A New Challenge in New Orleans…
By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)
Sean Payton has consistently shown that he is the best offensive mind in the NFL since taking over as the head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 2006. Now entering his 15th full season in this role, he will face a brand new challenge. For the first time since getting the job, he will not have the luxury of Drew Brees at the quarterback position. That is of course because Brees officially retired this offseason.
This new situation provides Payton with an excellent opportunity to remind everyone around the league just how much of an offensive genius he is. Brees is a lock to be a first-ballot hall of famer, but Payton is ready to show that he can still run a highly productive offensive scheme without him. This will certainly be a challenge, especially considering the options on the current roster at quarterback including the swiss army knife Taysom Hill, the big arm but turnover machine Jameis Winston, journeyman backup Trevor Siemian, and newly drafted rookie Ian Book.
If anyone is up for the task of losing a legend at quarterback but not missing a beat on offense, it’s Sean Payton. His track record speaks for itself and his offensive rankings are beyond impressive. Here is why he will prove it again this year.
The Saints have been an absolute offensive juggernaut since Payton took over as head coach. It may be easy to forget that Brees spent the first five years of his career with the Chargers, where he was a good quarterback but by no means the legendary one that he became with the Saints. The head coach and quarterback relationship is a very important one in the NFL, and few have been on the level of Payton and Brees. It was a match made in heaven, and their offensive rankings since becoming a tandem verify that.
In their 14 season run, the Saints offense ranked first in the NFL in total yards six times, was ten times in the top five, and only once finished outside of the top ten. Their scoring rankings are just as impressive, leading the NFL twice, including nine top fives and only twice finishing outside of the top ten. They were in the top five for passing yards in eleven straight seasons including being ranked first five times. Passing touchdown rankings are a similar story, leading the league twice and finishing in the top ten in all but two seasons. The list of offensive accomplishments goes on, but they have obviously been a powerhouse in the Payton era.
No Brees, No Problem?
That is the massive question that Payton will be looking to answer this season. He will be excited to embrace this new challenge and show off his brilliance. It’s an opportunity to quiet the doubters that may believe that the success of the Saints offensive has solely been due to the greatness of Drew Brees, rather than the collaborative efforts of the pair. Payton is an extremely creative schemer and play-caller, which he has demonstrated in the way he has utilized a unique player like Taysom Hill recently and Darren Sproles in the past, as well as unlocking the true weapon that Alvin Kamara has become and setting receiving records with Michael Thomas.
Do not sleep on the Saints offense no matter who is playing quarterback. They will certainly look different than they did with Brees, but different does not necessarily mean worse. This new set of circumstances will really get the creative juices flowing again for Payton, and it will be exciting to watch what he comes up with. If there were any doubt about the genius of Sean Payton before this upcoming season, it’s highly unlikely that there still will be when it’s over. Expect to see the new Saints offense towards the top of the league once again.