It seemed that for quite a long stretch, this team owned the NFC South yet they seem to be stuck in neutral at this point. What is the general feeling on this team among Saints fans? Is there some worry that this team can’t get it turned around before Brees runs out of time?
The Saints fanbase, I’d say, is divided into two camps. Both sides are, naturally, frustrated with the team’s play in recent years. The core of the division is on the gravity of the team’s woes: is the team improving, or are they treading water?
I am of the camp that believes the team has improved over the last few years. The team is plagued by a number of bad personnel decisions made, generally, two or three years ago. Most infamous is the Junior Galette escapade, which tied up huge chunks of the cap space. And Jairus Byrd’s huge contract is no laughing matter among fans. These blunders have forced the team to develop youth and work the bargain bin in free agency to fill defensive holes. But after undergoing some internal evaluation, it seems Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have found a more appropriate approach to roster-building. This year, for the first time since maybe 2006, most of the Saints’ free agent pickups have played very well. And many of them were signed from the bargain bin.
Unfortunately, the improvement hasn’t shown up in the win column. The team is young, and I chalk much of that failure up to young inconsistency. But many fans think the problem is more widespread and concerning. Many writers at Who Dat Dish are of the belief that Sean Payton should be fired. He finished the last two seasons 7-9, and it’s looking like another losing season is at hand in 2016. Fans don’t generally question his offensive mind, but it’s astounding that he’s fielded abysmal defenses year after year after year. Despite the fact that he appears very much comfortable handing the defense over to his DC, it’s hard to look past the pattern.
Ultimately, it’s unclear how long Brees can sustain such a high level of play. But, encouragingly, he’s looked as dangerous as ever this year. In many ways, more so. Arm strength was never truly a strength of his. But he’s looked sharp, decisive, and accurate. I doubt the Saints can fully right the ship on defense next year, but it’s possible. And with the way this offense has played, the defense doesn’t need to excel for the team to have success.