The offseason fervor surrounding the New Orleans Saints was shocking. Despite the fact, in a one-year span, the organization lost the best player in its history, Drew Brees, and its best coach, Sean Payton, many Black and Gold faithful — and some sportscasters nationally — spoke of a Saints Super Bowl, spoke of the Saints corralling the top seed in the NFC, and laughed at the Vegas’ over/under line of 8.5 regular-season wins.
The laughs have been replaced with groans and serious questions about the future of the Saints and how they escape their issues in the future. Sunday’s shutout loss (13-0) at San Francisco dropped New Orleans to 4-8. The Saints are last in the NFC South – so far, one of the worst divisions in NFL history.
Although New Orleans is miraculously just a game-and-a-half out of the NFC South lead, it’s time to look ahead. However, the future isn’t much prettier. The Saints are a mess.
This was supposed to be Jameis Winston’s team, but an early injury paved the way for Andy Dalton. By all accounts, Winston has been healthy enough to play for several weeks, but head coach Dennis Allen hasn’t allowed him to resume his position as QB1.
The Saints have even toyed, again, with Payton’s favorite toy, Taysom Hill, back at quarterback.
That hasn’t worked. Nothing has worked. Even the defense, touted as generationally good, has been an issue at times. At least there is reason to believe the defense will be OK.
Now what on offense? After a decade-and-a-half of security at the most important position on the field, the Saints are in deep trouble. They don’t have a quarterback and don’t have the capital to get one.
As bad as things stand, normally you could look ahead to April, when the Saints would have a prime draft choice due to the unsettling events of 2022. Only five teams currently have a worse record than New Orleans.
However, the Saints don’t have a first-round choice in 2023 and Allen now owns a 12-36 record in his career as a head coach.
New Orleans sent its 2023 pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in the trade that produced two first-round selections this year. Those picks turned into wide receiver Chris Olave and offensive tackle Trevor Penning.
Olave has lived up to his first-round billing, but he has no help. Michael Thomas played three games before he was scrapped for the season with a toe injury. Formerly one of the best wideouts in the game, Thomas has played 10 times in the past three seasons.
Perhaps Payton can pay off two years after his departure. New Orleans could get a draft pick or two should Payton come out of retirement to coach for another team in 2023, but even the ghost of Payton isn’t bailing this organization out.
Another reason 2023 already looks scary: Alvin Kamara.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to minimize potential punishment from the NFL regarding Kamara’s battery case. If possible, the Saints wish they could proactively punish their do-it-all weapon. There is certainly nothing left to lose this season.
Kamara was charged with battery following an alleged incident in Las Vegas during Pro Bowl week in February. Proceedings have been delayed several times. The latest push-back leaves a Jan. 23 date, with a trial set for March.
This is a worst-case scenario for the Saints. Fans were worried this situation would affect the 2022 squad; now the concern moves forward a season.
Is it 2024 yet?
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