Kill the Head and the Body Dies…Time to Talk About Firing Sean Payton
You may notice I used the headline “kill the head and the body dies.” Those are the famous words of former Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams on a recording used as evidence during the bounty investigation of the Saints.
The significance of that quote and why I am using it here is because there is someone who the Saints should have canned after last season. But because the Saints have won a Super Bowl, this person gets nothing but sunshine blown up his ass every season and gets a pass on his shortcomings.
That person is none other than head coach Sean Payton.
Before you move any further, know that this is coming from a Saints fan who is pissed off and a Saints fan who is sick and tired of an inept head coach that no one is willing to call out.
First and foremost, I know the season is young and there are still 15 games to go. That means a lot can happen.
This team is no different than the previous three…take that to the bank. The Saints are on a collision course for another mediocre 7-9 or 8-8ish season.
Prior to the season, we heard about the new and improved defense because of how well they did in four meaningless games against players who most likely aren’t even on 53-man rosters.
Funny…because the people shouting that were probably the same ones who said “it’s just the preseason” the last two years where the Saints couldn’t muster up a single win during the exhibition games.
After the lackluster performance against Sam Bradford (Sam Fucking Bradford) and the Minnesota Vikings in the season opener (Monday Night no less), we hear Sean Payton, Drew Brees and company cast it off as no big deal. They will “figure it out.” This team knows the formula to winning and they just look at the tape and correct the mistakes.
Oh really? I have heard that same line for the last four fucking seasons. When does it get fixed Sean? Know why I am pissed? Because these fans and media members take everything you throw at them and actually believe you. I don’t.
For the record, my mission this year is to get blocked by the Saints and Sean Payton twitter accounts before the season ends. Buckle up. After every single loss, I am going to bombard those accounts with nothing but #FireSeanPayton tweets.
If there is one thing I can’t stand, it is people who get a pass for not doing their job, but have the arrogance to call out those who are doing their job.
The arrogance of Sean Payton wore thin on me two years ago and I am sick of seeing him represent the team I love on the sidelines. People can say I am frontrunner because I bash the team and cheer for others. Like I said in my top 5 bandwagon fan column, give me a reason to cheer.
Fire Sean Payton because if you kill the head, the body dies. Once the Saints eliminate Payton from the equation, you can start over and stop pretending that this team is ready for another playoff run.
There was a time where Sean Payton was one of the top coaches in the league. There was also a time where people used pigeon carriers to send messages to our friends and family. Gone are those times.
Unfortunately, there comes a time where great things run their course. Payton’s tenure as the Saints head coach is behind us. That is OK. Payton still gave the Saints a Super Bowl. Now you might wonder why I have so much animosity toward him…
The reason is simple. Arrogance wears thin when you can’t adequately DO YOUR JOB.
After every loss or rumor, Payton attacks the people asking the questions. Just see when he was originally asked about Brandin Cooks being on the move, he denied it tooth and nail and belittled the reporter for even asking the question. Clearly, they knew something was brewing and your organization didn’t hide it well. Where there is smoke, there is fire. I firmly believe that.
This is a call to the New Orleans media, stop babying this grown ass man and attack him. Attack him for being bad at his job like he attacks you all for being bad at yours. Quite frankly, he is right about most of you. Hence the reason, they don’t attack him. They also laugh when he dishes the insults.
Give me a press pass because I will have a field day after a loss. Luckily for me, it is not my meal ticket to feed my family. So even if things ended poorly, it doesn’t end with me losing a paycheck.
One of the things I love about the media up north in New York, Boston and other major cities, they don’t take that crap. You better produce wins if you want to act like that. If you ever step on a reporters toes in a press room, all of them are coming after you. Before someone screams Bill Belichick, he gets a pass because he actually wins football games…more than anyone. Winning solves problems. Winning gives you immunity…until the winning stops.
Every single year we hear about how this team is poised to get back to the playoffs. Every year we hear how the Saints defense needs to step up. They are the sole reason the Saints can’t seem to get back in the hunt.
At the end of the day, when your defense is consistently bad, that falls on the head coach. The offense can be top five in the league every season (all but 2010) and hoist the number one offense six times all it wants, but your job as head coach is to win football games. In doing so, that means find a way to make up for a bad defense or get better players.
