No team in the NFL has dealt with more adversity this season than the New Orleans Saints. No team.
- Losing your starting quarterback to an ACL injury? Check.
- Losing your star wide receiver to an ankle injury and most of your offense to other injuries? Check.
- COVID ravaging the team? Check.
Yet through it all, the Saints miraculously find themselves in playoff position heading into the final week of the 2021 season, at 8-8. They need a win at Atlanta and a 49ers loss to the Rams to make that happen.
The Saints have used a record 57 players this season in various capacities, but that hasn’t stopped them from being competitive in games. Just look at this insane stat to get an idea of what I’m talking about.
Insane stat shows Saints’ resiliency and good coaching in 2021 despite adversity
Out of any team in the last 11 years to field 50 or more players in a season, the 2021 Saints have won more games than only two teams in that span. And the most of any team having to field more than 55, because, well, no team ordinarily has to field that many in a season.
Ian Book said it best before his first career start against the Miami Dolphins:
"“There’s a million excuses out there, is what I’d say, but we’re going to use none of them. We’re just going to go out there and play. We’re all professionals, and when your name is called, you have to go out there and perform.”"
No excuses. Coach Sean Payton expects his team to perform week in and week out, and given the circumstances, it’s fair to say the Saints have weathered the storm better than most would have.
That mentality is a class in resiliency and grit, which the Saints certainly do not lack in 2021. Should they make the playoffs this season, they probably aren’t for long, but what a triumph that would be.