Unapologetically Me

The Truth About Sean Payton and Where The Saints Go From Here

Happy Retirement to Sean Payton.

He goes down as the best coach in Saints history, not even close. He will undoubtedly get inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame and be part of the Ring of Honor. There is no question about it.

Payton finishes his career 152-89 (9-8 Playoffs), 3 NFC Championship Appearances, 7 NFC South Titles, Coach of the Year and of course a Super Bowl.

He will forever be immortalized in New Orleans.

He became the Saints Head Coach after Katrina and just four years later coached and won the first and only Super Bowl in franchise history. The best years of the Saints get put under his belt and his direction. The Saints fan in me, which is pretty much gone, dead and buried at this point, says thank you. The football fan says something entirely different.

The dirty secret about Sean Payton and his run with New Orleans…it’s overrated for underachievement.

If great coaches like Marty Schottenheimer, Bill Parcells or Dan Reeves often get classified as such…so does Payton.

Overrated doesn’t mean he isn’t good. That doesn’t mean he sucks. It means somewhere a large group of people are looking at him through rose colored lenses or a better light than they should. Enter New Orleans.

There is of course the emotional attachment to him taken a team of a broken and battered city making them a beacon of hope. I get that. But, that doesn’t translate to wins (on the field) that matter.

Before going any further, here is the year by year breakdown…

  • 2006 – 10-6, Lost NFC Championship
  • 2007 – 7-9
  • 2008 – 8-8
  • 2009 – 13-3, Super Bowl Champions
  • 2010 – 11-5, Lost Wild Card
  • 2011 – 13-3, Lost Divisional
  • 2012 – Suspended
  • 2013 – 11-5, Lost Divisional
  • 2014 – 7-9
  • 2015 – 7-9
  • 2016 – 7-9
  • 2017 – 11-5, Lost Divisional
  • 2018 – 13-3, Lost NFC Championship
  • 2019 – 13-3, Lost Wild Card
  • 2020 – 12-4, Lost Divisional
  • 2021 – 9-8

Mike McCarthy gets knocked for only having one Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers. Sean Payton deserves the same treatment for the lack of playoff success with Drew Brees. I have said it time and time again that you look across the other historically great quarterbacks throughout NFL history, none have lost THAT much.

Payton had 6 losing seasons with Brees. Yes, the suspended season counts. There is something uncharacteristically different among the elite of the elite QBs…they win and win more.

As it stands now, Patrick Mahomes is going into his 4th AFC Title Game in 4 years with Andy Reid.

Tom Brady doesn’t have a single season with a losing record under 2 head coaches.

Peyton Manning had just 2 losing seasons with five head coaches.

Brett Favre had just 4 losing seasons with with 7 different head coaches.

Aaron Rodgers has 2 losing seasons with two head coaches.

Russell Wilson just had his first losing season in year 10 with one head coach.

Joe Montana had 2 losing seasons with 3 head coaches.

Steve Young had 2 losing seasons with 3 head coaches.

Dan Marino had 5 losing seasons under 2 head coaches.

John Elway had 3 losing seasons under 3 head coaches.

Among 10 other QBs, they combined to have 23 losing seasons. An average of 2.3. One of these things is not like the others.

Insert comment about defenses, which I could pick apart very easily. I already have in blogs of the past. To be honest, I don’t want to rehash it. Go dig for them. It doesn’t honestly matter. No matter how you slice it, Sean Payton was the head coach. His job is to WIN. His job is to put the team in the best position to WIN. That means even if you want to use the bad defense argument, that is still on him.

Wade Phillips doesn’t get talked about as a great head coach for being a great defensive coordinator. Josh McDaniels doesn’t get talked about as a great head coach for being a great offensive coordinator.

Let’s call it what it is. Sean Payton is a great coach. But, given the circumstances, he underachieved. Therefore, overrated.

It may seem pretty bad to be doing this the day after he retires and leaves behind the most fruitful era in franchise history. Maybe it is. But, when you’re arrogant, you don’t get a pass and it makes you an easy target to criticize.

  • Denying involvement in the bounty scandal making Gregg Williams the scapegoat of the entire operation.
  • The do your job mantra, except when it came to Payton.
  • The smug responses in losing seasons when reporters would in fact do their job by asking what needs to be fixed.
  • The constant berating of defensive coordinators even when the offense was sputtering and turning it over.
  • The petty play call to run up the score on Gregg Williams when he was with the Rams
  • Taunting such as the choke sign to Devonta Freeman only when the Saints were THAT good

That last one is the definition of arrogance. Don’t just be an asshole taunting and talking shit when things are going good. Do it when things aren’t going well.

No one was ready to give Rex Ryan a break for his arrogance. Payton doesn’t get one either.

Thanks for a Super Bowl and all, but the hero treatment isn’t happening here. He doesn’t deserve it.

Where do the Saints go from here?

Personally, I think the decision is fairly easy. Dennis Allen.

He has been in New Orleans long enough. The team is still in very good shape despite the cap situation which I am sure Dead Money Mickey can once again kick the can down the road on. Worry about it later.

The defense is still very much elite. In fact, they were ranked 1st in DVOA this season.

Despite the constant battle of injuries, the offensive line is still one of the best units in the NFL. When you can control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, you can win a lot of games with formidable QB play. The Titans are a glaring example of that.

Obviously the quarterback situation needs to be figured out. I feel like fans were robbed out of the Jameis Winston comeback story. I hope they run it back assuming Allen is the guy.

They can keep Pete Carmichael as OC and bring in a new DC or promote DB coach Kris Richard to DC since he is on many teams’ radars. That gives you leadership who knows the team and knows how to operate it. Plug and play without changing a whole lot.

No matter what, try to move Michael Thomas for picks and Andrus Peat if possible. Also dump Taysom Hill immediately. Start the process of rebuild / reloading.

What happens if the answer is not Dennis Allen?

They can bring back familiar faces like Dan Campbell or Aaron Glenn allowing them to take the same approach.

If they decide to go with someone completely on the outside, Brian Flores, Eric Bienemy, Kellen Moore or, the pipe dream for me, Jim Harbaugh. Those would be my favorite options.

If the Saints take an overhaul approach with a new coach and that coach wants to get out of cap hell fast, they need to dump as many players possible. It would need to be a firesale. Probably suck for the next 2-3 years and start building. It wouldn’t be a surprise considering Loomis and Payton kicked the salary cap can down the road for the last 5 or 6 years trying to win now.

Get with all the Saints stalwarts like Cam Jordan and Alvin Kamara to see where their heads are at. I genuinely believe those two guys just love NOLA in general as a place they want to be. I would love to see Cam specifically as a Saints lifer. Ultimately see if they want to stick around for a rebuild or go where they can win. If not, you can definitely get some cap relief and plenty of assets for those two.

If they went the firesale route, the others I would say need to be gone are the following…

Marshon Lattimore. His contract is too heavy for the production. He’s a good corner. But, we are talking about someone who gave up the 5th most yards in the league and tied for second most TDs. He only had 3 INTs to counter it. This isn’t a Trevon Diggs situation where the turnovers were coming. He has progressively regressed since his stellar rookie year. Not enough to say he isn’t worth having, but not for the price he is getting.

As I alluded to already, move Thomas. Give him the fresh start he wants and deserves. I think there was way more to that whole situation than we will ever know.

Of course attempt to move Hill and Peat.

I would protect Chauncey and Williams at all costs, especially if Jordan were to stick around.

While everyone wheeps and wallows over losing Payton, I am excited to see what potential direction the Saints go next. I am sure in a few weeks I will be laughing at myself for being dead wrong on that direction. I am here for the ride.


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