The spirit of New Orleans has not faded since the NFL brought down a hammer on the coaching staff and players of the Saints.
Bobby Hebert still introduces his WWL radio show as the home of the World Champion New Orleans Saints. It’s as if nothing even happened.
I’ll give them this. The Saints have a chip on their shoulder. They will be playing with an anger that no other team will have.
This team wants to hand it to Roger Goddell and his staff. Let’s be real here. The punishments Goddell put on the Saints went too far considering the crime.
The proof is in the backtracking. After he wronged the Saints to keep from getting his pants sued off by former players, he allegedly offered Jonathan Vilma a deal to reduce his suspension if he dropped his defamation lawsuit against the league. It seems like Goddell is hiding something he doesn’t want to show in court. And all the Saints see is blood in the water.
Reality is going to set in real soon for us Saints faithful. A team without a coach lacks the leadership it needs to make it to the next level. A team without a defensive presence will have trouble in the postseason. But a team that is out for blood has enormous potential. This brings us to the Best and Worst-Case Scenarios for the New Orleans Saints.
Best Case - NFC Championship Game Appearance
One of the most consistent teams in the NFC since Sean Payton’s arrival has been New Orleans. The Saints have been a constant threat to win the NFC ever since the Bears beat them in the conference final of 2006. The addition of Drew Brees has kept the Saints in the title hunt every year, despite the personnel changes around him.
Don’t worry about the defensive suspensions. The Saints have not been known for their defensive prowess. I don’t take the punishments against the players too seriously. With new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo running the defense (who was the defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in 2008), we might actually see an improvement.
The Saints last year were close to stepping to the NFC Championship podium again, but a comeback by the 49ers cut their run short. This was a good team last year. There should not be any concern about lack of talent.
Worst Case - Miss Playoffs with a 6-10 Record
Football is coach centered. Baseball and basketball are star centered. Hockey is driven by depth and role players. Soccer is....well, I don’t know what soccer is.
But if you are dissatisfied with the performance of your football team, the easiest way to improve it is to switch coaches. The Saints did it when they added Sean Payton. The system changed. The culture was different. There was a confidence and purpose the team never had before. Sean Payton forever changed the tradition of the New Orleans Saints.
Now you take him out of the equation. It’s impossible to tell what will happen in his absence, but I am positive it will keep the Saints out of the Super Bowl in their home arena. I hope I am wrong, but there is no telling what impact this will have on the Saints.
I understand Payton is not the key play-caller. I understand Drew Brees is the real leader of that team. But the Saints will not only be without their coach, they will have two different interims during the season. There is not room for much confidence when a Super Bowl is concerned.