Saints: Lack of depth at skill positions ironic given Sean Payton’s background

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Deonte Harris (11), wide receiver Marquez Callaway (1) and wide receiver Ty Montgomery (88) - Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Deonte Harris (11), wide receiver Marquez Callaway (1) and wide receiver Ty Montgomery (88) - Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

It wasn’t long ago that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said he was happy with his wide receiver room. You think he’s still happy? He couldn’t be after seeing that unit have an abysmal performance in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons at home last week.

There were dropped passes galore, squandering a number of decent throws from incumbent starting quarterback Trevor Siemian. Despite the sloppy play, Siemian still managed to toss for 249 yards and 2 touchdowns and even had his team in position to win late in the fourth quarter before an Atlanta comeback.

But that latter part is beside the point. What really stands out is the lack of depth at offensive skill positions across the board for the Saints, namely at receiver and running back.

It’s ironic that Sean Payton, doing a decent coaching job given the adversity he and his team have had to endure (including a brutal injury blow to Jameis Winston), has been rather content with his less than stellar weapons on offense. This is especially true given his offensive background.

Sean Payton’s background should mean Saints have better weapons

Remember the days of Marques Colston, Pierre Thomas, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson and later Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham? Back then, the Saints were never shorthanded on offensive personnel around Drew Brees. And those offenses greatly benefitted from having playmakers all over the field (and a Hall of Fame quarterback and coach).

Even during the 2017-2020 run, Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Alvin Kamara, Emmanuel Sanders, Jared Cook and others gave the Saints a solid group of offensive weapons at different times.

Now, though? Third-stringer Trevor Siemian is throwing to a cast of position players including Deonte Harris, Tre’Quan Smith, Ty Montgomery, Marquez Callaway, Juwan Johnson, Adam Trautman and Kevin White. Talk about a step back.

Alvin Kamara’s knee injury takes away this offense’s most reliable playmaker, which only exacerbates the lack of depth already present. Recently acquired Mark Ingram is now the team’s top running back, and that’s less than encouraging at this point in the season.

There’s no doubt that this group of Saints on offense is the worst (talent-wise) under Sean Payton, and there doesn’t appear to be reinforcements on the way.

We laud Payton as an offensive genius, and that he is, but even for someone like him, it’s surely a challenge to run a dynamic offense without much legitimate depth at key positions.

It’s not like the Saints’ head coach had to make things difficult for himself, either. He’s had chances to draft wide receivers, or sign players in free agency like Odell Beckham Jr. Of course, the Saints’ cap situation is less than ideal, but that hasn’t proven to be an obstacle for this team.

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If the Saints offense wants to return to respectability, it needs to bolster its depth across the board, because success with this group will be hard to come by, even with Sean Payton calling the shots.