Why the New Orleans Saints will make the playoffs: No. 1, Sean Payton
By John Hendrix
We’re wrapping up our series that highlights reasons why the New Orleans Saints will make the playoffs in 2015. Up until now, I’ve given you nine reasons why the team legitimately has a chance to taste some postseason glory. Before we dive into my most important reason, let’s recap up until this point.
- No. 10, Revenge motivates all
- No. 9, Different attitude from the top down
- No. 8, Veteran leadership echoes Sean Payton’s message
- No. 7, The draft class compliments the roster
- No. 6, Unpredictability of offensive attack
- No. 5, Improved defense won’t let last year happen again
- No. 4, Revamped offensive line will help keep Brees upright
- No. 3, Punishing rushing attack
- No. 2, Drew Brees
Quite simply put, none of the previously mentioned areas work without head coach Sean Payton. He’s meant the world to the New Orleans Saints franchise since he entered the picture in 2006. His vision, experience, and coaching tree lineage is evident in how he carries himself on and off the field.
Why would someone suggest that the head coach is the most important piece to a playoff run? In an interview with Times-Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan, Sean Payton was extremely humbled during the offseason, personally accepting a lot of the team’s faults and shortcomings last year.
"“This offseason and the direction we took was not renewing our vows, but more like, hey, let’s pay attention to what we created and how fragile that can be because of free agency, because of injury, because of the way system is set up,” Payton said. “Let’s not lose track of what has given us a chance to be successful. “Fear is a great motivator,” Payton added. “The idea of not having success again this season …”"
Getting the right support system around the team was a priority during the offseason, and that’s why you see a coaching staff almost as large as the Seattle Seahawks. Most notably, the addition of Dennis Allen helps even out Rob Ryan and provides discipline and mentorship. Support characters like offensive assistant Greg Lewis, wide receivers coach John Morton, running backs coach Joel Thomas, and defensive assistant/linebackers coach James Willis only compliment the team. More importantly, they come from winning and successful programs.
Payton’s clearly landing messages early with the team, and setting the example for anyone that desires to find themselves on the final 53-man roster. Accountability for conduct on and off the field is held to a higher standard, just ask Junior Galette. Galette made it clear with the media upon his release, stating that this was Sean’s team and he makes the calls.
Sean Payton has an opportunity to tie or beat out Jim Mora this season as the all-time winningest coach, but that would mean the Saints need to finish at 13-3 or better. Mora finished his career with a 93-78 record (55.7% winning percentage). Payton currently sits at 80-48, but boasts a 62.5% winning percentage in a fewer span of seasons.
Consider Sean Payton’s direction and leadership the ‘gorilla glue’ of the 2015 New Orleans Saints. How he motivates his team and responds to adversity will ultimately dictate the direction of the black and gold once they open on the road against the Arizona Cardinals on September 13. For a struggling program, getting off on the right foot is crucial to long-term success.
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