Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Saints are more or less on schedule

This is different from saying that the Saints are doing well. It's even different from saying that the Saints' plan is going to work out for them eventually.  But I do think the idea this year was to play some rookies, experiment a little, and see if they can build a good enough team to compete with in 2016.

Based on that operational theory, the results this season are pretty much in accordance with expectations. It hasn't been perfectly so. There were real setbacks, most notably the failed Brandon Browner experiment as well as CJ Spiller's season on The Island Of Misfit Toys, each of which costs the Saints big cap hits. Still, they're more or less positioned right about where we thought they would be.  Which is why there's no reason to go flipping over the card table this offseason.

So I'm in concurrence with Bradley here but I think for slightly different reasons. For example, I don't interpret the 2014-15 offseason quite the desperate panic that he does, although it's a perfectly valid thought.  I think this was always a two year rebuilding scheme which, by definition almost, qualifies as more measured than "panic."  In any case, I agree with the prescription. 
That's not to say the Saints should sit tight and do nothing this offseason, but their moves should be careful and precise. They should only trade Sean Payton if Payton himself wants out. They should reserve huge changes for their defensive staff, and continue to lean on the draft to restock that side of the ball. They should accept the dead money penalty they'll absorb by cutting failures Browner and Spiller, and chalk up the million or so dollars in net cap space they'll save as a silver lining.

The Saints' panic response to 2014 established a new baseline for the franchise, and it's not good. But the only smart move now is to build from here.
In other words, this is not the time to dump Sean Payton or (worse, even) cut ties with Drew Brees. Quality quarterbacks are such rare commodities, it never makes sense to get rid of your Hall of Fame player as long as he can stand upright. (I realize this is in question at the moment, but let's assume he can.)  The long-term planning should only begin once Brees is gone.  Until then, whatever scheme you can come up with to patch things up, that's what you go with.

This means Brees and Payton should be back in 2016. Meanwhile, let's see if this crappy team can't maybe beat Atlanta one more time just for kicks.

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