The coaching carousel that has taken place in New Orleans under Sean Payton isn’t a result of guys getting a promotion for head coach. In fact, the opposite is true. It is a result of guys being shoved out the door. At some point you have to turn and say, maybe it is the head coach. Just maybe.
A trend I notice with every single coordinator under Payton is regression…
Gary Gibbs (2006-08) Defensive Rankings By Year (Total Defense, Pass, Run, Scoring)
- 2006 – 11th Total, 3rd Pass 23rd Run, 13th Scoring
- 2007 – 26th Total, 30th Pass, 13th Run, 25th Scoring
- 2008 – 23rd Total, 23rd Pass, 16th Run, 26th Scoring
I want you to take a good hard look at those numbers for me. In 2006, the defense was pretty stout. They didn’t give up much against the pass and stopped opponents from getting to the end zone often. What happened the last two? Probably Jason David in all honesty. But, look at how bad that defense was in the final two seasons.
Gregg Williams (2009-11) Defensive Rankings By Year (Total, Pass, Run, Scoring)
- 2009 – 25th Total, 26th Pass, 21st Run, 20th Scoring
- 2010 – 4th Total, 4th Pass, 16th Run, 7th Scoring
- 2011 – 24th Total, 30th Pass, 12th Run, 13th Scoring
Gregg Williams comes in with almost the same unit, give or take a few pieces, and turns them around. 2009 was predicated on turnovers. They knew how to make plays on the ball, so those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Bend, but don’t break was the game they played. In 2010, that defense was disgusting! Especially when you consider the Saints offense turned the ball over a ton. I still say 2011 was the best Saints team EVER. That offense did whatever the hell they wanted, which I will talk more about later. The reason those numbers don’t look nearly as good the previous year is because the offense scored so quickly that teams were playing catch up by the second quarter. People refused to run on the Saints because they HAD to pass. Hence the reason the Saints surrendered a league low 21.9 carries per game. Make no mistake, that 2011 defense was fantastic. When you’re going into prevent in the 4th quarter, yards will pile up.
Rob Ryan (2013-15) Defensive Rankings By Year (Total, Pass, Run, Scoring)
- 2013 – 4th Total, 2nd Pass, 19th Run, 4th Scoring
- 2014 – 31st Total, 25th Pass, 29th Run, 28th Scoring
- 2015 – 31st Total, 31st Pass, 31st Run, 32nd Scoring
Rob Ryan started strong with the black and gold putting together a solid first season, top 5 in three defensive categories. The problem is, it was short lived. In 2014, it didn’t take long for us to see the animosity on the sidelines between Ryan and Payton. Notice the trend that for one year, the defense was great. Then, it began to swing the other direction. It ended horribly for Ryan.
Dennis Allen (16-Present) Defensive Rankings By Year (Total, Pass, Run, Scoring)
- 2016 – 27th Total, 32nd Pass, 14th Run, 31st Scoring
Dennis Allen took over in 2015, but we won’t put that season on him. Notice the defense had no change in numbers for the most part last season. His story is still being written. But game one of 2017 looked no different.
The major trend with most of these coordinators is that they do well year one and then become awful. It happened with Gibbs. It happened with Ryan. Ryan’s bad defense continues with Allen.
When things go south after year one for these guys minus Allen (sucked year one), it is always the DC’s fault.
The only coordinator who brought fire to the defense was Gregg Williams. We know how that ended. For the record, Payton knew what was happening and he tried to use Williams as his scapegoat for the bounty scandal. You’re the head coach, but you didn’t know? Right. I will pretend that is true.
Life after Gregg Williams has not been pleasant. Maybe that is karma knocking on the door. The year Payton returned was good (11-5), but the last three not so much after three straight 7-9 seasons with a top-5 quarterback. Not good.
