, which has been the norm for Coach Payton, up until last season.
Deuce McAllister, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, Mike Bell
Thoughts: You aren’t going to forget the 2006 season, as Deuce McAllister was the last Saints 1,000 yard rusher – yeah, it’s been that long. Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles speak for themselves, as it should be no mystery as to what they bring to the table. As for the final spot? I chose Mike Bell over Chris Ivory. Why? Bell was a find from free agency after showing some good things out in Denver. He was the last Saints rusher to get even close to McAllister. Just watch some of his film from 2009, and you’ll agree. Before you blast me by saying, ‘Where Reggie Bush!’, understand that there may be another position that he’ll wind up on my roster.
Mike Karney, Jed Collins
Thoughts: Mike Karney was originally a draft pick in the Jim Haslett Era in 2004. Karney would play with the Saints until 2008, and fans might remember him most for his ‘dream’ game against the Cowboys in 2006, where Karney scored three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing). Karney also finished 2006 & 2007 as a second-team All-Pro, and a Pro Bowl alternate. Jed Collins is a no brainer in my opinion. He hopped on to the Saints after spending several seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. While he had a nice career with the team, perhaps the biggest thing we’ll remember him for is the ‘Wolverine’ like look. Well, that and the name JEDIDIAH! Those of you who might be wondering about Heath Evans, just remember that while he did earn his first super bowl ring in his career with the black and gold, his season was cut short in 2009 after the win against Miami.
Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, Joe Horn, Robert Meachem
Thoughts: ‘Mr. Reliable’ needs no support to be on this list. He belongs. As for the other receivers? When you think about the laundry list of accomplishments and successes these players had in their stint with the Saints, I can’t really find anyone else I would rather have Drew Brees throwing the ball to. Even though Joe Horn played one season under Sean Payton, he still gets on my list. Here’s an interesting stat for you: Of the 38,733 total passing yards Drew Brees has in his tenure as a Saint, 51.4% of the receiving yards (19,924 yards) came from these receivers.
Jimmy Graham, Jeremy Shockey, David Thomas
Thoughts: If you’re going to make me explain the choice of Jimmy Graham, then you might want to question your status as a football fan. Shockey was obtained prior to the 2009 season from the New York Giants, and played with a fiery edge until 2011. Shockey’s tuteledge is often overlooked with the development of Jimmy Graham, but the Miami Hurricanes connection was strong in their time together. David Thomas was more of the forgotten ‘third-wheel’ in the Saints tight end mix, but played with the team from 2009-2012. Thomas would have a career high 35 receptions in the 2009 season.
Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks, Ben Grubbs
Thoughts: Remember when Jamar Nesbit was having his issues? It was Carl Nicks (as a rookie) that stepped in to pick up the slack, and then some. Though Nicks has not had the type of success with the Bucs, he still is the same guard who has two pro bowl appearances (2010, 2011), two all-pro seasons (2010, 2011), and a 2x Madden Most Valuable Protector Award winner (2009, 2011). I don’t have to tell you why Jahri Evans belongs. As for Ben Grubbs, his entrance to the team from the Baltimore Ravens after losing Nicks continued to solidfy the guard position for the Saints.
Jonathan Goodwin, Brian de la Puente
Thoughts: Goody had the job until 2010, Olin Kreutz lasted a handful of games, and then there was Brian de la Puente. There’s not much else to say about that. On a side note, how awesome is it to have Goody back at center?
Jon Stinchcomb, Jermon Bushrod, Zach Strief
Thoughts: I’d put Jermon Bushrod taking the blind side, and Stinchcomb on the right. This amount of beef and expertise is more than enough to keep people from getting to Drew Brees. Stinchcomb was a lifetime Saint (2003-2010). Without Jermon Bushrod, there would be no Super Bowl. He was called upon in 2009 after Jammal Brown went down with an injury, and would never be removed after.
My All-Time Payton Team Starting Roster – Offense
QB: Drew Brees
RB: Deuce McAllister
FB: Mike Karney
WR: Marques Colston
WR: Devery Henderson
WR: Lance Moore
TE: Jimmy Graham
LT: Jermon Bushrod
LG: Ben Grubbs
C: Jonathan Goodwin
RG: Jahri Evans
RT: Jonathan Stinchcomb
Like our list? Do you agree with the selection of players, or would you change out someone? Let us know below! Stay tuned for Part 2!