Injuries cannot be blamed for Saints' meltdown -- This one was on coaching

Leigh Oleszczak
New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages
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The New Orleans Saints held a 16-3 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 5:31 remaining in the game and somehow went on to lose 17-16. While fans have been over the Dennis Allen experiment for a while now, the front office could easily use the "too many injuries" excuse when it comes to keeping him in 2023.

While I understand that the Saints have been injury-prone this year, injuries were not the reason they lost this game. Injuries were not the reason the defense crumbled and allowed the Bucs to score 14 points in under six minutes. Injuries were not the reason Mark Ingram foolishly ran out of bounds one yard shy of the first-down marker which would have helped the Saints run down the clock. Injuries were not the reason the Saints played it safe and kicked field goals instead of being aggressive and trying to end the game.

No, injuries cannot be blamed for the Saints' failures this week. This loss is squarely on Dennis Allen and the coaching staff.

Saints coaching staff fails the team in Week 13 meltdown

Let's start with the offensive issues. First and foremost, Andy Dalton was one of the few bright spots of this loss and played well in primetime for once. Aside from him and Rashid Shaheed, however, the offense was a mess. When the team did get in the red zone, Allen chose to play it safe rather than going for field goals and that's ultimately what lost him the game.

When a team is facing Tom Brady -- I don't care how old he is or how bad his current team is -- you can't play it safe. Step on the gas and be aggressive. The Saints didn't do that.

After picking off Brady (only the third interception of the season for New Orleans), the Saints had 4th-and-Goal on the Tampa Bay 19-yard line and opted not to go for it. It was right before the half and had they kept their foot on the gas and converted, they'd have had a shot to add seven points before half time and pretty much close the door on the game.

But nope -- Allen went the conservative route and went for the field goal. Big mistake but not the only one from this game.

After the Bucs fumbled early in the second half and seemingly everything was going New Orleans' way for once, but once again, Allen chose to go for the three points rather than go for it on 4th-and-Goal on the Bucs ' 3-yard line.

Maybe those six points turn into zero points but at least the team wouldn't have had regrets in going for it with their season on the line.

Play-calling was also a joke in this game. Seriously, what the heck was that final offensive series from the Saints? Alvin Kamara, who can't run more than five yards these days, ran on first down for what felt like the 800th time and got three yards. It wasn't working all night so sure, let's dial it up here when it hasn't worked all evening.

Andy Dalton was sacked on the next play and then Taysom Hill dropped what should have been a first down. I could excuse this drive if it weren't for one thing -- one MASSIVE thing. For whatever reason, the coaching staff decided not to have any receivers except for a nobody on that second-down sack.

Why I ask -- with the game AND THE SEASON on the line -- do you take out your best receivers on this play? Why wasn't Chris Olave on the field? Why wasn't Jarvis Landry -- who has been disappointing but is still a starter -- on the field? Where was Rashid Shaheed who was dominating the Bucs all night? WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?

It's simple -- Coaching is why this happened. It's why this entire season has gone so poorly.

Sometimes, you can point to injuries as to why a team is struggling. For the Rams this year, yes, that's why they're disappointing in 2022. For the Chargers, yes, that's why they're disappointing (but also yes, their coach stinks). For the Saints, however, injuries are not to blame for how bad they are and this loss proved just that.

Next. Early Head Coach Candidates to Consider in 2023. dark

This loss falls squarely on the shoulders of Dennis Allen and the Saints coaching staff. Everyone needs to go.

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