Superbowl contention, playoffs, 7-9 or not — Sean Payton is a good coach, and the Saints are better with him than without.
Sean Payton’s tenure in New Orleans has been the brightest period in Saints history. But even so, many feel the golden years of the marriage are already in the rearview. Payton brought the franchise to new heights, and is forever enshrined in the hearts of Louisiana, but since the 2013 Payton’s Saints haven’t reached the heights fans had learned to expect.
Still, those calling for Payton’s head don’t appreciate what Payton brings to this team.
It’s not that Payton’s legacy as the HC of the first power-house period in Saints history earns him unquestioned devotion. It doesn’t. A great coach can bring you a long way. But sometimes the team, the players and the city need a change of voice. Sometimes a coach needs a change of scenery. And sometimes you have to let a great coach go to improve your team.
But that’s not the case with Sean Payton. His presence in New Orleans is, beyond Brees, the thing most keeping the team afloat.
Payton is, always has been and for the foreseeable future will remain, one of the premier offensive minds in the game. That sort of talent doesn’t just come out of nowhere, and it doesn’t always translate to top-tier head coaching. Kyle Shanahan, considered by most to be the top offensive gameplanner in the league last year, is a perfect example. Shanahan is by all accounts a great OC — his 2016 season was even better than Payton’s, with admittedly more talent on the unit — but he has a bad track record as a HC.
Payton, on the other hand, has shown he has what it takes to win. And while recent years were plagued by losing records and poor personnel management, the latter of those problems at least appears to be a thing of the past. Payton’s propensity for splashy, high-profile signings are hopefully a thing of the past, and now that Jairus Byrd is off the squad the last blemishes are starting to clear. Payton and Mickey Loomis have put together a blue-collar team with a strong series of options, all relatively cheap, at each position.
If Payton the GM has finally figured things out, it should allow Payton the HC to shine. His offense looks to have the tools to reach 2011-esque levels of dominance ‚— health permitting — and the defense is on the ups. I’ve said every year that the Saints are knocking at the gates, but bear with me one last time. If I’m wrong, I’ll learn to keep my head down. But Sean Payton and this Saints team look poised to take the league by storm.