A complete and thorough overhaul. That’s a broad statement, but considering where the New Orleans Saints are at the moment, it’s pretty much the answer that encompasses the situation in which the franchise finds itself needing at the moment.
With a 4-7 record, the future doesn’t look to pretty after taking a skull-dragging from the Houston Texans who, while are on a roll; were ranked at the middle of the pack on offense and put up 362 yards of offense this past Sunday — and only allowed New Orleans two field goals as their scores.
While no one expected a miracle turnaround from the newly helmed Dennis Allen defense; they still appeared lackadaisical in their performance with little to no energy, which may have been in part from being on the field for so long.
Nov 8, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Brandon Browner (39) reacts with free safety Jairus Byrd (31) after a penalty during the second half of a game against the Tennessee Titans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Titans defeated the Saints 34-28 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Even an interception by safety Jarius Byrd couldn’t cheer up some, especially right after the turnover when cornerback Brandon Browner couldn’t seem to help himself and committed a penalty that brought the ball back.
With the perfect Carolina Panthers coming into town, some die-hard fans think that the Saints can spoil the Panthers undefeated season or dare dream that it can start the Saints on a “run the table” streak for the next five games.
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It’s a pretty notion and it is “possible” that a upset over the Panthers could happen, but as far as running the table?
That is completely absurd if you think this current squad can string together five wins in a row.
And please don’t give me the “Carolina did it last year” theory because a 7-8-1 record won’t win the division this year or even get you into the postseason.
Heck, even if the Saints were to “run the table”, I don’t even believe a 9-7 record gets them anything other than a bad spot to pick in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft.
The Saints most likely will finish at best 7-9 for the season, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they finished 5-11 to stumble towards the finish line.
It’s obvious that changes need to be made at the conclusion of this season but what are the main areas of attention that need to be addressed?
Nov 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton against the Houston Texans during the first quarter of a game at NRG Stadium. The Texans defeated the Saints 24-6. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Head coach Sean Payton constantly has said after every loss this season that it goes back to him and the coaches; and has used that analogy that when kids are being bad, after a point you have to look at the parents.
Well, that fits here because a microscope does need to be placed on the coaches, especially Payton.
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Now I’ve heard the argument that there isn’t the talent on the roster that once was there, and I can agree with that — up to a point.
There are other teams that manage to squeeze the talent out of their draft picks and undrafted free agents, that have just as much or even not enough talent as the Saints.
Scrape away that layer and there are people like linebackers and assistant head coach Joe Vitt, defensive line coach Bill Johnson, and special teams coach Greg McMahon that should have probably been gone for some time now; for the simple fact of the lack of development of the talent given to them.
Young players like linebackers Hau’oli Kikaha and Stephone Anthony have “potential” from this recent draft class, but what will their ceiling be under the current staff is the big concern.
Speaking of draft class, the scouting department was the latest to get an overhaul in the offseason with the inclusion of Jeff Ireland and so far it seems 2015 was a nice get as far as draft choices.
But a close eye needs to be kept to make sure it continues on that path and not the road to perdition like it has been the past few years.
In the end though, Payton will need to be the one to change his way of thinking; and once again that’s a credit to Ireland for this recent draft, otherwise the leeway could sink the team even further.
May 29, 2014; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis during organized team activities at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
General manager Mickey Loomis has also been called into the spotlight, for the recent decline of the franchise — although it’s Payton who technically makes the calls on draft picks and free agents.
Still with Loomis, he is the “money man” and determines what is feasible and not to acquire the services of players like Byrd and running back C.J. Spiller, with the outcome of the investment outweighing the contract placed on the table.
While Byrd has been given a pass of sorts by film watching guru’s due to him being used “incorrectly”, he still hasn’t made the impact envisioned when first signed as a priority free agent and neither has Spiller who in the Texans game had one rushing attempt for -2 yards and 2 receptions for 8 yards.
Combine those contracts with ones like former linebacker Junior Galette’s that has more dead money than what LSU boosters were rumored to be willing to pay to get rid of head coach Les Miles, and there’s no question something has to change in the front office.
Arguably unless the Saints don’t win another game for the season there most probably won’t be any “big” changes so to speak and even then I don’t see people like Payton or Loomis being given the heave-ho since, like Payton is with Vitt and others, owner Tom Benson is loyal to a fault with his staff.
A no-brainer will be changes to the roster after what I feel will be a serious evaluation on not just defense, but on the offensive side of the ball.
Nov 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) motions to the offensive line during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. The Texans defeated the Saints 24-6. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
No I’m not saying they are getting rid of quarterback Drew Brees, but they will likely overhaul the entire offensive line as well as the receivers and tight ends.
Center Max Unger and offensive tackle Terron Armstead are the only constants on the line with receivers Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead along with tight end Benjamin Watson being his only viable receiving threats, and I use the word “threats” simply in name only as all three have had their lowlights as well.
Defensive changes will really depend on who they bring in and what scheme the newly appointed defensive coordinator will want to use.
My gut is telling me Payton may stick with Dennis Allen just because of familiarity and if that’s the case I see a revamped secondary and a “new look” to the pass rushers and really the front seven because, well, there absolutely has to be.
Will wholesale changes happen for the Saints going into 2016?
Without question there will be but the biggest question should be: Are they the right ones, at the right time, for the right reasons?
Otherwise if it’s the changes that we’ve seen so far with players and coaches, then it’s merely like a child pushing his vegetables around on his plate to make it look like he ate them…..