Sean Payton Prior to Bountygate
- 6 Seasons
- Record: 62-34
- Winning Percentage: 65%
- 4 Playoff Appearances
- 4 Winning Seasons
- 2 NFC Championship Appearances
- Super Bowl Champion
- Playoff Record: 5-3
Sean Payton After Bounty Gate
- 4 Seasons (Suspended 2012)
- Record: 32-32
- Winning Percentage: 50%
- 1 Playoff Appearance
- 1 Winning Season
- Playoff Record: 1-1
Sports have one simple rule. That rule is not what have you done? But, what have you done for me, lately?
As I said earlier, Payton is living off the past. He hasn’t been the same guy as he was before bounty gate. I miss the guy who believed in his players. I miss the guy who had a fire in his eyes on the sideline. I miss the guy who brought a consistent product to the field. What the Saints have now is an underachieving and arrogant guy running the show.
They can say Adrian Peterson yelling at him was nothing. “It was all part of the emotion of the game.” Say it until you are blue in the face. Ingram said the same thing last year. Again, where this smoke, there is fire.
While I am on the subject of running backs, here is the real issue to the Saints on why they find themselves on the losing end of more games than not lately.
They are totally unbalanced offensively. I know the defense is bad. Know how to mask that? Run the ball.
Fans seem to buy the fallacy that the Saints can’t run the ball because they are constantly playing catch-up because their defense opens like flood gates. That is hardly the case. Being down two or three scores in the first half does not warrant an air raid assault. You will throw yourself into a hole just as quick as you can pull yourself out.
When the Saints do get behind, even when they have coughed the ball up multiple times, fans and media head to the defense and place blame. The defense has certainly collapsed at the end of games including the 2011 NFC Divisional Round against the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. Fucking Vernon Davis.
However, they have not been so bad for 10 years where the Saints should be throwing themselves into a game.
I went and looked at every single regular season match up under Sean Payton and here are the games where they got down early as a result of bad defense, strictly bad defense. This list does not include poor offensive performances that included a multitude of turnovers. Even if the Saints punt, that still gives their opponent unfavorable field position in most situations. So I included the games where the offense simply wasn’t clicking, but they were still able to pin opponents. The list is solely based on bad defensive games where the Saints were forced to play catch-up by halftime.
- 2006 – Baltimore
- 2007 – Indianapolis, Tampa Bay, Chicago
- 2008 – Carolina
- 2009 – Dallas
- 2010 – None
- 2011 – Green Bay, Houston
- 2013 – Seattle
- 2014 – Atlanta
- 2015 – Philadelphia, Washington
- 2016 – Atlanta
Over the course of 10 years, we are talking about 13 games where I classified them as playing from behind and having to “catch-up.”
You’re probably wondering how I classified that. If they were down by three or more scores at half. Again, that doesn’t include the offense turning it over so much where they were handing their opponent points.
The reality is, the Saints are so damn quick to abandoned the run. I just don’t understand why. Your team isn’t so bad to where you have to do that. Yet, they continue to do so. Sean Payton keeps talking about this winning formula…look at the last 10 years you dunce. Run the damn ball.
I am not saying take the ball out of Brees’ hands because that would be asinine. But, utilize your run game more and let him thrive off the play-action. I am literally talking about the running the ball 1-3 more times per game. Certainly, that is manageable. Do your best to maintain a 60/40 pass v run. Instead, the Saints constantly fall below the 8-ball in that regard.
If you are able to do that, you can minimize a bad defense, which they clearly have, by keeping them off the field. You can control the line of scrimmage and control the clock. That is why the Dallas Cowboys win. They eat the clock and keep their below average defense on the sideline.
In fact, the Saints have only managed to fall within the 60/40 threshold just three of Payton’s 10 seasons (2006, 2009, 2011). Notice something about those seasons? It was their three best.
When The Saints Maintain a Healthy 60/40 Split in Offensive Play-Calling
- Record: 36-12
- Win Percentage: 75%
- 3 Playoff Appearances
- Playoff Record: 5-2
- Super Bowl
The last two seasons, I noticed the linebackers playing 5-7 yards off the line because they know the Saints are going to pass. The Saints will get theirs against you, trust me. It just won’t result in wins. Teams have figured that out. The numbers say so…
When the Saints Run the Ball Less Than 40%
- Record: 58-54
- Win Percentage: 52%
- 2 Playoff Appearances
- Playoff Record: 1-2
Passing is glamorous and flashy, but it simply doesn’t lead to wins. Diving into these numbers on the Saints a little further, I took the liberty and looking at every single game under Payton and here are the results.
