Saints’ defensive struggles have one common denominator. Spoiler alert: it’s Sean Payton.
It’s time to come to terms with this New Orleans Saints team. Even though head coach Sean Payton has provided a rebirth of football in New Orleans, the biggest blemish on the team in the past 11+ seasons, the defensive struggles, falls on him.
Rarely do I call for any team to fire their head coach, let alone my favorite. But, the dots are connecting in the Big Easy. The Saints have only had two seasons in which their defense has ranked in the top-5 under Payton. And they have been ranked 23rd or worse nine different times.
Gregg Williams, Rob Ryan, Gary Gibbs, Steve Spagnuolo, and, now, Dennis Allen. None of those coordinators could (or can) produce quality and consistent defensive numbers. However, after many years of the same old song and dance, it’s time to realize that the main reason the Saints can’t defend air doesn’t lie on the coordinators.
It falls on Payton
Payton is an offensive mastermind. His constant work to help make Drew Brees a top quarterback in the league is more valuable than anything us fans could ask for. His scheming with the run game, and intelligent use of personnel over the years, earns him even more credentials.
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But the passes for poor defenses have run out. Five defensive coordinators in twelve seasons might not seem like a lot. But the quick shuffling recently has proven the team is covering the wounds with band aids.
If two different defensive coordinators can’t get the job done, it’s probably not their fault. Ryan ran exotic blitzes with schematic coverages. He didn’t last two seasons. Allen incorporates zone packages with savvy personnel changes. The Saints were awful in his first two seasons, and have sacrificed 65 points in two games so far this season. Maybe it’s the man at the helm?
Look, I’m not saying Payton should be fired right now, or that the team would even be better off without him. It’s time, though, to realize where the defensive problems stem. Payton was never built to incorporate anything amazing on the defensive side of the ball, and he has yet to adjust himself to do so for the Saints.
Can general manager Mickey Loomis realize that, and act upon it, in time? I’m giving Payton until the bye week to figure this out, because the season is going down the drain fast. Many fans are calling for a clean house, and this 0-2 start has those same fans gaining traction. If 0-3 rolls around, most of us will be vying for it to happen as soon as possible.