Most of us were worried about the injuries in the defensive secondary and the overall questionable offensive line. As it turned out, neither of those things really doomed the team. The DBs were problematic but not disastrously so. The defense overall improved significantly. The offensive line was far better than anyone expected. We're still not sure how that was even accomplished. What actually killed the Saints' playoff chances this year were a handful of pivotal accidents that turned against them in one-score games. Most of these occurred on special teams which we all agree were atrocious. But that's football. Freaky close losses are still losses and Cliche Man is here to tell you that you are what your record says you are.
Having said that, this 7-9 team was far more entertaining to root for than the two that preceded it. The Saints showed the fans one of the NFL's best offenses featuring exciting young receivers who helped their Hall Of Fame quarterback pile up an unprecedented fifth 5,000 yard season. Michael Thomas set all of the rookie records. Mark Ingram ran for 1,000 yards. The Ws and Ls don't reflect this but the quality of play generally appeared to improve throughout the season. Certainly there was never a time where fans would have gotten the impression the team had checked out.
So, it's been fun... enough, right? Well, not everybody thinks so. Scroll through Twitter on any given Sunday and you'll find any number of irate pitchforks on the march after Loomis, Payton, or even Brees. That seems premature to me. At least by one season, anyway.
It's too early to say how the offseason is going to go. But we do know the Saints have more money to play with than they've had in a while. We also know that they know that 38 year old Drew Brees knows his contract is almost up. Yeah yeah Drew wants to play until he's 45 or something. But let's be reasonable. He showed this season that he can still play at a high level. It's likely that he can do it again next year too. After that, though, it might be ok for him to go ahead and do the Joe Montana in Kansas City thing if that's what he wants. There's nothing wrong with that. If the plan is to bring Drew back for one last run (and there's no reason that shouldn't be the plan) then it follows that you'd probably want to retain the coach he's had so much success with for that final run as well.
That is, if the coach wants to come back. Despite Payton's publicly expressed love for potholes and amoebas and stuff, the annual rumors about his departure are back. And this time there might be something to them. Payton says here, "it would be silly" to comment about the reports that he might be traded. He then goes on to comment about the reports.
Hours later, sources told Larry Holder of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune about an hour-long meeting between Payton and Loomis following the game in which they discussed Payton's future.So that's weird. But it's been a weird year. I happened to think it was more good weird than bad weird. Certainly enough to merit one more try with this head coach and QB if they both want to come back. If it doesn't work out then, sure, we can talk about burning it all down next year. There's always time for that, though.
"I've read Larry's report, for instance, about Mickey and I meeting, which was completely false," Payton said. "Mickey and I for the last 11 years after every game share the same locker room. We come in; we have a Gatorade. The first thing I ask Mickey every game is (about important officiating calls). We go through every penalty. Then, we go through and we eat a cheeseburger, and then we get on the plane.
"But if I'm going to answer questions to a report like that that's inaccurate, then we only just feed or turn the rumor mill, and I won't. And that's just the way it is, and you know what? That's tough."