- Saints Record Throwing 40+ passes: 31-48
- Saints Record Throwing 39 or less: 63-16
- Saints Record Running 25+ times: 72-15
- Saints Record Running 24 or less: 22-50
I understand I don’t sit in film rooms or see what they see on tape, but get some results. If you’re not getting the results, this is what I have. Running the ball wins football games. No matter how much of a passing league this is, it gets the job done.
In 2006, the Saints rush attack was very pedestrian at 19th. Deuce McAllister was passed his prime and Reggie Bush was a rookie. However, they made teams stay committed as they finished 12th in number of rushing plays that season, while still holding the number one pass offense.
In 2009, they had the sixth best rushing attack with their three headed monster of Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush. They also finished in the top 10 in rushing attempts.
Then in 2011, they had another season where they finished sixth in rushing yards. However, they finished 20th in attempts. As I said earlier, that offense was like a damn video game. They averaged 4.9 yards per carry so they were scoring quick.
Even if the running game isn’t getting any mojo, stick to it. It keeps defenses honest. There have been a number of games they have won where the run game flat out sucked.
In 2006, the play calling was 32 pass and 35 rushes against Tampa Bay. Those 35 rushes produced a whopping 1.4 yards per carry and they won. It is not uncommon for them to win games where they are not successful pounding it out. Last season alone, they beat San Diego grinding out 2.4 ypc and Seattle where they averaged 3.5
In terms of the NFL as a whole and how much running the football means to the league, I checked the number of playoff teams who ranked in the top 12 in rushing attempts. This doesn’t necessarily mean they ran it effectively. They just utilized their backfield. I used the number 12 because that is how many teams make the postseason.
- 2006 – 9/12
- 2007 – 8/12
- 2008 – 8/12 (Patriots went 11-5, missed playoffs, finished top 12)
- 2009 – 5/12
- 2010 – 6/12 (Giants went 10-6, missed playoffs, finished top 12)
- 2011 – 7/12
- 2013 – 9/12
- 2014 – 7/12 (Eagles went 10-6, missed playoffs, finished top 12)
- 2015- 7/12
- 2016 – 5/12
I don’t expect the Saints to reach the Super Bowl every single year. I just want competence and consistency. The reason I mentioned those three teams above is because they won double-digit games. If the Saints went 10-6, even 9-7 and missed the playoffs, so be it. Winning seasons are what I want. Give yourself a chance to get there.
They literally have a top five quarterback and they have only made the playoffs five times in 11 seasons with Drew Brees.
We like to mention him in the same breath as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Combined, those guys have MISSED the playoffs just four times. Yeah, yeah, yeah, their teams are better.
The Colts were a dumpster fire for the last few years. The year after Manning left, it was clear. Brady has adapted to his offense year after year which is remarkable. Rodgers is not a human being. His defense sucks and he played with a receiver as his starting running back last season. They all have had their uphill battles. Yet, they somehow win.
Everything I mentioned in the column boils down to the head coach. This team can’t win because the offense, while flashy, is wildly inconsistent. They have not run an effective 4-minute offense since 2011. They have never been THAT great defensively, except under Williams. Ryan and Gibbs had their one season before falling flat.
At what point do the excuses stop and we start pointing the finger to the man running the show, Sean Payton?
Every year, fans get their hopes up and are left utterly disappointed. This isn’t a fluke. This is a trend. No improvements in three years and about to be four. They signed an every down back, but they give him six touches against his former team. WOW! Good move.
I will be the guy sitting here saying I told you so until Sean Payton gets fired which probably won’t be until Tom Benson kicks the bucket. I am not saying that to be cold or callous, but it is the truth.
For some reason, winning a Super Bowl has given Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis immunity for continually fucking up at their jobs.
I, for one, am over it and saw it coming two years ago. This is the Saints squad you have defended. Keep the excuses coming. I will be tuning in to the Browns season because I am jumping on that bandwagon before they get real good, just like I did with Seattle.