On the Field and Off, Saints Are Becoming Painful to Watch


That magical year that doesn’t seem so long ago in the minds of long-suffering Who Dats where the lovable losers became constant contenders in the NFL.

It was an organization that was brought from the back pages of despair and placed squarely on the front page of success by a no-nonsense head coach in Sean Payton and a seemingly mathematical salary cap genius in general manager Mickey Loomis.

The offense scored at will on opposing teams either on the ground or through the air on the golden arm of a quarterback whom nobody wanted and the defense hunted like a pack of mad dogs and swarmed like angry hornets whose nest had been foolishly tampered with.

Both units were comprised of castaways like the aforementioned gunslinger in Drew Brees and underrated cornerbacks such as Jabari Greer who were leaders on and off the field.

Oct 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints fans in the second half of their game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The players were blue collar and a true family that not only played for their city, they embraced every aspect of New Orleans and the people did the same in return.

The Saints franchise drew parallels to the New England Patriots whose own head coach, Bill Belichick, was cut from the same Bill Parcells coaching tree and adhered to the same mantra of all the staff and players to just, “Do Your Job”.

Yes the Saints franchise was headed to many years of success it seemed but as of late that success which was a blazing bonfire has turned into a smoldering ember with ash littering the ground around it.

Fans and local writers have tried to put their finger on what exactly happened and what was to blame for the run of success that came to a screeching halt:

“Roger Goodell screwed us”

“The Saints are spending too much money on players”

“Man — shower that guy with money and get him in here a.k.a. Make It Happen Loomis”

“They need to cut him right now cause he can’t block/catch/run worth a …”

“Why did they let that guy go?  He’s balling out with (fill in other team’s name)”

“The Saints draft picks are garbage the past few years”

I could go on and on with the list of what people think is the defining reason for the lack of stability with the Saints franchise right now but the answer is pretty simple: all of it.

Sep 20, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterbacks Drew Brees (9) and Luke McCown (7) on the bench in the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won, 23-19.Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

That’s right, the team that fought so hard to shed their image of not doing things the winning way; has suddenly donned it again like a cheap suit that makes polyester look like Egyptian cotton.

Everything that made the franchise into a Super Bowl champion is now being undone with bad draft picks, bad salary cap management, and players who are motivated to play for things other than each other and their city.

Draft analysts such as WWL 870’s Mike Detillier could dedicate a sole radio spot to dissect the woes brought on by the Saints scouting department with draft picks and free agent acquisitions, on top of the money being shelled out like monopoly cash on player investments that there is no return on.

We’ve been fooled into thinking that “Oh those one or two guys are the problem” or “Get rid of this coach or hire that one and the team will bounce back” will be the decisive fix-it to right the ship.

In reality there is so much that is wrong or, better yet, broken with this franchise there really isn’t one, two, or even three things that will glue everything back to what it was supposed to be or could be.

The words “rebuilding mode” have been used many times since the start of this season and it was met with some resistance from Saints fans, but in reality that’s exactly what we’re seeing happen right before our eyes.

Sep 20, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints fans react from the stands against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Buccaneers won 26-19. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Fans are angry and they have every right to be after seeing the top of the mountain to quickly be sent crashing to the bottom of the heap with little warning.

It was sad to see yesterday that despite multiple news outlets reporting the firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Payton claimed no decision had been made and insisted to the local media that they would be the first to know.

Yet the signs were there it was a done deal:  a scheduled open locker room session that was switched unexpectedly with a delayed press conference, Ryan scheduled to be on a local radio show was abruptly canceled, the media not being allowed outside a small area with threats if they left the area they’d be asked to leave, and then the open locker room session being abruptly cancelled as players hurriedly departed.

Usually Payton is very swift with the media but his denial that Ryan had been fired was followed hours later by the admission on WWL 870 that they had indeed fired him and he said the timing just wasn’t right to discuss at the press conference.

It reminds me of the infamous, and hilarious, Rick James comedy sketch on Chapelle’s Show where Eddie Murphy’s brother Charlie told the tale of when James was stomping his muddy feet on his brother’s expensive couch, which James tried to deny.

Rick James:  “Now why would I put my feet on his (Eddie Murphy’s) couch?  Yeah I put my feet on his couch…”

It was a tangled Christmas tree light ball-of-mess that was compounded by Payton pretty much sidestepping questions concerning an obvious cheap shot by cornerback Brandon Browner on an offensive lineman during the game against the Washington Redskins.

Aug 13, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive back Brandon Browner (39) sits on the bench after being injured in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens in a preseason NFL football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

All in all it was a poor attempt by the Saints to make chicken salad out of… well — you know.

The Stonewall Jackson attitude of the Saints has been replaced by an all out Chinese Fire Drill and it’s hard to watch an honor role student making D’s with about as much effort.

Just years ago if you had asked me if the Saints could find the stability and the resilience to finish the season out strong, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash thinking that they couldn’t.

But much like a punch drunk boxer who thinks he can go another round, I think the Saints can give a valiant effort; but in the end it’s going to be another long offseason.

Right now, this organization and its product out on the field and off of it, are becoming painful to watch…..