The Saints have benefited from the services of head coach Sean Payton for a long time, and they continued to reap said benefits this season.
Despite Brees’ decline and his injury, New Orleans still won 12 games, and also scored the sixth-most points per play this season.
Specifically, Payton’s ability to leverage early-down play-action passes to put Hill in a position to succeed was impressive, and he built a creative offense that helped them go 3-1 in his span as the starter.
However, there are also some less-encouraging metrics from Payton. Overall, they were one of the most run-heavy teams in football on early downs, and generally, that isn’t the way to have an efficient offense.
In a way, it appeared at times that they were trying to protect Brees by doing that, but putting him in third-down passing situations is not what you want to do.
As you can see, Payton’s conservativeness on fourth down hampered the team’s ability to win games.
Yes, they still won 12 games, but this is something to keep an eye on come playoff time. The Saints are likely to engage in close games, and should they be too conservative, they risk losing to an aggressive team, as they did to the Eagles in Week 14.
Now, a lot of the conservative teams are in the NFC playoff picture, but a matchup against the Packers could go poorly should they not adapt.
As for defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, this was the most impressed I’ve been with him during his time as the team’s defensive coordinator.
He sacrificed fewer coverage players to rush the passer this season, and thus, the defense worked together much more cohesively. He did a nice job taking advantage of the versatility of his players, and despite dealing with injuries, they finished as a top-ten offense.
Sean Payton: B
Dennis Allen: A-