Talk is cheap when it comes to many aspects of life, and we hear it more so when it pertains to your favorite team in the NFL.
“Iron sharper iron”, “we want a quality player”, and “we’re committed to winning” are just a few of the tidbits we hear when it comes to the offseason preparation.
Some teams actually follow their philosophy while others use it more of a hushpuppy for an angry or agitated fanbase.
For the New Orleans Saints in 2016, they committed last season to changing their way of thinking; along with the roster, to reroute the path they had diverged off of that brought them to a Super Bowl and almost guaranteed playoff appearances in the several years that followed.
In the past few seasons, the Saints have tried to emulate the blueprint of teams like the New England Patriots and even the defense of the Seattle Seahawks.
But the picture became very clear that it isn’t always a 100% guarantee that just because you feel like you have all the same pieces, doesn’t mean they’ll fit the puzzle that you have.
Nov 15, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) and cornerback Richard Sherman (25) join hands in a huddle before a NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
For example: while the Saints tried to copy the Seahawks “Legion Of Boom”, it quickly became the “Legion of Whom?” — with no sign of hope in sight of solidifying their secondary.
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And that’s just one issue among the many that head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis have vowed to continue to fix.
It started with the several coaching changes or reshuffling that has occurred recently, in an effort to rejuvenate the era of competition and attitude the team once had.
Bret Ingalls, who coached the offensive line, was the only coach not brought back to the staff and considering the punishment quarterback Drew Brees took in 2015, it’s not that big of a shocker.
Two names that were I believe a strong addition is Dan Campbell (asst. head coach / TE coach) and Aaron Glenn (secondary coach).
Payton is familiar with both since he coached them as players, and both will bring a good perspective since they have played the game at the positions they’ll be coaching.
Hey Gene — you said that the Saints are serious about changing; but yet guys like Joe Vitt, Bill Johnson, and Greg McMahon are still on the coaching staff?
Nov 8, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints punt returner Marcus Murphy and special teams coordinator Greg McMahon before a game against the Tennessee Titans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
That’s very true and I share the views of many that feel that the three-headed ‘Hydra of Horrendous Coaches’ need to be lopped off in order for the Saints to cleanse themselves and start fresh.
But I also see that drastic of a change for three major position groups could also set the Saints schedule of progression back in some ways.
Hey, I’m all for former Saints linebackers Jonathan Vilma or Scott Fujita coming in to replace someone like Vitt; but apparently they are still enjoying retirement.
Plus I’ve heard former players like linebacker Scott Shanle give words of praise to Joe Vitt recently; as well as current ones like punter Thomas Morstead, who went to bat for McMahon.
Another change that appears to be moving forward for the Saints is their roster construction as compared to years past.
We’ve seen the team attempt to rely on “hitting big” in free agency only to miss even bigger with the payoff that isn’t equal to the player’s contract.
The Saints began the process of trying to strengthen the roster via the draft more by hiring Jeff Ireland; who is known for eyeing potential playmakers at the collegiate level, and letting some of their other college scouts go last year to get a fresh view on things.
While it remains to be seen how the 2015 draft class will stack up, so far it looks promising for the future and something to further build on.
As NOLA.com’s Evan Woodbury mentioned yesterday, “the entire staff of coaches, scouts and personnel executives were here watching practice” at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. — after he noted that last year, most of the staff didn’t even bother making the trip.
Loomis also said in a press conference that the staff will meet with all the players at the Senior Bowl either as a group or individually; with Payton rounding that out by mentioning it would help them further by the the time the NFL Scouting Combine rolls around.
In other words, Saints scouts and coaching staff will be using their time to take notes now, so that it will allow them to to be that much more expeditious when conducting interviews at the Scouting Combine or Pro Days of selected players they’re showing interest in.
The Saints are notorious for their past failed drafts where it left many asking if the team had done ANY homework on the players they selected, after they didn’t pan out after a few years or in some cases — when the team outright released some even before their rookie seasons had even started, essentially making them “wasted picks”.
While these few changes might be a drop in the bucket, I guess the old adage of “Rome wasn’t built in a day” can be applied here to spark a sign of hope for the organization.
As I said before, talk is cheap and eventually everyone has to pay the piper — but if this current Saints regime is unable to “get it right” this time around, then they might end up not having many more songs to dance to……